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I knew the Perry's Cafe had been around forever (25 years), and I'd heard about the fire, accidentally ignited by grease towels in the kitchen in December, 2009. I'd heard it had reopened in April 2010 and that it was famed for some seriously good breakfast food.

But despite my awareness of Perry's Cafe, from knowing it's a CHP haunt (their offices are just up the street) to seeing it as I pass by on Pacific Highway or Interstate 5 it had somehow been relegated to that place you know about but never get around to checking out. Well, last week, I finally did.

I expected it to be a typical diner, simple food served by smiling people. The line was out the door, but seating is vast, so we only had to wait around ten minutes. Once seated, a glance in the kitchen revealed the professional choreography of the cooks. I watched as two older guys seamlessly reached for plates with one hand while casually flipping frittatas in an iron pan with the other.

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I ordered a zucchini frittata. I scraped off the cheese, which seemed superfluous, and took a bite. The vegetables -- zucchini, mushroom, tomato -- were fresh and juicy, not overcooked, not undercooked. "This is some serious food," I said to David. He'd gotten the Mexican Frittata, the bottom layer of which was lean braised beef, machaca style. It was tender, juicy, and incredibly flavorful.

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But let's talk about the hash browns. This dish was like the culinary thesis of proper execution. Crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, not a hint of grease. The only drawback was the supersized portions -- I felt terrible I couldn't finish it all, and perfect hash browns like that just aren't the same when reheated.

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Even the coffee was good.

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Overall, the service was professional, friendly, welcoming, absolutely no pretense, and the bill barely dented my wallet. For serious breakfast (minus the mimosas), this will be my new go-to.

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