4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Pegah’s Kitchen: a blast from the past in Escondido

“People have shown us what they want, and they’re the ones who count.”

Owner Fred Soleimani’s son Nima brings fruit for Mag.
Owner Fred Soleimani’s son Nima brings fruit for Mag.

“Okay, I give up,” Mag says. “Why is this place called Pegah’s Kitchen?”

“Because it’s a breakfast place and ‘Pegah’ means ‘Dawn’ in Persian. Breakfast time!”

Place

Pegah’s Kitchen Escondido

912 South Redwood Street, Escondido

I’m guessing about that last part, because this is a breakfast place. But I’ve been told it’s also a girl’s name. The owner’s daughter.

This lil’ exchange is taking place on Redwood Street, in Escondido, on a blistering-hot Sunday. I’m up visiting Mag. I haven’t even had a cawfee, let alone food, since last night. So we hurry in. First good thing: it’s cool inside. Some folks are chomping away on the patio, but most have opted for the cool, teal-blue-colored booths under fans inside. Place looks straight out of the ‘50s, but fresh, like it opened yesterday. Maybe it’s gotten a post-covid paint job. A wall clock made of knives and forks ticks away.

Secret to vibrating the pepper out - grind pot’s base against salt cellar base.

“Who’s that?” asks Mag. She’s looking at a photo on the wall. A man and his son sit cross-legged together on a pier.

“That’s my father and me,” says Nima Soleimani, the guy in the “Pegah’s Kitchen” hat who’s doing the day’s receipts. (It’s around one. They’ve been open since six.) He says his dad, Fred, who is from Iran, started washing dishes while he was studying for a degree in engineering at Arkansas State University. He ended up running a string of his own restaurants in Kansas City, then left for San Diego when Nima and his brothers went off to school in California. And what a dad! Within a few years, Fred had opened three new eateries right here in northern San Diego County.

Nima hands us menus. “We’re a family business here,” he says. “I’ve been working since I was 14.”

The menu’s big, and filled with every dish you can imagine. Standard diner brekky and lunch dishes, that is. “Pegah’s Classics” are variations on diner dishes, things like the A.M. Starter ($10 for two eggs, bacon, sausage patties, sausage links, or ham steak. A half order goes for $8). Or corned beef hash and eggs ($11), kielbasa and eggs ($11), or breakfast skillets. The Spicy California Skillet, Country Skillet and Mexican Skillet are $11 each. Waffles are about $8, burgers run $11, sandwiches, including the French dip, are also $11, though the grilled cheese sandwich is only $8.

Secret weapon - grilled pineapple gives shot of sweetness to steak.

So yes, we’re talking reasonably priced diner fare, with recipes that I’ll bet haven’t changed in 100 years. I’ve suddenly got the hots for one of the featured items: Country Fried Steak and Eggs. But wait! I’m perusing through sandwiches, and here’s Pegah’s Chicken Bacon Melt ($11) with a “juicy grilled pineapple ring.” Hmm! Blast from the past! What if I decide to go for the country fried steak, with its sausage gravy and two eggs, and then see if I can add the pineapple ring? Don’t mind paying a couple of bucks more. It would add such a sweet kick. Maybe I’ve picked up on the Filipinos’ taste for mixing sweet with savory.

Maggie knows what she wants, kinda. “Benedict. Got to have that hollandaise sauce.”

Nima with his dad, Fred, many restaurants ago.

Except here you have choice. Classic, Country, or California. The differences? Classic’s on an English muffin, with the poached eggs, ham, and hollandaise sauce; Country’s got two sausage patties “on our famous biscuit” with country gravy and cheese. The California has bacon, avocado and hollandaise. Each costs $12.

She goes for the California Benedict. And what a sight. Two rosettes of poached eggs with the hollandaise form golden valleys floating on avocado, bacon, tomato, toasted muffin.

I almost regret not getting that.

Almost.

Then my country fried steak arrives, with sausage gravy and the two sunny-side-up eggs looking like the twin suns in 2010 (the movie), beside this creamy lake of sausage gravy. One or two golden crags of steak stick up through the ooze. Crunchy! Breadcrumbs, batter, whatever. I ask for a little hot sauce, and it zips the flavor up nicely. “But is it health food?” asks Mag. “Only if health comes from happiness,” I reply.

“We don’t change our menu a lot,” says Nima. “My dad is very traditional with his menus. He has so many regular customers who know exactly what they want. They don’t change. Like, I tried to push the idea of avocado toast. Dad said don’t even bother. ‘People have shown us what they want, and they’re the ones who count.’”

Their three restaurants here in San Diego are all named Pegah’s Kitchen.. “My dad runs our San Marcos place. Mom runs the Vista restaurant. And I run this one here in Escondido. All in the family!”

One thing for sure: The pineapple ring has turned my country fried steak and eggs into this multi-taste symphony of meat, gravy, eggs, bacon, and the sweet, tart, tropical tease of the pineapple. (And, turns out, at least the pineapple is really good for you. Like limes and oranges, it can save you from scurvy. Also, by the way: there’s nothing Hawaiian about pineapple. Christopher Columbus took it back from Brazil to Europe in 1493. It got to Hawaii way later.)

Of course, this has been cholesterol city. Beautiful, but gotta be atoned for. Next time, Mag and I agree: salad. Mag says she’s gonna choose the taco salad in a crispy flour shell with grilled chicken ($12). Me, I’ll try the Cobb salad (also $12) so I can get my teeth into all the blue cheese, hopefully anchovies, and ham, bacon, turkey. And hey, even the occasional chomp of lettuce.

Okay, maybe we’ll share a pie a la mode ($6). Just to finish off.

  • The Place: Pegah’s Kitchen, 912 S. Redwood Street, Escondido, 760-739-9265 (also at 576 E. Mission Road, San Marcos, 760-744-3710; and 945 S. Santa Fe Avenue, Vista, 760-414-9803)
  • Hours: 6am-2:30pm, daily
  • Prices: A.M. Starter breakfast (two eggs, bacon, sausage patties, sausage links, or ham steak), $10; half order, $8; corned beef hash and eggs $11; kielbasa sausage and eggs, $11; Spicy California Breakfast Skillet, $11; country fried steak and eggs, $13; pork chops and eggs, $14; corned beef hash and eggs, $13; Mexican skillet, home fries, $11; BOA Omelet (Bacon, Ortega chillies, Avocado), $11; Pegah’s Chicken Bacon Melt with a “juicy grilled pineapple ring,” $11
  • Buses: 350 and all Escondido Transit Center buses
  • Nearest Bus Stops: Escondido Blvd at 9th Ave (for 350); Escondido Transit Center for all others, at 700 W. Valley Parkway (.7 of a mile)
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Judd Apatow and Steven Brill pursue the prison camp formula

These kids do as good a job of hiding food as Otto Frank did his family
Next Article

Siam Imperial Thai Kitchen's Tom Yum Kung: hot hot hot!

We’re beyond “like.” We’re into addiction here.
Owner Fred Soleimani’s son Nima brings fruit for Mag.
Owner Fred Soleimani’s son Nima brings fruit for Mag.

“Okay, I give up,” Mag says. “Why is this place called Pegah’s Kitchen?”

“Because it’s a breakfast place and ‘Pegah’ means ‘Dawn’ in Persian. Breakfast time!”

Place

Pegah’s Kitchen Escondido

912 South Redwood Street, Escondido

I’m guessing about that last part, because this is a breakfast place. But I’ve been told it’s also a girl’s name. The owner’s daughter.

This lil’ exchange is taking place on Redwood Street, in Escondido, on a blistering-hot Sunday. I’m up visiting Mag. I haven’t even had a cawfee, let alone food, since last night. So we hurry in. First good thing: it’s cool inside. Some folks are chomping away on the patio, but most have opted for the cool, teal-blue-colored booths under fans inside. Place looks straight out of the ‘50s, but fresh, like it opened yesterday. Maybe it’s gotten a post-covid paint job. A wall clock made of knives and forks ticks away.

Secret to vibrating the pepper out - grind pot’s base against salt cellar base.

“Who’s that?” asks Mag. She’s looking at a photo on the wall. A man and his son sit cross-legged together on a pier.

“That’s my father and me,” says Nima Soleimani, the guy in the “Pegah’s Kitchen” hat who’s doing the day’s receipts. (It’s around one. They’ve been open since six.) He says his dad, Fred, who is from Iran, started washing dishes while he was studying for a degree in engineering at Arkansas State University. He ended up running a string of his own restaurants in Kansas City, then left for San Diego when Nima and his brothers went off to school in California. And what a dad! Within a few years, Fred had opened three new eateries right here in northern San Diego County.

Nima hands us menus. “We’re a family business here,” he says. “I’ve been working since I was 14.”

The menu’s big, and filled with every dish you can imagine. Standard diner brekky and lunch dishes, that is. “Pegah’s Classics” are variations on diner dishes, things like the A.M. Starter ($10 for two eggs, bacon, sausage patties, sausage links, or ham steak. A half order goes for $8). Or corned beef hash and eggs ($11), kielbasa and eggs ($11), or breakfast skillets. The Spicy California Skillet, Country Skillet and Mexican Skillet are $11 each. Waffles are about $8, burgers run $11, sandwiches, including the French dip, are also $11, though the grilled cheese sandwich is only $8.

Secret weapon - grilled pineapple gives shot of sweetness to steak.

So yes, we’re talking reasonably priced diner fare, with recipes that I’ll bet haven’t changed in 100 years. I’ve suddenly got the hots for one of the featured items: Country Fried Steak and Eggs. But wait! I’m perusing through sandwiches, and here’s Pegah’s Chicken Bacon Melt ($11) with a “juicy grilled pineapple ring.” Hmm! Blast from the past! What if I decide to go for the country fried steak, with its sausage gravy and two eggs, and then see if I can add the pineapple ring? Don’t mind paying a couple of bucks more. It would add such a sweet kick. Maybe I’ve picked up on the Filipinos’ taste for mixing sweet with savory.

Maggie knows what she wants, kinda. “Benedict. Got to have that hollandaise sauce.”

Nima with his dad, Fred, many restaurants ago.

Except here you have choice. Classic, Country, or California. The differences? Classic’s on an English muffin, with the poached eggs, ham, and hollandaise sauce; Country’s got two sausage patties “on our famous biscuit” with country gravy and cheese. The California has bacon, avocado and hollandaise. Each costs $12.

She goes for the California Benedict. And what a sight. Two rosettes of poached eggs with the hollandaise form golden valleys floating on avocado, bacon, tomato, toasted muffin.

I almost regret not getting that.

Almost.

Then my country fried steak arrives, with sausage gravy and the two sunny-side-up eggs looking like the twin suns in 2010 (the movie), beside this creamy lake of sausage gravy. One or two golden crags of steak stick up through the ooze. Crunchy! Breadcrumbs, batter, whatever. I ask for a little hot sauce, and it zips the flavor up nicely. “But is it health food?” asks Mag. “Only if health comes from happiness,” I reply.

“We don’t change our menu a lot,” says Nima. “My dad is very traditional with his menus. He has so many regular customers who know exactly what they want. They don’t change. Like, I tried to push the idea of avocado toast. Dad said don’t even bother. ‘People have shown us what they want, and they’re the ones who count.’”

Their three restaurants here in San Diego are all named Pegah’s Kitchen.. “My dad runs our San Marcos place. Mom runs the Vista restaurant. And I run this one here in Escondido. All in the family!”

One thing for sure: The pineapple ring has turned my country fried steak and eggs into this multi-taste symphony of meat, gravy, eggs, bacon, and the sweet, tart, tropical tease of the pineapple. (And, turns out, at least the pineapple is really good for you. Like limes and oranges, it can save you from scurvy. Also, by the way: there’s nothing Hawaiian about pineapple. Christopher Columbus took it back from Brazil to Europe in 1493. It got to Hawaii way later.)

Of course, this has been cholesterol city. Beautiful, but gotta be atoned for. Next time, Mag and I agree: salad. Mag says she’s gonna choose the taco salad in a crispy flour shell with grilled chicken ($12). Me, I’ll try the Cobb salad (also $12) so I can get my teeth into all the blue cheese, hopefully anchovies, and ham, bacon, turkey. And hey, even the occasional chomp of lettuce.

Okay, maybe we’ll share a pie a la mode ($6). Just to finish off.

  • The Place: Pegah’s Kitchen, 912 S. Redwood Street, Escondido, 760-739-9265 (also at 576 E. Mission Road, San Marcos, 760-744-3710; and 945 S. Santa Fe Avenue, Vista, 760-414-9803)
  • Hours: 6am-2:30pm, daily
  • Prices: A.M. Starter breakfast (two eggs, bacon, sausage patties, sausage links, or ham steak), $10; half order, $8; corned beef hash and eggs $11; kielbasa sausage and eggs, $11; Spicy California Breakfast Skillet, $11; country fried steak and eggs, $13; pork chops and eggs, $14; corned beef hash and eggs, $13; Mexican skillet, home fries, $11; BOA Omelet (Bacon, Ortega chillies, Avocado), $11; Pegah’s Chicken Bacon Melt with a “juicy grilled pineapple ring,” $11
  • Buses: 350 and all Escondido Transit Center buses
  • Nearest Bus Stops: Escondido Blvd at 9th Ave (for 350); Escondido Transit Center for all others, at 700 W. Valley Parkway (.7 of a mile)
Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Mom carried him into Escondido's Learning Jungle

Bruises in non-bony areas were the tip-off
Next Article

Bub’s Berry Smash: mulling over the mule

A really refreshing cocktail for summertime.
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close