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F-HOP, not IHOP

“These people here have given us something to look forward to.”

You gotta feel sorry for the plate: My California omelet.
You gotta feel sorry for the plate: My California omelet.

I am sitting, staring like a stunned ox.

“I told you it was real,” says Sully.

Place

Family House of Pancakes

1900 East Plaza Boulevard, San Diego

My buddy and I are sitting here, under tents, a stone’s throw from the 805, on Plaza Boulevard in National City. It’s nine in the morning. I got up at six. Unheard of in this bad boy’s routine. Nothing but a mega-omelet could have dragged me out.

“This baby has eight eggs. Eight!” says Sully. Actually, he’s shouting it, because right at the tent’s edge, a guy with a jackhammer has decided to start up. It’s gonna be a noisy breakfast.

Customers show their appreciation for the jackhammer guy.

On the other hand, I am sitting looking at the hugest omelet I have ever seen. Honest. It takes up two thirds of the plate.

“They haven’t changed it since 1964,” says Marilyn the waitress.

“We should go inside,” said Sully, back when the jackhammering started.

“Sorry, inside is full,” said the busser, Patricia

“It is, every day I come,” sighed Sully. “This is a popular place.”

So we sat down outside, on a chilly May Gray day.

But no matter. Marilyn brought two magnificent bound menus. Menu’s stacked with all the trad breakfast items that are anything but nuts and twigs. You make yourself swear you’re gonna start losing weight, right after this.

Good luck, team. The line-up starts with two eggs any style for $10.15. That includes two sides such as home style potatoes, cheese, beans, fruit, cottage cheese, grits, coupled with a choice of pancakes, toast, tortillas, English muffin, or biscuits. A 1/3rd pound patty and eggs costs $11.15, and breaded pork chop and eggs runs $15. Roast beef hash and eggs is $12.50. And maybe the best deal: their “mini breakfast” includes two pieces of bacon or two sausage links, one egg any style, and pancakes or toast. It sells for $9.25.

Marilyn brings my breakfast out. Fruit’s part of the deal.

You turn the heavy pages like a kid’s picture book. You travel through scrambles (starting at $11.75), a whole page of Eggs Benedict ($12.95 and up), plus breakfast sandwiches (from $9.95 for the two-egg sandwich), a Mexican breakfast page ($11.50 buys 2 eggs, beans, tortillas, Spanish sauce. Tops is $18.95 for carne asada chilaquiles which does sound delicious with two eggs any style, frijoles, feta cheese, and sour cream.) On into club sandwichland (average with sides such fries, around $14. The triple-decker chicken club goes for $14.25. Cajun sausage is $13.25).

We could go on, through wraps, deli sandwiches, salads (average $14), burgers (think $12), hot dogs ($11), patty melt (1/3lb, $12.25), full-blown dinners ($15-23), fish, around $20, and Mexican and Italian sections. Plus a breakfast and lunch section for seniors. Think $10 and under.

Not IHOP, but FHOP.

But come on! Who’s fooling who? We all know this brekky’s gonna be an omelet of some kind. The way Sully’s eyes grow large when he says the “O” word, there’s something going on here.

Hard to concentrate with the chugga-chugga-shuck! of the jackhammer, but I’m suddenly under pressure, because Marilyn is back for the third time, and now even the outside is filling up. And Sully already knows what he wants.

He lifts his head from the “World Famous Omelettes” page. “I’ll have the usual,” he says. “The Californian. Can’t beat it.”

I do a quick check of the competition. Italian, Spanish, veggie, each $14, like The Californian. Rush of temptation when I spot the seafood omelet stuffed with real crab and shrimp, except it costs $19.25. D’aagh.”

“I’ll have what he’s having,” I finally say. And boy, no regrets. This mountain, when it arrives, is made up of four things only: bacon, tomato, avocado, cheese, and yes, eight eggs. Homestyle potatoes fill up the entire rest of the plate. Okay, the spuds seem to be hanging on to the plate edges like it’s a life raft, but there’s still plenty, and they’re partly cooked crisp, partly soft.

Our musician for the morning.

Have to say it’s such a pleasure being able to chomp right in, without ever worrying about running out. There’s a ton of avo chunks in there, plenty of bacon and melted cheese, and a big bowl of salsa, which heats it nicely. Man! I do notice a lot of overweight people around, but right now, who cares?

Part of why they’re loyal to this place may be in the menu’s intro page: “Jim and Madeline Spezzano were simple people from humble Italian ancestry,” their children write here. They tell the classic tale. Jim came back from WW2, had a dream of starting a restaurant, and finally did, in 1964, even though they had no experience in cooking or business. “Dad never saw the business really do well. He died of a massive heart attack in 1967.”

High school sweethearts: Founders Jim and Madeline Spezzano. He was fresh back from the war.

Madeline carried on for 30 years. “Mom died in 2003, but her and our father’s legacy and belief that CONSISTENCY and a GOOD PRODUCT, GENEROUSLY GIVEN, live on today.”

I don’t know why I find the caps so moving. But this massive omelet says it all. It’s food “generously given.”

Just when I’m feeling all this, the jackhammer stops and the sun comes out.

Of course I’m taking more than half my omelet home. “We know who we are,” says Sully, looking around. “We’re not rich, but these people here have given us something to look forward to.”

Thing I’m now looking forward to is tomorrow’s reheat mashup.

  • The Place: Family House of Pancakes, 1900 E. Plaza Boulevard, National City, 619-477-3197 (also at 562 Broadway, Chula Vista, 619-425-5133)
  • Hours: 7am-2pm, daily
  • Prices: Breakfast, two eggs any style, including eg home style potatoes, fruit, grits, $10.15; “mini breakfast” (two pieces of bacon or two sausage links, one egg any style, and pancakes or toast), $9.25; chopped sausage and eggs scramble, $11.75; Eggs Benedict, $12.95; crab cake Benedict, $17.20; two-egg breakfast sandwich, $9.95; Mexican breakfast (2 eggs, beans, tortillas, Spanish sauce), $11.50; carne asada chilaquiles (verde, pork), with two eggs, frijoles, feta cheese, sour cream, $18.95; peanut butter burger with bacon, $12.50; breaded pork chop and eggs, $15; roast beef hash and eggs, $12.50
  • Bus: 962, 963
  • Nearest Bus Stop: 1900 Plaza Boulevard
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It’s Time to Get Buggy

Lobster Season Opener Saturday
You gotta feel sorry for the plate: My California omelet.
You gotta feel sorry for the plate: My California omelet.

I am sitting, staring like a stunned ox.

“I told you it was real,” says Sully.

Place

Family House of Pancakes

1900 East Plaza Boulevard, San Diego

My buddy and I are sitting here, under tents, a stone’s throw from the 805, on Plaza Boulevard in National City. It’s nine in the morning. I got up at six. Unheard of in this bad boy’s routine. Nothing but a mega-omelet could have dragged me out.

“This baby has eight eggs. Eight!” says Sully. Actually, he’s shouting it, because right at the tent’s edge, a guy with a jackhammer has decided to start up. It’s gonna be a noisy breakfast.

Customers show their appreciation for the jackhammer guy.

On the other hand, I am sitting looking at the hugest omelet I have ever seen. Honest. It takes up two thirds of the plate.

“They haven’t changed it since 1964,” says Marilyn the waitress.

“We should go inside,” said Sully, back when the jackhammering started.

“Sorry, inside is full,” said the busser, Patricia

“It is, every day I come,” sighed Sully. “This is a popular place.”

So we sat down outside, on a chilly May Gray day.

But no matter. Marilyn brought two magnificent bound menus. Menu’s stacked with all the trad breakfast items that are anything but nuts and twigs. You make yourself swear you’re gonna start losing weight, right after this.

Good luck, team. The line-up starts with two eggs any style for $10.15. That includes two sides such as home style potatoes, cheese, beans, fruit, cottage cheese, grits, coupled with a choice of pancakes, toast, tortillas, English muffin, or biscuits. A 1/3rd pound patty and eggs costs $11.15, and breaded pork chop and eggs runs $15. Roast beef hash and eggs is $12.50. And maybe the best deal: their “mini breakfast” includes two pieces of bacon or two sausage links, one egg any style, and pancakes or toast. It sells for $9.25.

Marilyn brings my breakfast out. Fruit’s part of the deal.

You turn the heavy pages like a kid’s picture book. You travel through scrambles (starting at $11.75), a whole page of Eggs Benedict ($12.95 and up), plus breakfast sandwiches (from $9.95 for the two-egg sandwich), a Mexican breakfast page ($11.50 buys 2 eggs, beans, tortillas, Spanish sauce. Tops is $18.95 for carne asada chilaquiles which does sound delicious with two eggs any style, frijoles, feta cheese, and sour cream.) On into club sandwichland (average with sides such fries, around $14. The triple-decker chicken club goes for $14.25. Cajun sausage is $13.25).

We could go on, through wraps, deli sandwiches, salads (average $14), burgers (think $12), hot dogs ($11), patty melt (1/3lb, $12.25), full-blown dinners ($15-23), fish, around $20, and Mexican and Italian sections. Plus a breakfast and lunch section for seniors. Think $10 and under.

Not IHOP, but FHOP.

But come on! Who’s fooling who? We all know this brekky’s gonna be an omelet of some kind. The way Sully’s eyes grow large when he says the “O” word, there’s something going on here.

Hard to concentrate with the chugga-chugga-shuck! of the jackhammer, but I’m suddenly under pressure, because Marilyn is back for the third time, and now even the outside is filling up. And Sully already knows what he wants.

He lifts his head from the “World Famous Omelettes” page. “I’ll have the usual,” he says. “The Californian. Can’t beat it.”

I do a quick check of the competition. Italian, Spanish, veggie, each $14, like The Californian. Rush of temptation when I spot the seafood omelet stuffed with real crab and shrimp, except it costs $19.25. D’aagh.”

“I’ll have what he’s having,” I finally say. And boy, no regrets. This mountain, when it arrives, is made up of four things only: bacon, tomato, avocado, cheese, and yes, eight eggs. Homestyle potatoes fill up the entire rest of the plate. Okay, the spuds seem to be hanging on to the plate edges like it’s a life raft, but there’s still plenty, and they’re partly cooked crisp, partly soft.

Our musician for the morning.

Have to say it’s such a pleasure being able to chomp right in, without ever worrying about running out. There’s a ton of avo chunks in there, plenty of bacon and melted cheese, and a big bowl of salsa, which heats it nicely. Man! I do notice a lot of overweight people around, but right now, who cares?

Part of why they’re loyal to this place may be in the menu’s intro page: “Jim and Madeline Spezzano were simple people from humble Italian ancestry,” their children write here. They tell the classic tale. Jim came back from WW2, had a dream of starting a restaurant, and finally did, in 1964, even though they had no experience in cooking or business. “Dad never saw the business really do well. He died of a massive heart attack in 1967.”

High school sweethearts: Founders Jim and Madeline Spezzano. He was fresh back from the war.

Madeline carried on for 30 years. “Mom died in 2003, but her and our father’s legacy and belief that CONSISTENCY and a GOOD PRODUCT, GENEROUSLY GIVEN, live on today.”

I don’t know why I find the caps so moving. But this massive omelet says it all. It’s food “generously given.”

Just when I’m feeling all this, the jackhammer stops and the sun comes out.

Of course I’m taking more than half my omelet home. “We know who we are,” says Sully, looking around. “We’re not rich, but these people here have given us something to look forward to.”

Thing I’m now looking forward to is tomorrow’s reheat mashup.

  • The Place: Family House of Pancakes, 1900 E. Plaza Boulevard, National City, 619-477-3197 (also at 562 Broadway, Chula Vista, 619-425-5133)
  • Hours: 7am-2pm, daily
  • Prices: Breakfast, two eggs any style, including eg home style potatoes, fruit, grits, $10.15; “mini breakfast” (two pieces of bacon or two sausage links, one egg any style, and pancakes or toast), $9.25; chopped sausage and eggs scramble, $11.75; Eggs Benedict, $12.95; crab cake Benedict, $17.20; two-egg breakfast sandwich, $9.95; Mexican breakfast (2 eggs, beans, tortillas, Spanish sauce), $11.50; carne asada chilaquiles (verde, pork), with two eggs, frijoles, feta cheese, sour cream, $18.95; peanut butter burger with bacon, $12.50; breaded pork chop and eggs, $15; roast beef hash and eggs, $12.50
  • Bus: 962, 963
  • Nearest Bus Stop: 1900 Plaza Boulevard
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