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Another generation discovers Perry’s Cafe

Large portions of breakfast staples stand out beneath the freeway

A classic breakfast diner order: corned beef hash with hash browns and eggs over easy
A classic breakfast diner order: corned beef hash with hash browns and eggs over easy

If seems as though Perry’s Café has always been there, always easy to spot from the 5-North to 8-East freeway interchange. They say the family-owned breakfast diner has been in business over 35 years, and the look of it certainly feels out of another time – an accordioned rooftop and fieldstone accents. But the true reason it stands out so easily may be the huge, wraparound parking lot. Despite being so close to the city center, there’s not another building within 150 feet, so the restaurant stands alone, presented like a showpiece.

Place

Perry's Cafe

4620 Pacific Hwy., San Diego

And, if you believe the banner strung over the entrance, Perry’s serves the “best breakfast in town.”

Driving past up on the freeway, I was never a hundred percent sure how to drop down to reach the place, which sits on Pacific Highway at the nexus of the two freeways and the Old Town trolley stop. But traveling between Old Town and Point Loma last week with kids in tow, there it appeared, all that parking lot looking more inviting than ever. The children were out of school for the Thanksgiving holiday, and getting hangry in the backseat. The errands I needed to run would become a whole lot easier if I filled them up with waffles and pancakes first.

Perry's Cafe remains easy to spot from the freeway after more than 35 years.

What amazed me most wasn’t the two spacious dining rooms, or the healthy mid-week crowd all but filling them. It was how quickly the food came out. We ordered right away, and within five minutes of being seated, strawberry-and-whipped-cream-covered waffles and pancakes appeared. (Waffles at $12.95 in a combo with eggs and bacon; pancakes closer to $8 thanks to kids menu pricing).

Not a bad crowd for late morning, mid-week

It happened so fast, the kids didn’t have time to complain how bored they were, though I don’t think they’ve eaten preserved strawberries before. Perhaps it’s a sign of the changing times, but I don’t think they’ve spent much time in breakfast diners. I, on the other hand, have visited more than enough to rut myself into a usual order. My first instinct is always to try the corned beef hash ($12.99), though I can sometimes be talked into adding biscuits and gravy ($5.99).

Preserved strawberries and whipped cream top a large waffle, with a side of eggs and bacon

According to its website, one of several points of pride at Perry’s is that many among their staff have been with the restaurant for over a decade, if not two. Our intuitive waitress has clearly seen countless breakfast feasters walk through those doors, because she had me all kinds of figured out. When I asked what kind of toast comes with the hash, she quickly pointed out I could make it biscuits and gravy for an easy couple bucks.

House-baked biscuits under a thick coat of sausage gravy

And so it happened that, after nearly 20 years of wondering whether Perry’s Café was worth checking out, I had my answer within ten minutes of deciding to eat there. Nothing particularly stood out about any of the food, with the possible exception of the terrific house-baked biscuits. But everything was pretty good, and there were large portions of it to enjoy, especially considering the anachronistic prices.

We should all probably bring the kids to places like this more often, so the next generation may continue to wax nostalgic about American breakfast diners.

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A classic breakfast diner order: corned beef hash with hash browns and eggs over easy
A classic breakfast diner order: corned beef hash with hash browns and eggs over easy

If seems as though Perry’s Café has always been there, always easy to spot from the 5-North to 8-East freeway interchange. They say the family-owned breakfast diner has been in business over 35 years, and the look of it certainly feels out of another time – an accordioned rooftop and fieldstone accents. But the true reason it stands out so easily may be the huge, wraparound parking lot. Despite being so close to the city center, there’s not another building within 150 feet, so the restaurant stands alone, presented like a showpiece.

Place

Perry's Cafe

4620 Pacific Hwy., San Diego

And, if you believe the banner strung over the entrance, Perry’s serves the “best breakfast in town.”

Driving past up on the freeway, I was never a hundred percent sure how to drop down to reach the place, which sits on Pacific Highway at the nexus of the two freeways and the Old Town trolley stop. But traveling between Old Town and Point Loma last week with kids in tow, there it appeared, all that parking lot looking more inviting than ever. The children were out of school for the Thanksgiving holiday, and getting hangry in the backseat. The errands I needed to run would become a whole lot easier if I filled them up with waffles and pancakes first.

Perry's Cafe remains easy to spot from the freeway after more than 35 years.

What amazed me most wasn’t the two spacious dining rooms, or the healthy mid-week crowd all but filling them. It was how quickly the food came out. We ordered right away, and within five minutes of being seated, strawberry-and-whipped-cream-covered waffles and pancakes appeared. (Waffles at $12.95 in a combo with eggs and bacon; pancakes closer to $8 thanks to kids menu pricing).

Not a bad crowd for late morning, mid-week

It happened so fast, the kids didn’t have time to complain how bored they were, though I don’t think they’ve eaten preserved strawberries before. Perhaps it’s a sign of the changing times, but I don’t think they’ve spent much time in breakfast diners. I, on the other hand, have visited more than enough to rut myself into a usual order. My first instinct is always to try the corned beef hash ($12.99), though I can sometimes be talked into adding biscuits and gravy ($5.99).

Preserved strawberries and whipped cream top a large waffle, with a side of eggs and bacon

According to its website, one of several points of pride at Perry’s is that many among their staff have been with the restaurant for over a decade, if not two. Our intuitive waitress has clearly seen countless breakfast feasters walk through those doors, because she had me all kinds of figured out. When I asked what kind of toast comes with the hash, she quickly pointed out I could make it biscuits and gravy for an easy couple bucks.

House-baked biscuits under a thick coat of sausage gravy

And so it happened that, after nearly 20 years of wondering whether Perry’s Café was worth checking out, I had my answer within ten minutes of deciding to eat there. Nothing particularly stood out about any of the food, with the possible exception of the terrific house-baked biscuits. But everything was pretty good, and there were large portions of it to enjoy, especially considering the anachronistic prices.

We should all probably bring the kids to places like this more often, so the next generation may continue to wax nostalgic about American breakfast diners.

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