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Sep 23, 2006 07:24 PM

Waffles ( SD)

I like waffles, but my wife, who makes great ones, usually doesn’t like to cook them when I want to eat them. Does anyone know of a really good place for waffles in SD? The only really good place I know of is the Pancake House in El Cajon (kinda inconvenient to LJ, where john’s waffle house closed years ago), which has much better pancakes (duh!) and scrambles than waffles.

I admit that I am a sucker for the proverbial “hole-in-the-wall” Mom & Pop eatery. I will search, like the conquistador Coronado, throughout the area for the elusive pot-of-gold place, especially for breakfast (Jewish deli & Mexican, too.) Believe me, I have been to every neighborhood in this town looking for “The Lost City of Chow.”

Saturday morning my wife said, “Let’s try the Country Waffle House in Claremont.” I should have asked more questions, but after almost 30 years of we went.

We found the place on the bottom back of an office building by the Rite-Aid at the corner of Genesee and Balboa. The parking lot was packed and there was a short wait . . .both good signs. The tacky faux country décor, ugly formica and plastic flowers were all promising in a perverse the-worse-the-place-looks-the-better-the-food sort of way. They even managed to mis-spell “Countr[y]” on the specials board. Anticipation built as we were seated and the waitress gave us menus encased in heavy plastic with pictures of Grandma and Uncle Jed, the founders from Arkansas. But unlike the sumptuous specials board with its pictures of country scrambles, chicken fried steak (the Holy Grail of country food) and waffle specials, the waffle part of the menu at the Country Waffle House was skimpy with only a few overly fruity/whipped cream entrees. (If not for Prop 64, I would have considered a false advertising class action) (before any right-wingers scramble over that parenthetical – pun intentional- it was a joke. Sort of.) I decided to stick to the basics... a plain waffle, which came with bacon or sausage and eggs; unlike the waffle special which also came with bacon or sausage and eggs, but which added 2 out of season strawberries and a slice of hard yellowish cantaloupe for $1.25 more.

First, the coffee. It was weak but at the same time of industrial quality and tasted less like coffee and more like the residue of instant. We had to ask for another cup when the cream (in those little plastic containers) separated when added to my wife’s coffee (karmic pay-back?)

The waffle, served with a large scoop of margarine (yum) which the waitress said was butter, was indeed exactly as advertised -- plain. In all respects. As I ate it, it occurred to me that maybe it had not been fully prepared on the premises as it was almost perfect in appearance. The bacon was inedible and the eggs could easily have been powdered. The best part of the meal was the peppermint at the counter. We beat feet out of there as fast as we could and hit the computer to beg your assistance.

So, can any SD Chowhounds help us out? Where is there a good waffle in this town?

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  1. I like (love) The Original Pancake House in Clairemont. It's a chain, but not a typical chain. They get very busy, so be prepared to wait. Alternately, you can go closer to lunch time and the wait won't be as bad.

    There is no margarine to be found on their food, and the coffee is quite good (IMO) for that kind of place. They also make their own whipped cream, and it's very good.

    They make amazing potato pancakes as well.

    They're on Convoy St., south of Balboa.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Josh

      I agree with the OPH, specifically the Clairmont location. I've been to the Poway one several times, but am always disappointed. The coffee is excellent (as good as my grandmother's "damn fine coffee") and the waffles are very good. None of that awful vanillin flavor that lots of diner waffles have.

      OT, but their eggs florentine are a personal favorite, full of fresh baby spinach and a passable hollandaise (a little too lemony, but OK). Probably can't get then right now with the spinach scare.

    2. When I last visited SD, my friends and I had breakfast at The Cottage. They make seriously delicious brunch.

      3 Replies
      1. re: chica

        Did you have the waffles? I can't eat there anyway. It used to be a pet store and I can't get over it. And there are too many tourists

        1. re: hungrylawyer

          It probably is a touristy place - after all, I was a "tourist"!

          No, I didn't personally have the waffles, but my friends did and raved about it between mouthfuls.

          1. re: hungrylawyer

            This is hilarious - I have exactly the same problem. I used to buy food there for my pet duck when I was in the 5th grade and I just can't get over how gross that place was!

            I miss John's too - couldn't believe it when they closed. We usually go to Harry's (my parents still live in the area) but their waffles aren't anything to write home about. I make them at home - one easy way to do it is to use the mix from Whole Foods with cornmeal and whole wheat. Ignore the instruction to separate the eggs and just put them in whole, and use an equal quantity of melted butter instead of oil. Delish!

        2. Recently I saw some rather good looking waffles in PB, at Belgian Frie. I didn't try them, so I cannot recommend based on taste. But they did look fresh, and plump yet airy.

          The shop puts a lot of whipped cream, or other junk on the waffles. Unless you're a fan of gloppy toppings, ask for the fixins on the side.

          1 Reply
          1. re: notjustastomach

            Haven't had the waffles there, but their Belgian Fries are quite tasty. Good dipping sauces too. The owners are real nice.

          2. Funny..........I had a waffle for breakfast today too. A very, very, very good waffle. A pumpkin waffle. My breakfast buddy had the 5-grain waffle and it was almost equally as good, but the pumpkin waffle was just a bit better.

            It's not exactly close to La Jolla, but it's definitely closer than El Cajon and access isn't that bad. Head down I-5 to 2nd and Island downtown and Cafe 222. We arrived about 11:40 AM and the wait was about 20 minutes. We ended up taking counter seating when someone else turned it down. Counter seating may not be everyone's cup of tea, and if you're short it's probably not a good idea. The counter is high and the tall chairs not quite tall enough. I am not short and the counter hit me at chest level. We had an unobstructed view of the miniscule cooking space. 2 cooks, 6' of counter/prep space, a 3' flat top and a 6 burner wolf range. That's it.

            The menu is short, the usual eggs, potatoes and toast with or without meat, 4 or 5 scrambles, eggs benedict and some variations and pancakes, but the waffles and french toast are the draws. There are at least 5 or 6 waffles on the menu, buttermilk, corn, pecan, granola, 5-grain and the epyomous pumpkin. They come as is, or with breakfast meat, or with breakfast meat and eggs.

            Each waffle is prepared to order on a standard commercial belgian waffle maker. Batter is laddled onto the waffle iron, the lid closed and the entire assembly rotated to activate the timer. When done the waffle is flipped out onto the flat top and finished, as in crisp up the outside. The waffles are then topped with a generous scoop of whipped butter and half a strawberry. Syrup (and catsup) is served in a squeeze bottle to minimize clean up.

            A couple of months ago I had breakfast at Richard Walker's Pancake House, with the same breakfast buddy no less. One of us had the pecan waffle there, but both of us tasted it and we both thought it had an odd taste. The waffles we had today at Cafe 222 were heads and shoulders BETTER than what we had at Richard Walkers and several dollars cheaper.

            The coffee was also good and our waitress kept our cups well topped off. Service is casual but efficient and attentive. Cafe 222 is a very small space and the staff does an excellent job of keeping food and people moving through it.

            You might also try Perry's on Morena Blvd. by the Old Town transit center. I've had their pancakes and some egg dishes and they were actually pretty good for what they were (i.e. truck stop food). I'm guessing they may do a pretty respectable waffle, or at least one that's way better than what you had this morning.

            1. I had an excellent waffle at The Big Kitchen about 2 weeks ago. They only serve one kind - plain - but will top it with strawberries, bananas, blueberries - if asked. They were having trouble with their iron and for awhile there were no waffles. The restaurant must have gotten a new one. I like to sit in the section with the counter because the "theater and soul" of the restaurant usually occurs here.

              I agree with others about the Clairemont The Original Pancake House - that is the better one. When I am there, however, I get their Swedish pancakes with ligonberries because I can't find that anywhere else.