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Sep 6, 2007 03:45 PM

Tall Pines Coffee Shop-Monrovia

I've been meaning to mention this restaurant after giving it a try several weeks ago. It's a little, discreet place that we've been curious about because you can't really see the inside from the street and the name doesn't tell you much about what sort of food they serve. It's visible when you exit the 210 East at Myrtle (just a little south of the Wizard of Bras).

My boyfriend and I thought it might be a good breakfast spot for maybe some pancakes, or steak and eggs?
Well, we were pretty surprised to find that it's primarily a bar that served some pretty darn good Mexican food. There were patrons sitting at the bar having big bowls of menudo along with their beer, a pool table in the middle, and one very friendly, hard working waitress taking orders, serving, and bussing tables. I ordered one fish and one chicken soft taco which tasted delicious--filled with tomatoes, lettuce, cilantro, and avocado, they were some of the best and freshest tacos I've tasted. My BF had a chicken quesadilla which was a pretty good size with lots of cheese; he noted it was a bit on the greasy side though he still liked the taste and the generous amount of grilled chicken.
We were even happier with our food after we got our bill--a little over eight dollars for the both of us!
The menu does offer some "American" style breakfast dishes but I think I would stick with the Mexican food here.
Was wondering if anyone else has tried Tall Pines before? I think this is one place we'd like to revisit soon.

Tall Pines Coffee Shop
1540 S Myrtle Ave

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  1. Thanks for the intrepid research! I grew up in Monrovia and have seen this place for 20+ years but have never set foot inside. Now I know I'll have to on my next trip home to see family (live in London now).

    I think the real reason people never notice Tall Pines is because they're too busy gawking at the size 54HHH 'marvel of engineering' in the window of Wizard of Bras. Or maybe I'm just speaking for myself :)

    1. I walked in once about a year ago on a Saturday for breakfast but I had no cash on me (they are cash only) and on the way to the ATM I changed my mind and went to El Matador instead. Thanks for the good rec. Now I will have to try it!

      2 Replies
      1. re: WildSwede

        Thanks for mentioning the Cash Only thing; I don't think there's an ATM in the place either. Yes, do give it a try!

        1. re: Augusta

          No, there isn't - it was during the trek to the ATM that the El Matador idea popped into my head!! ;-)

      2. Augusta, Thanks for the rec. I have driven past this place for so many years. With your rec I finally stopped in today for breakfast. I had chorizo and eggs, a hard shell taco on the side and a cup of coffee – $7.45.

        The ambiance is “1940's / 50's frozen in time California roadside café.” This place reminds me of an old fav in Baldwin Park, "The Baldwin Park Social Club" which is long gone. The old counter with stools, pool table, booths, old tables w/ chairs, the old cash register, the religious figures over the beer taps – all create an ambiance / setting of an old movie set. I hope it never changes.

        As I sipped my coffee I saw the cook cutting fresh onion in the kitchen. Then from the kitchen (just like at home) came that great smell of fresh chorizo cooking. This chorizo & eggs was fresh, moist and flavorful. Yet, I have had no aftertaste at all today. The reason it was so good is because it was cooked to order and not sitting waiting for someone to order it. The small bowl of salsa was also good.

        The shell of the hard shell taco was browned perfectly and was hot, crispy, crunchy, and had a great flavor. The meat was marinated Asada and was also very good. Some day soon I will have 2 or 3 of these tacos with a cold beer for lunch.

        I will work my way through the menu and I look forward to bringing my group here soon. Thanks again for trying this place out.

        Tall Pines Coffee Shop (Cash only, Breakfast /lunch, beer on tap)
        1540 S Myrtle Ave (1/2 block South of the 210 fry)
        Monrovia, CA
        (626) 358-9084
        Open Mon to Fri, 8:00am until midnight or 1:00 am.
        Sat / Sun open at 7:00 am

        14 Replies
        1. re: JeetJet

          Hi Jeet. Thanks for trying it! What other offerings did they have for breakfast? Any chilaquiles? I think it will definitely need to be a Saturday-morning-after-the-farmer's-market-breakfast stop for me!!

          1. re: WildSwede

            I looked at the menu a little, but after I took a seat by the corner window the guy brought my coffee and water to the booth and I asked about the tacos. I only noticed the chorizo and eggs and pancakes on the menu but my wishes were already met, so I stopped reading it. I did notice the menu went-on with both Mexican and American style items. I did not get any chips but maybe chips are on the menu -- not that I need any chips. I did like the salsa. This place is a good find. In fact I will probably return very soon. I was the only customer at 8:30 am today. I wonder what this place is like at night? The counter has maybe 12 stools and it could turn into a bar scene very easliy but the cook told me that food is served all night.

            1. re: JeetJet

              Interesting. When I went in, it was about 9:30am on a Saturday and I think there were 2 people in there, sitting at the bar, not counting the people working there.

              1. re: WildSwede

                I went back at 8:15 am today and they were not open yet. One hour later I was driving past again and I noticed the Red electric "OPEN" sign was pluged-in. So I stopped for breakfast.

                Yes, they do have chilaquiles. I had mine with two eggs over-easy, rice and that crispy asada taco on the side, w/ coffee -- $9.50.

                Today there was a women running the counter and doing the cooking. The taco was just as good as the one I had yesterday. I usually never order chilaquiles but since you mentioned it.... Once again, a good breakfest with lots of flavor but no after-taste. What made the chilaquiles good was the quality of cheese and the amount of it. The sauce on the chips was flavorful but not over done. The red sauce on the side went very well on top of everything.

                This place is not a "Fast Food" joint. It really is frozen in time -- early 1950's. The women running the show today reminds me of Nana. Nana was slow but her food was also worth the wait. So just take a seat, let your car engine cool down, have a drink and relax. Maybe think of better times in our country. If you don't have the time, then Jack in The Box is 1/2 block to the South. Sometimes I eat those crispy tacos also but the ones at Tall Pines are soooo much better.

                1. re: JeetJet

                  Will definitely try it - maybe even this Saturday morning! ;-) I will order the chilaquiles with chorize with the eggs over easy and plopped on top! Thanks Jeet! ;-)

                  1. re: WildSwede

                    That will be a good conbo. I forgot to mention that the menu includes Huevos rancheros, sausage, ham, hash browns, and home fries. I also nothiced a breakfast burrito for a little under $5. I forgot to ask what was in it -- damm. Oh, the coffee is OK with cream. I also like the big tumbler of ice water when you ask for it.

                    I noticed that the place does not appear to have air conditioning. That is part of the early 1950's ambiance I guess. So the only cooling system they have besides the roof-top cooler are the beer taps--enjoy.

                    1. re: JeetJet

                      Hey Jeet, when you get the chance, you have to try the Chilaquiles con chorizo at El Matador in Irwindale. On Irwindale Blvd. north of Arrow Hwy. They have the best ones I have ever had (you can get it with either red or green sauce, but I always get the red). Then I make my own salsa from the salsa bar (to the house salsa, add some of the pico de gallo (it is spicy - lots of jalapenos) and some of the green. It is DELICIOUS!! ;-) I always get the eggs over-easy on top. Damn, now I am hungry - and I just had breakfast!! ;-)

                      1. re: WildSwede

                        Unable to find an address for El Matador in Irwindale. I did find El Maeador. Does this place serve beer? LOL. Anyway, do you think this is the place?

                        El Maeador Restaurant
                        5312 Irwindale Ave (one block North of Arrow)
                        Irwindale, CA 91706
                        (626) 338-2080

                        BTW, my Chilaquiles at Tall Pines were all soft and covered with cheese. There were no crispy or soggy chips. Like I said, I usually do not order these so I do not know whether these were common to others like a standard but I did like the flavor. How are they at El M.... dor, Crispy, soft, soggy?

                        1. re: JeetJet

                          I think they misspelled it - that address looks correct. It is on the east side of Irwindale about a block north of Arrow). I would go with it. It is in an industrial area.
                          The chips at El Matador are also covered with the sauce and cheese. Obviously, the chips that are covered do get softer the longer they stay covered, but I have not had the occasion where I ever found them to be soggy. Then the chips not covered are crisp. They are just so good!! ;-)

                          1. re: JeetJet

                            The address is correct, although the restaurant's sign says "El Matador 2." The food is great.

                              1. re: WildSwede

                                OK, I went to "El Matador 2" this am. I had the Chilaquiles with chorizo & eggs. Very good. Tall Pines and El Matador 2 do use the same chorizo. Great flavor and no lasting after -taste. The presentation of the dish at El Matador 2 is so nice with the scoop of sour cream on top. The red salsa served on the side has a small amount of heat and a good tomato flavor. It goes well with the fresh chips and on top of the meal.

                                The coffee is also good and I drank three cups. Very nice little place (about 30 seats). I asked about the location of El Matador 1. and the guy said it was near the El Matador Meat Market in Monrovia (not part of the meat market) but that old location is now closed. He said, "Actually, now since there is no other El Matador, this place is now El Matador 1," as he smiled. Nice place, good food and service

                                BTW, just across Arrow Hwy. (behind the Jack in the Box) is Tacos La Buffadora. Very good fish or shrimp tacos.

                                El Matador 2
                                5312 Irwindale Ave.
                                Irwindale, CA 91706
                                (626) 338-2080

                                1. re: JeetJet

                                  Glad you liked it! Yeah, I used to go to the Monrovia one (much more convenient for me) when it was opened and only started going to the Irwindale one once it closed.
                                  Will have to try Buffadora! Thanks!

            2. re: JeetJet

              hi JeetJet:
              great report and I'm glad you liked it! you described the place very well--it does look like something from a different era.
              I'm looking forward to going back there myself soon.

            3. Sounds just like my kind of place. Driven by many times. I am always ISO great menudo especially "con pata". I guess I'll just have to stop in.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Al Bondigas

                Hi Al, I mentioned El Matador above. Every time I am in there, every table (other than mine) is slurping on the Menudo (and people are coming in with their soup pots to get some "to go"!). And they definitely ask the diners if they want it "con pata". I am guessing it is good here since everyone is eating it!

                1. re: Al Bondigas

                  I will try the Menudo at Tall Pines also. My fav right now is from Tacos la Bufadora. I go there for fish and shrimp tacos but on weekends they also serve Menudo. Upon the first spoon full in my mouth the flavor and texture made me pause in bliss. I turn and looked back toward the two girls standing at the counter who had just handed me the bowl and they were both looking at me with a slight smile as if waiting for my response. I said “This is gourmet.” They each said, “Yea. It is good huh?”

                  Tacos la Bufadora (Deep Fried Fish and Shrimp tacos and burritos. Try Shrimp Burrito with NO rice & beans request only the taco ingredients. Menudo Sat/Sun while it last)
                  10990 Lower Azusa Rd (Just West of Santa Anita.)
                  El Monte, CA 91731
                  (626) 575-7174

                  Tacos LA Bufadora
                  16020 Arrow Hwy, Baldwin Park, CA
                  (626) 962-0910

                2. So after catching up with everyone at the Pasadena Farmer's Market on Saturday morning, I drove out to Tall Pines for breakfast. It was a few minutes after 10 when I rolled up. Walked in and there was one man at the bar and not counting the two workers (one was the son of the owners and I am not sure who the cook was in relation to the family) there was no one else.
                  I went into the restroom to wash my hands. By the time I returned, the guy sitting at the bar had left. I had the place to myself.
                  I sat down in the booth in the corner and was brought a menu by the sweet young boy. After recalling the hard-shelled taco that Jeet mentioned and my soft spot for chilaquiles, I was ready to order. One hard-shelled carne asada taco and chilaquiles with chorizo, eggs over-easy on top. Glass of water with lemon.
                  I walked over to look at the menu on the wall and the young waiter (I did not ask his name) came over and I asked him what his favorite things to eat here are. He said he really likes the Chicken Fajitas and the chilaquiles. I asked him if the chilaquiles (I love that word!!) came with red or green sauce and then he mentioned that it is made with their house salsa (a passable pico de gallo) and quickly disappeared into the back. He came back and asked me if I wanted red sauce ("if you want it more spicy"). Never being one to turn down anything more spicy I said "yes, please".
                  I returned to my table and continued watching Discovery Channel's "Dirty Jobs". On that day he was cleaning out storm drains (in LA) and making sink drains. I have never seen that show before, but it had me hooting.
                  A little bit later, out came the taco. Lovely, crisp hand-fried tortilla filled with a tender, but not very flavorful (no seasoning that I could detect) carne asada (once I added salt and salsa it was really good) with lettuce and cheese. It was very good. I would definitely get that again.
                  Then came the plate of chilaquiles. It was so pretty. I know, I know, but it WAS pretty! They use the same chorizo as El Matador but put a lot more in the dish (actually, chilaquiles con chorizo is not on their menu - just plain chilaquiles). The eggs were over easy on top and the salsa gave it a nice tang. The red sauce that came on the side was really, really good - SO good! Nice bite to it, deeply flavored. I spooned some on top of the chilaquiles and dug in. I was in heaven. This version is definitely different than the one at El Matador but different in a good way. I would definitely order it again.
                  Service was wonderful and attentive. When I was halfway through my meal, another patron came in and ordered a beer and something. He finished his meal before I finished mine. Right before I left, another gentleman came in and ordered the Cocido de Res and coffee to go.
                  Total bill came to just under $9.
                  Next time, I am going to get that Caldo de Res. This is one of my most favorite soups.
                  If you are in the area, you should definitely go. All their sauces are homemade and everything is made fresh to order. Yum!

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: WildSwede

                    Nice morning that you had. I also want to try the Caldo de Res.

                    Today I had the Breakfast Burrito. The menu does not specify the exact ingredients so I took the liberty of asking for specific items. I asked for bacon, sausage, eggs, cheese and Home style potatoes and that was what I got. In place of the home style potatoes I assume they would add hash browns or beans and rice which is also on the menu. What made this breakfast burrito special was the home style potatoes. Fresh cut potatoes, onion, bell pepper and large chucks of fresh juicy tomato all fried together to order – perfect.

                    Those potatoes now have me thinking that my next Tall Pines breakfast will be from the American selections. Maybe the ham or bacon with eggs and Home style potatoes. In fact, I think I saw a plate of just the Home Style potatoes with eggs. Maybe that is the way to go. The flavors from the chucks of tomato, bell pepper and onion make these my idea on true “Home Style.”

                    1. re: JeetJet

                      That sounds good! Will have to try. Did you notice whether or not they grill/heat their tortillas for the breakfast burrito (nothing gets to me like a raw tortilla)? If I were to order the potatoes with eggs, I would get the eggs over-easy on top of the potatoes (with a side of tortillas)! ;-)

                      1. re: WildSwede

                        I just had the Home style potatoes with eggs over-easy up on top of the potatoes this morning. I had corn tortillas on the side along with that small bowl of red salsa. It was very good but I could not finish it -- too much food. My son was with me today and he had the same potatoes with bacon, eggs and two nice slices of wheat toast and butter. Good bacon and it was a nice American style breakfast. I had a diet Coke and he had a Snapple -- $11.50.

                        As for the burrito. The large flour tortilla was cooked well and I think it was griddled. I think i recall some dark spots on it from being a little browned but not overcooked. No reason to be concerned becasuse these people will make it the way you order it.

                        1. re: JeetJet

                          Sounds great! You are correct, they are eager to please. Thanks!