A review: Pop's Cafe, Santa Ana CA
What's obvious from the moment you walk into Pop's Cafe is that this smallish diner has been around for a long, long time. I'm not familiar with the history of the place but I'm guessing it's either been passed on to family members and or sold to different folks throughout the years. Either way I'm also guessing that they've pretty much kept the same menu for a long time other than to add new types of food items that weren't around in the beginning, like chicken fingers and such.
What I am familiar with is good food when I taste it. It's becoming a habit of mine to order at a B&LD, if it's on the menu, one of my favorite breakfast plates, chicken fried steak (CFS) and eggs. Which luckily for me was on the menu here at Pop's. I thought one of my other 'favs', when it comes to breakfast restaurants, couldn't be beat with their CFS. Pop's I humbly apologize. Here at Pop's...An incredibly crunchy, but not too thickly, breaded (sticks to the meat) piece of moist tender meat you could cut with a fork with just the right amount of a country gravy, that was just as perfect, with the right consistency of thickness and that didn't 'coagulate' into a lumpy mess while eating through your piece of CSF. So many restaurants just don't know how to make great gravy whether for CFS or biscuits and gravy. Another thing, most B&LDs, no matter how good, can't seem to get your toast to the table even warm let alone hot. Not a big deal to most people, probably, but it sure impressed the hell out of me that indeed my sourdough toast was not only crunchy, as good sourdough should be, but it was actually HOT, yes HOT! Emphasis intended. Actually the entire plate of food was served piping hot. Add in my perfectly cooked over easy eggs and a heaping helping of perfectly shredded and cooked hash browns that didn't turn into 'mash brown's' during cooking, usually a sign a place is using frozen, and you have a 5 star breakfast plate. Oh, oh, oh my glass of milk. Simple right? Not so. Just like toast should get to your table hot, milk should get to your table ice cold. This large glass of milk was served up ICE COLD in a old time thick milkshake glass which helps to keep it colder longer than thinnish glasses that are used in most B&LDs. Okay, okay end of story on the food.
Ambiance? Okay the place is a bit dated. But that only adds to the charm. The layout is a little cramped and the counter isn't as wide as the Grand Canyon and its chairs could use a little girth & padding added to the seats and backs. But again to me that just adds to the charm of the place. You know built back in a time when the nation wasn't experiencing the glut of overweight people that would have trouble maneuvering around in such a place. Sorry, I don't mean to offend, I'm just trying to get you to understand so when you visit your already acclimated and won't feel the need to needlessly gripe about it.
Service? Top notch this day. All ladies working were smiling, friendly, attentive. We were greeted immediately as we came through the door and when we sat at the counter asked what we wanted to drink. Once we made up our mind our order was promptly taken. The wait for the food was not long. And we had a nice conversation with our waitress at the end of the meal. Definitely will be going back to try something off the lunch menu. I would bet they serve a great burger! Highly recommended!
The deep-fried french toast is the best!!!! I gotta try the CFS . . . . hummmm . . . wish I was gonna be in town this weekend!!!!
Thanks for the report. Pop's sounds like a must try. Appreciate your effort, and your critique was well written. The B&LD critique crowd (vs. BL&D) ate all the orange marmalade at the table. LOL. Late night humor for the laughing impaired--me.