the breakfast dictator [215]

Wish You Were Here is Closing on 9/12/10

Posted in Uncategorized by thebreakfastdictator on August 31, 2010

No More Swedes

According to Wish You Were Here’s website, and some rumor around town, they will be closing. No word on a date yet, but hurry up and get some Swedes before they’re gone forever.

Will Rachel’s become the de facto Breakfast/Brunch in Lancaster city now? Or will someone pick up the mantle? WYWH has a great space. We’d love to see something else go in there.

Some insider info has revealed to us that a new breakfast place will soon be occupying WYWH’s space, but with Sunday’s close date quickly approaching, get your Swedes one last time!

Breakfast Portrait {14} | Heath-Paul (has varied interests)

Posted in Breakfast Portraits by thebreakfastdictator on August 21, 2010


Kanella | Washington Sq, Philadelphia, PA

Posted in Diner Review by thebreakfastdictator on August 21, 2010

Heath-Paul | Kanella

I heard about you all the way in Denver. You’re one of Esquire’s 59 Best Breakfasts. You’ve been on my mind for a year now. I couldn’t wait to meet you, and finally, to-day, we embraced.

Rumors of your French Press found their way to me. Choosing between this and the Greek Coffee (which I’d never had before) was difficult, but, really, is it ever wrong to go with a French Press full of Counter Culture Beans?

Center City always feels so different from the rest of Philadelphia; I even dressed a little differently than my normal white t-shirt and fancy jeans (ie: the jeans that don’t yet have holes in them). Here, the servers come to you in starchy white shirts and pressed black pants, complete with all-black Chuck Taylor’s. He politely recounted to-day’s specials and took our coffee order, which, I deliberated over a little longer than normal.

Minimalist French Press

To-day’s flatbread special was irresistible in its description, and the table behind us highly recommended it. And while I almost never order the specials of the day outside of regular trips to Morning Glory, I couldn’t say no this exquisite presentation and palette of flavor.

My appreciation of decor runs the spectrum of kitschy-kitsch to ultra-minimalist. Kanella nears the latter. The inside is simple – white, a few flowers in the windows, an exposed brick wall. It works here. No flair is needed. The food speaks for itself. So does service. So does the coffee.

Flatbread Special

The menu was trimmed with little extras — sides of fish, balaclava, falafel. What we had was plenty, but we couldn’t wait to come back for more. We’ll try the little treats on the side while indulging in hundreds of milligrams of thick black coffee; parking be damned.

Fifty-nine breakfast(es) listed. Three down, three thumbs up and fifty-six to go.

Kanella, we’ll be back at the expense of some of the others.

Hawthorne’s Biercafé | Breakfast Portrait {13} | Philadelphia, PA

Posted in Breakfast Portraits, Diner Review by thebreakfastdictator on August 20, 2010

Brian | Hawthorne's

March Madness 2007 began with a trip to the Sharp Edge in the Friendship, or is it East Liberty? or is it North Oakland? or is it the Garfield Neighborhood? (they all seem to run together over there) in Pittsburgh. The blue collar son of a blue collar son, I knew nothing of Belgian beers and now, despite having lived in Philadelphia for four years prior (and never drinking much more than a White Russian on occasion), I was getting my bier education. The server recommended a Poperings Hommel. I liked it so much that I wrote it on my hand. And the next day, when it started to wear off my hand at work, I wrote it on the wall. Then I wrote it on my brain. I would not forget this beer.

Poperings Hommel Bier

I found it at the Foodery in Northern Libs in the Spring of 09. Then Hawthorne’s brought it to me in the fall of last year. Despite it’s five and a half dollar price tag (for 11.2 ounces), who can resist? Especially with breakfast. Breakfast at 1pm.

Hawthorne’s so easily removes the “guilt” of day-drinking and/or having beer with breakfast (When I mentioned to a friend that during the World Cup that we’d drink Leinenkugel’s Sunset Wheat (the beer that tastes like Fruit Loops!) at 9am, she looked at me like I’d grown a third, fourth or maybe even a fifth eye). Despite the stigma, beer with breakfast is beautiful.

South of the Border

Breakfast joints like to name their items quirky little names — the Huevos Rancheros here goes by the fun little moniker “South of the Border”. That phrase conjures up one and only one image in my mind — the trashy rest stop along Interstate 95 in South Carolina and its bumper stickers and other odd paraphernalia that have made it (unfortunately) North. I persisted past the name and ordered regardless.

Huevos Rancheros(es) {how do you pluralize that?!} buckle my knees.

To-day’s breakfast wasn’t the first here. We wintered here a few times during the grandiose snowstorms the northeast endured in January and February. Spring sprang and we took advantage of the outdoor seating or the giant open windows that let the coolish spring air blow the scent of new life throughout. Summer heated up and we headed for cover in the air-conditioned coolness to sip on summer wheats. Some of the city snobs say it feels too suburban here. I just think it feels like a living room with a giant beer selection on hand.

We don’t want their snobbery here anyways; more room for us and our beer with breakfast.

Breakfast Portraits {12} | Austin

Posted in Breakfast Portraits by thebreakfastdictator on August 19, 2010

Austin | Honey's

The Pancake Farm | Ephrata, PA

Posted in Diner Review, Fine Living Lancaster by thebreakfastdictator on August 19, 2010

Pancake Farm | Ephrata, PA

First published in Fine Living Lancaster, Issue 13.

It seems that every little town has a breakfast place that goes unnoticed by most everyone but the locals. These are the little gems of the community: the places where the regulars come in every single morning and order the very same thing. The servers knew their names and vice versa. They chit-chat every morning about the goings on around town. These little restaurants are full of small town romance and charm and what a pleasure it is to visit them.

The Pancake Farm landed on my radar, I think, in the fall of last year when 222 was under construction and 272 was the “speedier” alternate. As I sat the red-light where 272 and State Street form a Y, it looked oh-so-full of promise.

The dining area was larger than it looked from the outside and every table was full. This place is a gem. There were no window seats, which, of course, is always my preference as the beautiful morning light streaming through the windows always makes picture-making so much easier. The bar had a few empty seats and now it had one less.

“You didn’t by any chance go to Cocalico, did you?”

“No. I didn’t.”

“Hmm. Well, you looked like one of my former students. I coulda swore you were him.”

“Nope. Sorry. I grew up in Solanco. In fact, I don’t even know where Cocalico is.”

“It’s not too far from here. Maybe a few miles. I taught there for ten years, but now I work for the state.”

Every day of the week, there’s a breakfast special here and it’s only $2.99. To-day’s looked rather welcoming and I knew I’d order it, but I asked for the menu anyway. Maybe it’s just a habit. I don’t know. I just have to look at the menu. I want to know all of my options. Every single one.

“I’ll have to-day’s special, please.”

Brian | The Pancake Farm

“You see your server?”


“She was one of my students.”

“Ha! That’s crazy. What’s your name?”


“I’m David.”

Lancaster County kitsch is different from any other kinda kitsch. You know you’re home (even if you’re in a neighboring town) when you’re in a restaurant or even a friend’s dining room when it’s decorated with little iron kettles and mason jars and other kitcheny sort of things.

“You come here often?”

“No. Not too often. I think this is my first time in about two months. But I should come more often. The prices are unbeatable and the food is great!”

Scrambled eggs, tomatoes and cheddar cheese wrapped in a sun dried tomato wrap arrived in front of me rather quickly and Brian was right. This food is great. I could come here every day. I could be a regular. Or at least a semi-regular. Oh, to dream.

“Hey, why don’t you hand me your check? I’ll take care it for you. It was good chatting.”

“You sure? That’s awfully nice of you. Thanks!”

“Where’re you headed to now?”

“I work in Mechanicsburg.”

“That’s awfully far. Enjoy your day!”

“You too.”

Every little town has a few breakfast gems. To-day, I found one of Ephrata’s.

Wish You Were Here | Lancaster, PA

Posted in Breakfast Portraits, Fine Living Lancaster by thebreakfastdictator on August 18, 2010

Erika | Wish You Were Here

First Published in Fine Living Lancaster, Issue 13

It’s so cold out. It’d feel better to stay in bed. It’s warm here. Really warm. But there’s breakfast waiting. Well, it’s not waiting just yet. But it will be. Hurry up. That flannel shirt looks warm and so does the thermal for underneath it. I wonder how close I’ll be able to find parking? I’m late. Man, I’m always late. She’ll be waiting. Better text her and let her know.

The cold January morning was punctuated with splashes of the quick-rising sun. The sun in the winter-time is bitter sweet. In the morning it is beautiful, falsely promising temperatures it could never deliver. On those afternoons, I wish for grey clouds. Grey and winter simply belong to-gether. But on this frigid January morning, the foggy front window and warm yellow glow of this downtown breakfast joint was unbelievably welcoming. Warmer temperatures, hot Square One coffee and pancakes await.

We got a window seat. I love sitting by this window, even when it’s fogged. The light is soft and beautiful, perfect for picture-making. Our waitress, one I’ve not seen here before, came and brought us coffee. Square One coffee. I love that coffee-shop. They’ve got the best coffee around. Sipping it felt so good. This place feels so much like home. I’d put these tables in my kitchen and that wainscot too. I might even paint it green, just like it is here. You know what? I even had a dream about this place last night and it was my home.

The first time I ate here was oh-five or oh-six, maybe? The single-sheet yellow menus haven’t changed since then but I fawned over them like every other time I’m here. I know what I’m gonna order but I mull over every item anyways. While I can’t remember the precise date of my first jaunt here, I do remember what I ordered – the Swedes. These were quite possibly the best pancakes I’ve ever had. I order them ‘most every time I come. And I don’t even like pancakes.

It was good catching up with E, though every once in a while, I’d get distracted by the loud-ish conversation coming from the larger group at the center of the room. Our tone was slightly somber, but as we were caught away by this blithe breakfast experience our mood gladdened about the same time we finished filling ourselves with this fantastic food.

Morning was growing old.

We paid and exited into the bright blue morning.

The sun was still out but it was no warmer.

Breakfast Portrait {11} | Post-Morning Glory; Melissa Choi

Posted in Breakfast Portraits by thebreakfastdictator on August 18, 2010

Melissa | Morning Glory | March 2010

Waveland Cafe | Des Moines, Iowa

Posted in Diner Review, Travel by thebreakfastdictator on August 15, 2010

Waveland Cafe | Des Moines, Iowa

1,103 miles is a long way to go for breakfast.

I’d heard about this joint in the fall of 2007, shortly after we’d started the Breakfast Club in Pittsburgh. Wayde and Erin were soon to be engaged, I’d recently started the original Breakfast Dictator, and despite the distance we kept in touch on at least a few topics – breakfast was surely one of them. So, in July, when I finally made my way back to Iowa, after a two and a half year hiatus, the Waveland was certainly on my hit list.

It boasts the best hash-browns in the universe. It has one of those racks that, just to the right of the bar, the regulars hang their mugs. Quirky paintings cover the walls and even the front windows. Some of the window art incorporates what one of the locals claims are bullet-holes. Is this true, or isn’t it? Such legend can’t be verified, but can’t be ignored either. Crime in Iowa? This place seems all to peaceful for that – a lovely blend of colorful people and perfect-Pleasantville (at least before the color is introduced).

Matthew's Mustache, among other things

Matthew grew a mustache. And not an ironic one, either.

“Lemme take your photo.”


….alright, but let me put my glasses on.

….it’s lookin’ pretty good, but I think I’m gonna shave it soon.

….check it!”

There’s a discrepancy on the mugs and on the menu. The mug reads “Established 1982”, the Menu “1984”. We ask our server. She asks the boss. The boss shakes her head and kinda laughs. “That sounds about right!”, she says. Our question remains unanswered. Bullet holes? Date of origin? Answers elude us. The legend grows.

Best hashbrowns in the universe, eh? I’ll have to have them. Two dippy-eggs and toast are my sides. The hashbrowns do not disappoint. I’ll take their word. I haven’t explored the universe yet. Though, perhaps Ron Paul has. His signature is on the wall.

“Any chance I can buy one of the mugs?”

“Yeah. We sell them. Do you want a small or a large?”

“What do you mean? I meant the one that I used. I’d like to buy it.”

“Oh no. We don’t sell those.”

“But I came all the way from Philadelphia.”

“You mind if he has a mug?”


“Alright, you can have this one. Enjoy your time in Iowa.”

1,103 miles was worth it.