Gluttonous Maximus

Posted October 3, 2007 in Eats

Despite the aromatic wafts of horse manure aerating the otherwise smoggy Norco skies, that wasn’t enough to keep a line of ravenous diners from snaking out into the parking lot of the Cowgirl Café. Luckily for me, by the time I arrived a couple of U-turns later, the crowds had dispersed, leaving my brat children one less thing to latch onto in their eternal bitching. 

The Cowgirl Café is not one of the dime-a-dozen burger joints that pollute every corner of the IE, and if the unregulated dung scent didn’t already clue you in, it’s not exactly a tourist stop off the I-15 either. But inside, it’s pure Americana—dining rooms packed with oversized couples perched squarely on plain black chairs, large families not really shushing noisy children, sunglass-wearing ZZ-Toppers and biker dudes occupying prime real estate at the breakfast bar, cowboys and yuppies coexisting in one room. It’s a genuine birdbath of the best the IE has to offer. And the Cowgirl has the hearty fare for this hearty crowd.

The cowgirls themselves seem to harbor a fond appreciation for the carb-laced portions, which are the café’s claim to fame. Splattered on the walls throughout the joint are images of famous and not-so-famous cowboys, as well as cute little placards (joking, of course, in the way only teasers do), echoing the sentiments any one of my fellow diners could be secretly thinking, like “There will be a $5 charge for whining” (I’m hungry and this is taking too long,” whines somebody fairly close) and “All children running loose will be towed away and stored at owner’s expense” (oh, how I wished this could’ve been true). 

The menu is heavy on the breakfasts and light on lunches (mainly burgers and sammies). Cowgirl Amy arrives with quick refreshments and a smile aiming to please. Right off the bat, she describes the Kitchen Sink, a heaping omelet chock full of meat and veggies, the chef’s eggy equivalent of pizza with the works. My older son settles on the Cowgirl Burger and Fries, while I fess up to a hankering for the Pancake Sandwich with scrambled eggs and a full order of bacon. For an extra $3, I add on the strawberries and whipped topping. Hey, I figure I’ll be walking off the carbs, so I may as well pile it on high and eat like locals! Lastly, we force a child-sized breakfast pancake, bacon and eggs on my younger, whining little monster.  

We settle in for some people-watching, but this soon turns to food-watching as neighbor after neighbor receives their plate. The guy on my right douses his home fries and hash with tons of hot sauce, but it’s the biscuits and gravy that has my mouth watering. And the special they put out on the breakfast board that I guffawed at on account of the rest of the menu—the Huevos Rancheros with the fresh tomatoes and avocados? That’s what the skinny, dowdy guy over at the bar is consuming when my Frisbee-sized pancakes arrive at the table, covered by whipped cream the length of a football field under sweet strawberries oozing in their own juices. My jaw drops in pure horror, and Mr.-Biscuits-and-Gravy sitting next to me looks over and chuckles, nodding and raising his cup of coffee to me in salute. Amy smiles smartly and reminds me, “Yep, that’s what we’re known for around here.” That’s before my eggs and bacon arrive, which immediately convinces me that my stomach can’t stomach what I so blithely ordered.

Long story short . . . I digest one-third of my Cowgirl Pancakes, one spoonful of eggs, and one-third of my Mason jar of Coke before I burst. My older son finishes off one patty before he calls it quits. And my whiner . . . well, he polishes off all the bacon while using the leftovers for the happy pancake face he’s created. The moral of all this gluttony: come only if you’ve got more than a tire to spare, and share. As I sit with top button undone from my jeans, I ride happily off into the sunset thinking of warm afternoon siestas and the comfortable passing of some cowgirl gas. Yee-haw, pardner! 


Cowgirl Café, 2859 Hamner Ave., Norco, (951) 371-5465. Open daily, 6 a.m.-2 a.m. Cash only. Breakfast/lunch for three, around $26.





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