The Breakfast Grub

Posted March 11, 2010 in Eats

Pat’s Kitchen is one of those small-town, old-fashioned, no-frills greasy spoons that feels more at home amidst the flat prairies and empty highways of the Midwest than in this isolated rural pocket of Southern California. Inside the wood-paneled beams and interspersed among the red and white checked vinyl covered tables are families engaged in idle conversation, children busily shoveling pancakes into their mouths. Groups of geriatrics stow away in a corner of the restaurant drinking coffee and nibbling over a piece of pie, quietly taking in the action. Friendly waitresses, dressed in blue T-shirts and faded jeans, might come by and fill up empty water glasses and coffee cups when the mood beckons, while out in the great wide open, Mexican riders and horse-drawn carriages share highway real estate with cars speeding up and down Sixth Street. Life is more subdued in this 26-year-old Norco institution than in the slightly more rambunctious Cowgirl Café up the street.


Pat’s Kitchen is primarily known for its breakfasts, which are served all day long. One of the more popular items on the menu is the French toast ($3.50)—thick slices of sourdough bread fried up in an egg custard, with powdered sugar congealing in pools of melted butter that run off the edges as soon as it’s cut, boysenberry syrup drizzled lightly on top. The result is a sweet and savory carbohydrate nirvana not too heavy to be consumed in its entirety, but satisfying nevertheless. A half order of the biscuits and gravy ($1.75) consists of five mini buttermilk biscuits smothered in white gravy. While it may be a favorite among some locals, the gravy verged on the side of blandness for my taste. The omelets may be simple run of the mill omelets, but mighty tasty and filling.


Besides the usual diner fare of sandwiches, burgers (nice and juicy, done any way you like, and served with fries or another side for just shy of $6), and the occasional meat and potatoes entrees, Pat’s also features a rotating set of daily dinner specials that read like a who’s who out of a ’60s and ’70s era cookbook. Chicken cordon bleu finds an audience for the Sunday dinner crowd, while a simple Salisbury steak is served every Monday. Tuesdays mean Shepherd’s Pie, Wednesday’s all about the stuffed bell pepper, spaghetti is reserved for Thursdays and tilapia for Lenten Fridays, with pot pies rounding out the week.


Most entrees cost well under $10, leaving plenty of pocket change for a nice piece of homemade apple pie, a sundae, or even a thick, creamy shake—not the dispensed kind a la fast food joints, but the fattening kind made out of real ice cream and whole milk, which you have to dig out with a spoon. And the sundaes? Two gigantic scoops of ice cream served on top of a waffle bowl, or platter, and drizzled with chocolate and strawberry topping.


Pat’s Kitchen may be as humble as, say, apple pie, but don’t let its simplicity scare you. Its every nook and cranny exudes small-town Americana, only with big-town hospitality.


Pat’s Kitchen, 1217 Sixth St. Ste. 1A, Norco; (951) 371-9022. Cash only.


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