It’s a Wing Thing

By Matt Tapia

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Posted July 8, 2010 in Eats

Who the heck goes to a small-town airport in search of satisfying grub? Well, evidently the regulars who have been making Flabob Airport Café in Rubidoux their go-to breakfast joint for years. And it shows. From the dozens upon dozens of framed photographs of local pilots and aviation-philes, from the personalized coffee mugs behind the counter to the comfy-cozy dining area that looks like it’s straight out of Aunt Hildy’s living room, it’s clear that this café’s got homespun charm in spades—and its loyal fans have left their fingerprints (figuratively, of course!) all over this humble eatery.

Now, if you’re looking for a fancy-pants place where you can impress your breakfast date with a $20 omelet combo or a thousand-item buffet, look elsewhere, Broseph. That’s what the Mission Inn and the Pomona Valley Mining Co. are for. No, here at the Flabob Airport Café, the truth is in the pudding, er, I mean grits. Cuz that’s the type of mom-and-pop comfort food treats that are to be had here. Lots of greasy, decadent morning-after meals straight off grandma’s iron-cast skillet.

While I’d been living in the greater Riverside area since the fifth grade and I was aware of Flabob Airport (even went there to cover an air show once), I never knew this old-school landing pad sported a dining establishment. Dining establishment. That’s funny. Because this place is lo-fidelity to the max. No feng shui here. Just tables and booths all crowded together for maximum seating. And décor—well, how do the aforementioned framed photos (some going back to 1925) and model airplanes (and a helicopter) dangling from the ceiling’s massive wooden beams with strings grab ya?

But there’s that view. One side of the Café is dominated by large windows overlooking the airport. It’s a mighty fine morning when you can enjoy your chorizo with eggs as a twin-engine Cessna 310 zips down from the sky and lands effortlessly just a few yards away from your stoneware plate. If that’s not a cheap thrill for landlubbers, I don’t know what is.

Now, regarding the food, the wheel sure hasn’t been re-invented here. If you fancy places with names like “Flo’s” or “country kitchen” in the name, then you’ve got a pretty good handle on the eats here. It’s all about the basics: Eggs. Toast. Grits. Black coffee. Omelets. Menudo. Big plates with big, heaping portions. Meaty. Greasy. Goodness.

Opting to not give a flying hoot about my cardiologist’s warnings, I opted to go for the bacon omelet, grits and coffee for my morning delight one recent Sunday morning. Filling. Stick-to-your-ribs. Weight Watchers, South Beach Diet—this ain’t. But delicious, in a buttery, Mazola oil kind of way—that’s what food here is all about. The omelet was served like a fat, yellow burrito with chunks of real (sorry, turkey and Jennie-O) bacon embedded inside the yolky interior. The grits were, well, grits. You really can’t mess these up. And the coffee? Diner quality. Just like I would expect. Want to get blank stares from the waitress? Ask for a frap. I’m not even sure they serve decaf here—it’s that just-the-basics here.

And speaking of homespun charms, there’s even an airport café dog here. Or at least the dog belongs to one of the regular diners. On the back porch sat a shaggy, scruffy mutt under a table that seemed as much at home here as the Flabob Aero Club meeting notice pinned to a nearby bulletin board. Yes, the bulletin board here is real. Actual push pins and everything.

Next time you’re doing a hangar crawl, try the stuff from this Café’s skillet. Your landing gear will thank you.

Flabob Airport Café, 4130 Mennes Ave. #207, Rubidoux, (951) 686-6660. 6:30AM-3PM every day. MC, V.


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