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Two breakfasts in Monterey area: A Tico's Update and Old Monterey Cafe

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Two breakfasts in Monterey area: A Tico's Update and Old Monterey Cafe

susancinsf | Jan 21, 2008 10:19 PM

Hubby and I spent a good part of the MLK weekend in Monterey. The plan was to dive, which usually means early starts and no time for a real breakfast, but well, the hotel room was nice and cozy, and it was cold (not to mention raining) so somehow we never made it out and about very early...yes, we are wimps when it comes to getting in 50 degree water when the air is colder than that...but there is a good side to our laziness: we got to sample more local restaurants than we usually have time to try...

Sunday we headed over to our favorite breakfast spot: Tico's in Seaside. At about ten am, only a few tables were occupied. We were glad there was no wait, but in a way I wish it were more crowded: Chowhounds, this place deserves your love!

I love, love, love the huevos rancheros at Tico's, but one of the white board specials called to me: wild mushroom hash with poached eggs, served with choice of toast (I got english muffin). It ordinarily comes with hollandaise sauce, which struck me as gilding the lilly, so I ordered without. The eggs were perfectly poached, and the hash was delicious with chunks of potato, onion and mushrooms, though the edges of the hash were a bit charred. Not overcooked, just blackened a bit more than I would like. Still, the dish was a success. Would be awfully rich with that hollandaise.

Hubby had a scramble with salmon. I didn't taste it, but he polished it off in a hurry.

Great coffee for hubby, a delicious latte for me and a glass of very freshly squeezed orange juice rounded out the meal...Total with tax but before tip was about $26. Service was excellent and friendly. Highly recommended.

On Monday we were downtown with vague thoughts of just getting some good coffee, when it started to rain quite hard and we ducked into a doorway that happened to house the Old Monterey Cafe...hubby pointed out that it was past time for breakfast, which was fine with me, since I had been wanting to try Old Monterey Cafe.

There were a few people waiting, but they were all in a group, and as a party of two we were seated immediately. Not bad for a holiday Monday, though I am sure the rain kept some folks at home. At times there were folks waiting, but I don't think anyone had to wait longer than ten minutes or so.

Coffee was brought immediately; it was fine, but nothing special. Our server delighted in pouring from a height of about a foot or more, and though it was a bit scary, he didn't miss once! Service in general was excellent: fast, friendly, efficient, especially given the crowds.

Hubby and I both ordered huevos rancheros. The plate they came out on was huge, but given that a third of it was a salad with tired lettuce, bits of tomato, some probably canned corn and avocado, which didn't appeal at all at breakfast, it was a large but not excessive portion.

The huevos themselves consisted of two perfectly cooked over-easy eggs, on rather oily, standard commercial tortillas, covered in some melted jack cheese, and a very small amount of tomato-cilantro salsa. We asked for extra salsa and it was brought quickly but didn't add much to the dish: it had fresh cilantro but canned tomatoes (though I suppose this time of year that could be a good thing) and almost no spice....

Some rather bland black beans were served on the side in a little fried tortilla cup, along with a separate small bowl with a few small slices of also rather tired looking honeydew, camtelope and orange slices....but, surprise, the huevos also came with hash browns, which were probably the best part of breakfast! These were real hash browns, and tasted somewhat smoky in a good way: perhaps from being cooked in a bit of bacon fat on the grill?

Total for our breakfast with two regular coffees and one glass of orange juice was also about $26 before tip. About the same amount of food as Tico's (if you don't count the salad I didn't eat), but not as satisfying.

Based on those hash browns, the perfectly cooked eggs, and the pancakes and bacon we saw going to other tables, I'd probably stick to the basics if and when I go back to Old Monterey Cafe. Or just head to Tico's instead.

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Tico's Breakfast & Lunch
330 Reservation Rd, Marina, CA 93933

Old Monterey Cafe
489 Alvarado St, Monterey, CA 93940

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