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Paul's Place and Bakery, Merced; breakfast report

susancinsf | Sep 27, 200905:24 PM

My favorite breakfast place in Merced, Cinema Cafe, is closed Sundays, so hubby and I decided to head to Paul's Place, a diner that is apparently more or less a Merced institution (it has been here forever;walls are covered with photos of staff, customers, VIPs; the Rotary meets there on Fridays...). We wanted a standard but good American breakfast and a chance to read the Sunday papers, and for that, Paul's Place delivered.

It was packed when we got there around 11, but we were seated immediately at a corner four top. Plenty of room for the paper. It did slowly empty out while we were there and at noon the breakfast special sign went down and lunch special sign went up. Noise levels were quite reasonable despite the crowds and lots of multi-generational family groups. I am sure that breakfast at Paul's is an after-church tradition for many in town.

Service was very good: fast, efficient, and our no-nonsense server checked up on us regularly. and kept coffee cups and water glasses filled.

Hubby had a linguica omelette, with hash browns and toast, and was very happy with it. I thought the omelette was well made, but the linguica was diced into very small pieces; I'd have preferred them to be somewhat larger. The hash browns were well browned and crispy. The home fries that I saw at other tables also looked very nicely done: definitely made in house.

I had the house made corn beef hash, with two poached eggs and the fresh fruit as a side (One has a choice of fresh fruit, hash browns or home fries, plus toat, but potatos seemed like overkill...). The hash was perhaps slightly above average but not great. The eggs, however, were poached hard, a major disappointment. I debated sending them back, but didn't. I hadn't specified poached soft, and they were poached...next time I will be very clear, or order over easy. Harder to screw up. My rye toast was fine.

portions were generous, coffee was nothing to write home about. Prices were very reasonable: $7.75 for the corned beef hash, two eggs, fruit and toast; and $8 or so for a large linguica omelette with a generous portion of hash browns, and toast.

I had read in another forum that Paul's has a seperate unadvertised Portuguese menu (at dinner) but the host/manager informed me that wasn't the case. He did say that, in addition to Portuguese beans (always on the menu, I was tempted to try them with linguica for breakfast), there are sometimes Portuguese specials on the Thursday night dinner menu, as well as occaisonal Portuguese 'theme nights'. Has anyone tried those?

Given the 'Bakery' in the title, I scoped out the baked goods in a case by the front door. Appeared to be mostly cream pies and items that actually aren't really baked, though there is a sticky bun on the menu...didn't see any in the case however. Perhaps they get claimed early...or the baker takes Sundays off.

I'd say Paul's Place is a solid if not exciting breakfast choice, and I'd go back, particularly on a Sunday when some spots in town are closed. Too bad there really isn't a 'secret' Portuguese menu....

Paul's Place is at 2991 G Street, near Olive.

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