I'm an Ole's Waffle House (Alameda) loyalist, as much for their thick, juicy side of ham as for any other reason. Now, in the far foggy north, I may have found their equal.
McKinleyville sits just north of Arcata; take Business 101, go a couple lights, and start looking on the east side of the road; the diner is just past the medical center.
It's big, fairly generic in appearance, nothing to threaten the tourist eye. Inside, I chose the counter, so I could watch the short-order cooks. "Coffee, hon? Take yer order in a sec." I ordered the Hickory Smoked Ham Breakfast, $7.95, and watched them break the eggs into the pan from three feet up. It was out before I finished my first cup of coffee.
OK, remember the old one, "Sir, how did you find your steak?" "Oh, I just lifted up one end of the potatoes, and there it was." Right. How did I find my eggs, and hash browns, and the plate? They were somewhere under God's own humungous slice of bone-in ham. The waitress laughed at me. I coulda slept under that thing.
And it was tasty, not too salty, a little smoky, that almost sweet cured ham flavor, and a little char in the grill marks. Plenty juicy, nice and tender. I might have liked a little more fat; you'd probably like it just fine as lean as it was. Those eggs, well, it said two on the menu, but it looked like four; they were light and soft and altogether eggy-tasting, not drowned in salt and butter flavoring like scrambles often are. The butter, I think, went into the hash browns. More Joe Home-fry, myself, but these babies were alright. They folded them over to serve, so that several layers of crispy crust ran through the beast. Mighty fine, yes indeed.
English muffin, strawberry jam (packaged), one more cup, tip, toothpick, and I waddled on out of there. The sun broke through the clouds over Humboldt Bay, and all was right on the North Coast.
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