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San Francisco Bay Area Breakfast

Working class breakfast redux

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Working class breakfast redux

Ruth Lafler | Jan 21, 2002 02:49 PM

For Patrick's benefit alone [g] I made good use of 45 unexpectedly free minutes Saturday and had breakfast at Jim's Coffee shop in Alameda (Lincoln, just west of Park St.). Jim's is the most "working class" breakfast I know of, and proudly proclaims itself "family owned since 1960" (there are clues that the family in question might be Greek, which I think of as very traditional).

Jim's always has a line out the door on the weekends, but it moves fast and there were several spots open at the counter. In addition, on weekends they set up a coffee service outside so you can help yourself while you wait.

My counter seat was just in front of the actual cooking area (six-burner range and flat grill, with an open flame grill one station over. I really enjoyed the show -- I think it's a must for any fan of short-order cooking: fried eggs were flipped easy over with a flick of the pan; sauteed veggies were tossed and turned while the cook had his head turned away in conversation; spinach was cooked on the grill with a sizzling splash of water and a pot lid clapped over it to steam, etc. Great fun!

I ordered the diced country ham and egg scramble (with the usual choice of potatoes, toast, etc. -- $5.50), which was excellent (good quality ham, nice chunks of green onion) and more than I could finish. The main disappointment, as always, was the hashbrowns. Sitting where I was I could see the problem: they cook them in a huge mound on the grill then divided them up into portions, so the crust to inside ratio is way too high and they don't have much flavor. The home fries on the grill looked good, though, so I think that might be the way to go.

Alameda has somewhat of an undeserved reputation for being upscale -- in point of fact, except for a couple of neighborhoods, Alameda has always been a blue collar and military town, as reflected by its coffee shops (Jim's, Ole's, Tillie's). Sitting in Jim's, you can well believe that Berkeley and its yuppie breakfast places don't even exist.

Since I know Patrick bikes, I'll just point out that Alameda is a great place to bike (completely flat, interesting architecture, nice bit of shoreline), and that Jim's is easily accessible by taking BART to Fruitvale and taking the Fruitvale Bridge (which has a bike lane which I believe continues on the other side down Tilden right to Jim's).

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