6-19-16 / Nancy’s East End Diner / Pittsburgh, PA

Last Sunday morning, before going out to run all of our errands, my wife and I decided to return to a new favorite local spot of ours, Nancy’s East End Diner. The best kind of greasy spoon, I’ve been thoroughly impressed with their high-quality ingredients and friendly, warm service.

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I went all-out with the “Fat Cat” breakfast. 2 eggs (I requested over-medium), grits, 2 pieces of hot sausage from DJ’s Butcher Block in Bloomfield, and 2 whole pieces of Mancini’s Italian bread. The eggs were fresh and delicious, with golden creamy yolks, thickened slightly through the longer cooking time than over-easy. The yolks became a luscious sauce which I gladly mixed with the rough-ground and spicy sausage patties, scooping every last bit up with the substantial and thick toast. The grits were smooth and buttery, nice and light, and perfectly warmed throughout to provide a nice counterbalance to the rich eggs and fatty sausage.

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With the Fat Cat also came my choice of French Toast or Pancakes and I am confident and proud of my choice. These incredible griddle cakes were soft and sweet with a nice finish of vanilla throughout and magically crispy and buttery finish all around the edges. The edges of these thin cakes were like the best part of crepes and pancakes all mixed together into one. I didn’t even need syrup, as the light dusting of the powdered sugar pushed only the slightly-more-dense-than-air cakes into clear dessert territory. Paired with their peaberry blend coffee from Fortune’s, it was an outstanding breakfast. I look forward to returning many, many more times.

 

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the lovely shop right next door, Lovett Sundries. Run by co-owner Jeff, the store offers an incredible array of homemade, organic, sustainable cleaning products both for the home and body. Jeff’s charisma and obvious passion for creating environmentally conscious soaps is infectious. I can personally vouch for the Buff and Polish Soap, which scrubs vigorously and leaves my skin feeling crisp and clean. I don’t think a visit to Nancy’s is complete without at least poking your head in next door and seeing if anything Jeff has to offer interests you as well.

5-17-16 / BabyStacks Cafe / Las Vegas, NV

The next morning, we arose from our dutiful slumbers and ventured out towards an aggressive breakfast. Ironically,  BabyStacks Cafe was also suggested by the same local who suggested Carson Kitchen. It was equally amazing (albeit differently) and was yet another magical food oasis off the strip.

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My wife chose the house specialty, the Lolo Rick’s Adobo Fried Rice. Described as the “locals’ favorite” and “a traditional Filipino fish”, this omelette was stuffed with marinated shredded chicken and fried rice and topped with green onions. To me, it was like a Mad Mex burrito with better tasting chicken and rice. The shredded chicken was spiced beautifully and stood up to the heavy egg (and was there ever a lot of it to stand up to).  She ended up having a quarter plate of eggs left when all was said and done. It was delicious, but it was a LOT.

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Never one to see a food challenge and back away like a normal person, I went with the Chili Skillet. Hawaiian-style chili, with white onions, topped with shredded cheddar and monterey jack cheeses, and two over medium eggs, all over crispy, skillet-fried potatoes. The chili wasn’t tomato-based and I really enjoyed the crumbled sausage, spicy kick of the raw white onion, and the beautiful crunch of the tiny cubed potatoes throughout. It was like a decadent bowl of chili cheese fries. They weren’t shy with the spice and I found myself grateful for the upgrades to the “standard” buttermilk pancakes that my wife and I made.

Of course we opted to go big (as we were on vacation and couldn’t go home just yet). My wife went with the Hazelnut pancakes, literal hazelnut pancake batter drizzled with fudgey Nutella, hazelnuts, and homemade whipped cream with more hazelnuts. It didn’t come with syrup and for that I am thankful. It was like eating Nutella Cake, with whipped cream, for breakfast, and it was amazing. I went with the more sensible, but equally insane (nutty?) White Chocolate Macadamia Nut pancakes. Within my buttermilk battered pancakes were melty, creamy white chocolate chips, and crunchy, buttery macadamia nut pieces. Atop my buttermilk pancakes with white chocolate chips and macadamia nut pieces were MORE white chocolate chips and macadamia nut pieces. It came with syrup.

I’d like to say we were never hungry again, but you know me well enough by now to know that wasn’t true. We were however, absolutely satiated, comforted body and soul, as we treated ourselves to a wonderfully rustic, home-style breakfast.