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PETE TITTL: Maggie's Sunrise Cafe moving up

It’s always gratifying to see a new, locally owned restaurant do so well in its startup that it expands quickly.

That’s what’s happened to Maggie’s Sunrise Cafe, which opened two years ago up in the northeast and recently opened a smaller, second restaurant on Rosedale Highway next to the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, across the street from Hungry Hunter Steakhouse. In a space that was last home to Sushi Kato next to the now-closed 24 Hour Fitness, they’ve brought the same innovative verve to the breakfast menu, though I think the dinner offerings still need a bit of work.

The original restaurant is a breakfast and lunch place, and there are so many great things we’ve enjoyed there in the past that are on the menu here. That would include Maggie’s Sunrise scramble ($12.95) made with russet potatoes coated with chorizo, served with avocado slices, bell peppers and onions. Really hard not to order that.

If you’re feeling carnivorous, the meat lover’s sourdough breakfast sandwich ($11.95) made with cheddar, ham, bacon, sausage and eggs hits the spot. If you’re trying to eat healthy, Tony’s turkey bacon egg white omelet ($11.95) is quite satisfying and I’m not even a fan of egg white omelets.

My favorite at breakfast though is Maggie’s chicken fried chicken breakfast ($13.99) because the chicken is breaded with spices and oatmeal to create the most interesting texture and taste. I’m a big fan of the chicken fried chicken breakfast served at Milt’s, but this is in another league entirely. Of course, it comes with eggs, toast or biscuit and hash browns or country potatoes.

I had to venture into something new for our recent breakfast visit, so I chose the steak fajita omelet ($12.95) and found a new favorite. I like the way Maggie’s does the omelets with a thin, broad, folded-over-many-times sheet of scrambled eggs, and this one was stuffed with small strips of beef and tiny bits of properly browned red and green peppers and onions, and there was Swiss cheese both on top and inside. The hash browns with it consisted of a thin patty that had been fried ultra-crispy on both sides, almost like eating deep-fried potatoes. Well done, and quite impressive.

As I mentioned the place is pretty small and every table was full on our weekend breakfast visit, but what fascinated me is that most customers were quietly conversing, (lots of families), but one booth of four had what I’d call a Projector Couple.

One man and woman were so loudly conversing that everyone in the place could hear them, a gift for eavesdroppers. The woman in particular seemed a compulsive talker. The patter included her husband’s vacation plans, a casino trip and discussions how she’s a planner and her husband won’t even make reservations at a restaurant and lately they’ve been shut out. She also shared that she just likes plain hamburger patties, but sometimes she promises him enchiladas before he goes to work and she just makes a hamburger when he gets home and he doesn’t like that. She apparently got laid off due to COVID and is at home all bored, it’s been a year and she’s not bitter after moving to Bakersfield right before it all happened. Oh, and a dead body was found in the parking lot at Walmart “but it’s getting better.” Of course, Newsom’s idiotic plan to ban fracking eventually came up.

The other couple listened patiently. When the food arrived, silence reigned.

Dinner was considerably less crowded and wasn’t up to the amazing experiences we’ve enjoyed in the mornings. With two companions we ordered the pot roast plate ($13.99), the pastrami melt ($11.95) and the chile verde enchiladas ($13.95). The best of the lot was the pastrami melt that had a thin layer of grilled meat, pickles, mustard and Swiss cheese on sourdough bread. I appreciated that it wasn’t overpacked, as that’s hard to pull off in a grilled sandwich.

My companion thought the chile verde was just a bit too tame for her tastes, and it possibly didn’t help that it was brought to the table lukewarm. The pot roast off the dinner menu looked just beautiful, with chunks of beef presented over mashed potatoes, with onions, celery, carrots and mushrooms in a brown gravy, all looking food magazine perfect but somehow lacking the zesty comfort food impressions we were expecting from it.

For the record, it appears the whole menu is available any hour the place is open, so if I visit again later in the day, I’d go back to some of my favorites, particularly the chicken fried chicken breakfast. In the world we live in today, is breakfast really only for the morning? I think not.

Pete Tittl’s Dining Out column appears in The Californian on Sundays. Email him at pftittl@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter at @pftittl.