Thursday, May 13, 2010

Hooray for Hobee's

Why has Hobee's been voted best breakfast in Palo Alto by readers of the Palo Alto Weekly newspaper so many times it's now in the Hall of Fame? Let me count the ways. Hobee's offers the quintessential California breakfast and brunch with a lively atmosphere and comfortable setting. You can even order breakfast for dinner and no one will bat an eye. Starting with their very cinnamon-y hot or iced tea, robust coffee, or fruit smoothie, a meal at Hobee's brings comforting nourishment as well as big flavor and smiles. Featuring a diverse, friendly, healthy, and mouthwatering selection of choices, Hobee's is as sure-fire a restaurant for anyone looking for a satisfying meal as there could be.

Widely known for its tall blueberry coffeecake with cinnamon crumb topping, Hobee's features seasonal coffeecake flavors including apple walnut, peach pecan, cranberry, and banana toffee. The omelets and scrambles never fail to deliver. My favorites include the Florentine scramble with spinach, mushrooms, and cheese; the Pruneyard omelet with turkey bacon, onion, mushrooms, and Swiss; the Santa Cruz scramble with artichoke hearts and lots of garlic; and the breakfast burrito, a whole wheat tortilla stuffed with eggs, rice, salsa, cheese, and guacamole.  Sometimes I'll either take the coffeecake to go or just eat the top, which of course includes the cinnamon brown sugar topping. My husband often orders the BDBIT, the Best Darn Breakfast in Town -- two eggs, country-style hashbrowns, and coffeecake or toast.

Hobee's sells some items to go, including large tins of coffeecake, cinnamon tea, and crunchy granola. They also sell their famous t-shirts, and if you bring in a photo of yourself wearing the t-shirt at some far away yet recognizable landmark location, you can earn a free meal. Just look at the wall of photos inside every Hobee's to get an idea of its devoted fans and the lengths they will go to to get a free Hobee's meal.

Hobee's is always busy so if you go at the height of the breakfast or lunch hour, you may have to wait. I think the longest we've waited to get into Hobee's was forty-five excruciating minutes, but it's always worth it when nothing less will do. Luckily they have many locations in Silicon Valley. Just make sure if you're meeting a friend, to make it very clear *which* Hobee's you want to meet at so that you're not waiting and wondering, growing hungrier by the minute! (I speak from experience.) It is a good place to meet people, and sometimes you will overhear Silicon Valley business deals being made at nearby tables. It works for both business and pleasure get-togethers, but choose another restaurant if you're looking for a romantic meal or quiet conversation.

The restaurant is extremely kid-friendly with crayons, a kid's menu, and a fun happy face made of fruit on glass plates to start. My daughter Amanda's usual choice is the Mickey's Pancake, and she always gets a kick out of the menu item which reads, "Liver & Onions--with brussel sprouts, broccoli, eggplant, and lots of beets, $29.95." Dinner meals also please the palate: pastas, wraps, and sandwiches fill the menu, as well as burgers, salads, hash brown concoctions, and any of the breakfast egg dishes. It's a good place to bring a largish group with kids because there's something for everyone.

There must be something special in their cinnamon, because the cinnamon tea and cinnamon coffeecake have a special allure that always brings me back. It's extra spicy and flavorful, the kind that makes my taste buds do a little dance, and something about it fires off powerful neurons in my brain that reinforce my love of the place and the food. I wouldn't be surprised if scientific studies showed the cinnamon triggers endorphins which have the magical effect of stimulating animated conversation and pleasurable eating.

It's comforting to know that a Silicon Valley institution like Hobee's is just minutes away, and that here I can find one of my favorite breakfast meals even if it's for dinner. It would be hard to count how many times I've eaten at Hobee's over the years. Sometimes I take it for granted, and going there is more of an afterthought than a destination. But it's good to take a moment to be grateful and appreciate the wonderful elements of ordinary life, including nearby restaurants that have always been there. Hobee's definitely delivers.

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