Every weekend I do three things. It usually includes breakfast and recreational meandering; some people call the latter hiking. When it comes to breakfasting, I want it down-to-earth. And preferably in a tiny dive that’ll allow me to check off the quality and quantity boxes on the list. It’s getting harder to find these types of places. I reached out to my husband. Having grown up in the bay area, he’s sure to know about places other locals are hesitant to spread the word about. He finally digged into the childhood memory files and remembered a diner his family frequented: Country Way.
The keywords of the restaurant is a self-contained, SEO-approved slug. I like the country, I like classic country music and I like the way the old country makes food. We pulled up to a wooden pyramid-shaped teepee building with eves that touched the ground. The entrance of Country Way was plastered with posters featuring the specials, including the one I chose: 2 boneless porkchops, 2 eggs, homefries and toast for $8.95. I never order homefries. Every homefry that has had the schutzpa to appear on my plate always features green bell pepper and near raw crunchy yellow onion in a dilapitated mashup. This time homefries were a pangaea of tender and crispy potatoes…nothing more. Potatoes par-boiled, cut into slices and then tossed onto a flat-top to achieve maximum and socialistic crustyness. I’m in love.
The inside of this restaurant is dark. It’s bustling with happy customers and servers constantly refilling half empty coffee mugs. It’s lined with wooden panels depicting the inside of a homestead ranch. An endless sea of booths. Triangle windows mimic the exterior of the restaurant, but frame the trees outside. My over-medium eggs were…over-medium eggs. Whites cooked through with a runny yolk. My brain was expecting the thicker chop to be tough because it was a lean loin cut. It was tender, it was moist, its edges crusty with char, it was…teriyaki-ish. It had a teriyaki marinade quality; sweet, sour, umami. It was delicious.
The plates never ran empty, because it seemed no one could finish their meal. The seats never ran empty, they filled em’ as soon as they emptied. The 8oz coffee cup never ran empty, just be warned this unlimited coffee costs you around $2.50. The stomach never ran empty. And when you have a full stomach, you have a full heart. Until you empty your full stomach trying to fight the natural order of inertia by tredding up the steepest hill your overweight frame has ever encountered…and succeeded in conquering. I conquered two hills that day: my homefries and Coyote Hills.
Everyone has (or should have) a breakfast joint like this in their memory banks. For me, a river-side breakfast buffet that offered my first taste of chicken fried steak. Although the buffet restaurant might be defunct in reality, it’s not defunct in my heart.
5325 Mowry Way, Fremont, Ca 94536