There is nothing quite like breakfast on a Sunday morning. The inevitable dread of Monday morning looming, the 20- to 40-minute wait times at every decent restaurant within a 15-mile radius, yet, here in SoCal it’s likely a beautiful day and much needed after an eventful weekend. It’s all bittersweet, really. Since I am very much a breakfast person, I have been especially looking forward to trying Millie’s Café which opened earlier this month.
Serving breakfast all day, it’s located on the corner of Washington Boulevard and Hill Avenue in Pasadena, the newest and second iteration of the one well-loved in Silver Lake since 1926. On this particular Sunday following Thanksgiving, turkey comas and an overindulgence in pumpkin pie clearly didn’t keep the crowds away. To make the most of what was left of the holiday weekend I decided to bring my parents along this time, which was both fun and slightly nerve-wracking as they are pretty hard to please. When we arrived, there was a crowd of about 12 people waiting outside standing around, and although we were told it would be a 25-minute wait, it was closer to 35. In the meantime, we browsed their extensive menu and knew what we wanted to order by the time we were seated.
The interior itself is rather small and narrow, lined with table top counters against the windows, although not ideal for more than two people, and two main long rows that contain the majority of the seating. Our coffee was ordered first and we went traditional: Two coffees ($3.25) and an iced coffee which came in a large glass and tasted great. Millie’s checks off just about every milk alternative anyone could ever want: soy, almond, coconut, hemp, along with the trendier options of cashew and oat, all for just a $1 upcharge. Although it wouldn’t be our first choice for breakfast, we did notice they have fresh cracked coconut ($3.99) on their beverage menu, which is intriguing enough alone to plan for our return. We didn’t want to waste time browsing the menu once more, so we ordered our entrees as well.
On the “Breakfast Special” portion of the menu, we ordered steak and eggs ($17.99), made with 16 ounces of certified angus hand-cut ribeye steak, served with two eggs any style (scrambled), and sourdough toast. The steak was cooked and seasoned perfectly, tender and easy to cut. My father, whose favorite breakfast meal happens to be steak and eggs, was both delighted and impressed. My mom and I went rather simple, but after all the eating the previous days felt it was necessary. She went with The Usual ($12.99), made with two eggs any style (she opted for scrambled egg whites) served with an order of French toast, pancakes (or a waffle) and two strips of bacon or sausage (bacon, of course). Lucky for me, she went with pancakes and I got to try those fluffy beauties. They are light, but not too airy and even have a sweet taste to them. One bite and I knew I’d have to come back to try all of their specialty pancakes that include sweet potato, buckwheat, toasted coconut, banana walnut, monkey banana, fresh blueberry, and chocolate chip. Another unique feature is that Millie’s offers all of their pancakes in the classic short and full stacks, but in singles as well. As someone who loves to order bits from all over the menu, I appreciate the option to taste and not commit fully.
I went with a breakfast special as well, the two eggs with a choice of meat ($10.75) and like mother, like daughter, I ordered egg whites, but preferred the turkey sausage patty and their house-made biscuits. While the biscuit paled beside the pancakes, they were still delicious. Crispy and flaky on the outside, and fluffy and buttery on the inside, it was a great substitute to traditional toast.
Millie’s already extensive menu for meat eaters and vegetarians is accompanied by a separate, entirely vegan menu featuring a tofu scramble ($10.25), no huevos rancheros ($11.49), a healthy green burrito ($10.75), soyrizo benedict ($13.25), and gluten-free pancakes ($5.49-9.99), to name a few. You’d think they were strictly vegan with as many options as they provide. Both menus offer similar lunch options as well, making it the perfect place to dine for all kinds of dietary restrictions at any time of day (between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m.). The only miniscule thing I hope they tweak in their new home as they get settled in is that hash browns are only served Monday through Friday. As someone who only indulges in breakfast outings on the weekends, it would be a great addition to an already near-perfect meal.
What did make for a perfect overall experience at Millie’s Cafe was the outstanding customer service. From the moment we arrived, a man who turned out to be the owner, Robert Babish, was one of the most attentive people on the floor. Before being seated I walked in twice, and both times he made eye contact with me and asked how he could help before I even spoke. Once we were seated, servers whisked by, balancing full plates, drinks and checks, yet noticed each time my parents’ coffee hit below the halfway mark and offered refills, then refilled our waters when the carafe reached a level undesirable to them. We were asked multiple times how we were doing, and when Robert noticed my parents spoke Spanish, offered up to speak to them in Spanish as well. While this should all be a given for good customer service anywhere, it’s the eagerness and joy the entire staff exhibited that felt truly authentic and refreshing. It’s an added bonus that the food itself is amazing. My picky parents were happy and I foresee many, many Sunday visits here, and by the looks of the crowds Millie’s is already attracting, I’m not the only one.
1399 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena
Major Cards/No Alcohol