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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Grapevine Cafe

This glorious first morning of September, I dropped my son off at the high school and drove straight to the island.  The bay was smooth as glass, pelicans floating, gulls diving as I crossed the causeway...just beautiful.  My first stop was the beach for a quick walk...there wasn't much of a breeze, though, and the sun was intense for 8:15 in the morning!  So, it was a brief walk.  I dusted my feet off and drove to Grapevine Cafe for breakfast (okay, that was my intention all along...the walk just makes me feel less guilty).

Grapevine Cafe, at Padre Blvd. and Swordfish, is a breakfast-and-lunch-only establishment; open daily from 6:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  It is reminiscent of a diner without the counter or waitresses with big hair and aprons.  The tables are linoleum topped - the chairs are wooden and vaguely uncomfortable (they slant forward just slightly and it feels like I can't get seated correctly - a friend told me that was purposeful, to keep the tables turning - who knew?).  Coffee is in a mug and sugar is in an old-school pourable dispenser. A fork and knife wrapped in a paper napkin on the table.  Customers reading the paper or watching the news - families on vacation, young adults often looking hung over, seniors, and locals.  Cheap prices for the island.  Nothin' fancy.  The service is generally good if they aren't crowded - with the same wait staff I've had since I first start going.  When they are crowded...prepare to wait for any attention, they get spread a little thin (raise your hand and signal a coffee refill).  Today, it's quiet on South Padre and there were only a few other customers...the service was great!

This is the second time I've been there in the past week - school's back in session and I have some morning freedom. (yay!)  Last week I had their Texas-sized breakfast taco.  The tortilla is  bigger than a dinner plate - it is HUGE and toasted on the griddle.  I had egg, bacon, cheese, and avocado with their homemade salsa slathered all over it.  I'm careful about the slathering - some days the salsa burns the Hades out of this white girl's tender mouth!  Their salsa is cooked and is served warm most of the time.  The taco comes with egg - anything more is an additional charge.  I generally can't eat the whole thing.... but I never seem to order their regular size breakfast tacos. 

Today, I had my sister Sheryl's favorite item - the fresh fruit, yogurt, and granola parfait.  Served in an old fashioned ice cream soda glass, it is a fabulous concoction of seasonal fresh fruit (cantaloupe, watermelon, apples, red and green grapes, and strawberries were in there today), plain yogurt, and a great crunchy granola with occasional bites of chewy dried blueberries and currants.  That, with a cup of coffee, is a great meal.  Today, because I was hungry, I ordered a side of bacon. bacon.  Their order was 3 pieces of crispy and tasty bacon.  The entire meal, with coffee, was $10 and some change. 

They have a daily special for both breakfast and lunch - in the $4-$6 range.  Today's breakfast special was 2 pancakes, 2 eggs, and 2 pieces of sausage or bacon - slightly over $4.  Lunch special today was chicken fried steak.  The only lunch I've had was their Enchilada Plate - basic cheese enchiladas, beans, rice, a tortilla, and more of that homemade salsa.  It was good, basic food for a good price.  My other companions, or myself, have had the huevos rancheros (muy caliente!), huge bowl of oatmeal with toast, pancakes, basic eggs and bacon, and tasty omelets.  The only thing none of us liked time and again, are the grilled biscuits.  They've been burned, returned for a different one, and the replacements dark brown.  I am unfamiliar with the practice of open-face griddled biscuits.  I'd like to stay unfamiliar with the practice.  Biscuits should be fluffy in my opinion. 

To summarize....diner fare with a nod to the border proximity by including many Tex-Mex menu selections.

I like that the owner is there every day that I've ever been.  He always offers a friendly wave and hello once he recognizes you as a local.  Grapevine Cafe is not haute cuisine - nor is it traditional island fare.  However, if you want a decent cup of coffee, fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice when it is in season, and a low cost but plentiful breakfast or lunch...this is a good choice.

3 – Pretty Yummy - I feel my flip flops wanting to head back from time to time!

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