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Photograph by Pete Shea
Calorie Counter: Santa Cruz's beloved Silver Spur redefines the term 'hearty breakfast.'

Silver Spurs and Golden Pancakes

Morning rituals make the world go 'round, and this one is worth getting up for.

By Christina Waters

Breakfast just may be the last bargain on the planet--and done American-style, it's pretty much guaranteed to fill you full of protein, carbohydrates, fat, sugar and fresh fruit juice. Oh--and plenty of caffeine too, arguably the most important food group known to woman. In a world of poses, attitudes and designer statements, Silver Spur is downright refreshing. Unlike some of the voguing scenes in beach neighborhoods, this breakfast venue caters to folks who work in the area--Silver Spur is actually closed on Sunday. Here the menu glides easily from breakfast into lunch and serves up big, friendly plates from 6am right through to 3pm, Monday through Saturday.

I always like gazing at the daily specials list, posted high up on one wall, just under the wagon wheel and next to the air-brushed painting of two silver spurs. Last week Jack and I might have succumbed to a special of sun-dried tomato and sausage scramble for $8.50. We could have tried the apple walnut pancakes, a short stack running $5.75. But we didn't. We settled in with our mugs of java--thick mugs overlaid with a green "Silver Spur" logo and prancing green horses--and pretended to look at the menu. We already knew what we wanted. Everybody already knows what they want when they walk through the door and slide into a booth at this midcounty landmark. From its curved brick "dinette" counter to its well-worn captain's chairs--perfect for the full-figured captains who love this place--Silver Spur makes no pretenses. Eggs, bacon, pancakes, fruit, black beans, hot sauce--these morning favorites were part of our order. Silver Spur wisely stocks excellent fresh juices from Odwalla so Jack could start his day with a big glass of pink grapefruit juice ($2).

Arriving at Silver Spur immediately after our morning workout, we were beyond hungry. And what we saw and tasted more than measured up. Yes, indeed, this was worth a strenuous half-hour on the elliptical strider, you bet your booty. I craved pancakes. Pancakes were calling to me. But so were eggs. Not a problem, our alert server assured me. Have both--it's called a Short Stack Sandwich ($7.50), only I got the eggs and bacon on the side. That way each flavor direction--the sweet and the savory--was unadulterated, if you know what I mean. I asked for real maple syrup--you only go around once--and after being reminded that it would "cost extra," I went ahead and poured it all over the top of two pancakes the size of tricycle tires. Bigger! My eggs over medium were nothing but perfect, and the accompanying bacon was lean, crisp and tasty. Memories of watching some talking head on CNN warning me about mortgage meltdown faded clean away. The gym was history--I was in a nonvirtual domain of voluptuous juicy textures and bright sweet and salty flavors.

Jack had roamed farther south in his breakfast landscape, all the way to the Flying Sombrero ($8.50), and was busy inhaling a platter of scrambled eggs on soft corn tortillas topped with tomatoey salsa and loads of cheese. Black beans, shredded cabbage and a seriously ripe avocado surrounded the egg fiesta. This is his idea of post-treadmill reality, and he pretty much grinned his way through the entire lavish plateful.

Ah, but not all of it, because I did manage to sneak some black beans and salsa for myself. The pancakes were simply too large and thick--I'm a fan of the thin pancake, if you want to know the truth--for me to gain much traction on this splendid breakfast classic. But I did my best and then some. We didn't exactly waddle out of Silver Spur, but let's just say that this was not the morning for me to accept that "Dancing with the Stars" challenge. Don't know why, but once in a while nothing beats a full-on, two-fisted breakfast. Kinda justifies all that treadmill time, no?

Silver Spur

Address: 2650 Soquel Dr., Santa Cruz

Phone: 831.475.2725

Hours: Breakfast and lunch 6am-3pm, Mon-Sat; closed Sun

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