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Photograph by Curtis Cartier
Party on The Patio: Chef Jimmy Gorman, left, and restaurant proprietor Ed Hoffman live large on Hoffman's outdoor dining area on Pacific.

A Better Breakfast

At Hoffman's the day begins with well-made dishes that give breakfast a good name.

By Christina Waters

POTATOES at breakfast are usually gratuitous, a starchy way of filling up the plate, a carbo-charged afterthought. The potatoes at Hoffman's are worth eating right down to the last bite. We discovered this happy fact, and more, last week at a post-workout breakfast that left us full and satisfied.

Some people are just fine with an omelette, but my idea of breakfast wanders into schizophrenic territory. I always want pancakes. But I also always want eggs done the way I love them--over medium. The answer is Hoffman's Two by Two, which provides two buttermilk pancakes, two eggs and two pieces of bacon. All the food groups for $9.

Hoffman's showcases tempting European pastries in its long glass-front counters. But lots of locals flock to the spacious, upholstered booths for breakfast gatherings. The sunny yellow walls, high ceilings and beautifully framed mirrors all add specific terroir that's missing from the growing glut of generic dining places threatening authentic local color.

As we sipped our Café Americanos ($2) and waited for our breakfast plates, we checked out the Hoffman's Happy Hour placard at the table. Hmm, this looks interesting, we thought. Crab cakes for $6. Steak quesadilla for $4. Pilsner Urquell for $2.50? All of that and more on weekdays from 5 to 6pm? Not bad.

Jack's Spanish omelette ($9) was abundant without being scary huge. The freshly made three-egg omelette--filled with green chiles, black olives and Jack cheese (no, that's not why he ordered it)--held down the center of the plate, with salsas along one side and the golden-hued home fries on the other. A quartet of whole wheat toast triangles perched along the potatoes. He especially liked the salsa that tasted like a piquant tomato and cilantro jam. There were perhaps a few too many olives, but Jack just removed a few and continued to enjoy. My fork agreed. This was an omelette worth eating, rather than just a concept surrounded by a yellow haze.

My pancakes brought me true restaurant breakfast joy. Full of flavor and firm while still being moist, these pancakes were miles away from those airy balloons one gets at certain pancake chains. They were served, let me add, with a substantial scoop of butter. Enough butter, rather than the predictably "too little butter."

As for the eggs, they were perfect. Too often I receive something that is just a nano past "over easy." Or worse--hard as a rock. At Hoffman's, "over medium" means just that. The eggs were firm, they had their own emerging identity and yet they were still pliant and viscous. Fabulous. Especially with one of Jack's potatoes dipped into the yolk. The bacon was intensely bacony, lean and crisp. In short, our breakfast at Hoffman's was exactly what breakfast should be. The sweet and the salty, the pliant and the crisp. Excellent coffee and swift service--thank you, Hoffman's.


Address: 1102 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz

Phone: 831.420.0135

Hours: Breakfast weekdays 8-11:30am;
Lunch 11:30-5pm; Brunch Sat-Sun, 8am-2pm
Dinner nightly 5pm-close

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