The awakening, rejuvenating smell of coffee in a mug that fits perfectly in your hand. The crunch as you take the first bite of a perfectly cooked waffle. The clatter of a fork hitting the plate, knowing your belly is full and you are ready to start the day but grateful for this brief moment to share a meal.
All of these are just part of breakfast’s enticing appeal.
But like most people who work full-time jobs, the meal is often forgotten or replaced with a yogurt or pastry on the go. The moment to enjoy food, and even more importantly, slow down life for a while is lost.
So Lodi Living Editor Lauren Nelson and City Hall reporter Maggie Creamer decided to reclaim breakfast. Eight weeks. Eight of the best diners in Lodi. Eight meals shared.
Because we both workout before the sun rises three days a week, our mornings can often feel rushed, and adding breakfast to the routine was a challenge.
But the days when time was tight and we were stressed turned out to be the days that we needed to do this the most. They were the days where recapping funny stories about boys, discussing difficult struggles in our lives or simply taking enough Instagram pictures to fuel our addiction for a few hours turned out to be the highlight for the whole day — all before 9 a.m.
So while we refound the joys of breakfast, we also reclaimed that balance everyone needs: the ability to stop, eat and enjoy an experience often forgotten.
Notes from the breakfast table
The ambiance: The 1950s diner transports you back in time with an “I Love Lucy” Vitameatavegamin sign and a retro juke box.
Oh, conversation: Breakfast gab is always the best. On this day, the conversation went from Elvis (old TV shows were being aired) to their homemade cinnamon rolls.
The best: Hollywood Cafe offers options, from syrupy and flavorful to gluten-free and low-cal.
The ambiance: Donna Summer was on the speakers singing “Last Dance,” which got us singing too early in the morning.
The people: Dianna poured our coffee continuously and made sure we had the vanilla-flavored creamer instead of the plain.
The best: They have the best classics, whether it is signage, memorabilia or wrap-around booths.
Village Coffee Shop
All that jam: Village makes all of their rich, decadent jam — from apricot to blackberry — from scratch.
The ambiance: Walking into Village Coffee Shop makes you feel like you’re in your grandma’s kitchen, sitting with all the close neighbors on the block.
The best: Aside from the jam, their country potatoes shouldn’t be left off any plate.
Velvet Grill & Creamery
The dish: Weekday specials, served any style with must-have bacon.
Oh, conversation: We reminisced about the boy from Mexico City and how it could have worked if we spoke the same language, he lived in the United States and he didn’t get strangely weird.
“But he was really nice — at first.”
The best: The waffles. With the special, you get a half of a waffle, which is the perfect size before 9 a.m.
The Omelet House
The dish: The biggest variety of breakfast: omelets, breakfast burritos, and pancakes and waffles.
Oh, conversation: We tested our knowledge of facts with their interactive trivia card, and then discussed the crazy, hectic long day awaiting us after the last bite.
The best: All the toppings! You can get any type of omelet you want.
Country Cafe in Lockeford
The dish: From stacks of pancakes to stuffed omelets, this is Lockeford’s breakfast haven.
The ambiance: Enjoy your breakfast while seeing local cowboys chowdown.
The best: Coffee that just kept coming, and bacon that was perfectly crispy.
Denis’ Country Kitchen
The ambiance: From purple flowers on the table to the multi-colored chairs, this tucked-away place is homey.
Oh, conversation: We reminisced about Dillon Beach, how Lauren’s dad should win the lottery and buy a camper there or how Lauren should find some money to buy one of the million dollar homes. We talked about how beautiful it is there.
The best: The fresh, seasonal fruit salad is delightful. And the breakfast for slight-appetites is perfect when you’re hungry but not ravenous.
The Avenue Grill
The ambiance: It’s always fun to sit outside at the big, wood picnic tables.
Oh, conversation: We studied the two men at the counter, who were obviously going hunting, and speculated on what we imagined their day would be like.
The best: The Potato Platter is famous for a reason.