Los Gatos Cafe Continues to Surprise


Almost Every Time I’ve seen the Los Gatos Cafe Downtown mentioned in print or on the web over the last several years, it’s attached to the word “diner.” This is a bit annoying, and not just because the Los Gatos Cafe is one of the top spots for breakfast in the South Bay. “Diner” isn’t a bad word, and it doesn’t mean someone doesn’t like the food. But it does connote a certain quantity-over-quality approach, and that’s simply not what Los Gatos Cafe is about.

Quantity? These are big breakfasts, yes, but also creative breakfasts. The original Los Gatos Cafe on N. Santa Cruz Avenue—which was given the add-on “Downtown” to distinguish it from its “Uptown” sister spot after a new LGC opened in 2007 where the Iron Skillet used to be—has some of the most interesting approaches one can find to classic concepts. In their almost 25 years, they never seem to have gotten credit for thinking outside of the breakfast box. But for those who too often skip the so-called “most important meal of the day,” the promise of a hearty but unique meal is exactly the right kind of lure.

The innovative design begins with the menu. There are a lot of options, but they’ve avoided the scattershot, 80-page novella approach that can make ordering difficult at too many places. Los Gatos Cafe goes about matters in an entirely different fashion.

Clearly, what owners Robert and Tina Morcate had in mind when they opened the place in 1987 was “let’s take a few specialties and prepare them in as many ways as we can.” So the breakfast menu is neatly grouped into just four main groups, along with a few basic breakfast items. This had led to an interesting phenomenon: Some people will tell you that omelettes (of which there are 20 variations) are the cafe’s specialty. Others will swear it’s the waffles and pancakes (for which there are just as many options, if one includes the French toast selections).

I, however, am every bit as certain that the eggs Benedicts are what Los Gatos Cafe should be known for far and wide. Benedict lovers can be a surly bunch, it’s true, but mostly because we’re so misunderstood. Most breakfast places, for some reason, limit their selection to the single, traditional “eggs Benedict” dish. I am continually mystified—do they not understand that I am on the search for the perfect Hollandaise-sauce delivery system. At best, most places might have one or two ways for me to indulge this search without having to eat Canadian bacon.

Los Gatos Cafe, on the other hand, serves 12 different Benedicts. And that doesn’t even include my favorite of their variations, the “Black and Blue Benedict,” which pops up as a special with some regularity. It’s flank steak and blue cheese served with the poached eggs on the English muffin, and it’s incredible. But I have other favorites among the menu options: the Benedict Oscar is crab and tarragon with scrambled eggs and asparagus, sort of a Hollandaised version of the cafe’s popular crab cakes; they also serve the Florentine with spinach, Irish with corned beef hash and the Benedict Super constantly threatening to topple over with bacon, grilled tomato and avocado over its two poached eggs.

The key to all of these, of course, is the hollandaise sauce; LGC’s is savory and zesty, with just the right amount of lemon flavor (which, in my opinion, is not too much).

Other nondinerish details that might surprise a lot of people are the excellent and wide-ranging salads, part of a lunch menu that also features sandwiches and burgers. If that’s not low-calorie enough, there’s an actual low-calorie plate served with fresh fruit and cottage cheese. But many of the offerings are simply not as heavy as one might expect. If one opts for the towering cinnamon roll, as so many do, no help is in sight, but even the delicious homemade back bean chili has a lighter touch than one might think.

It’s one more way that Los Gatos Cafe surprises, as it continues to provide a fine mix of quantity and quality.

Los Gatos Cafe
340 N. Santa Cruz Ave., Los Gatos

Back to top