Waypoint Cafe
325 Durley Ave.
$5.25- $9.75

You gotta love discovering a whole new subculture — whether it’s people who collect old tractors, dog enthusiasts who gather every Saturday at the park, or recreational pilots who lunch amidst their weekend travels. The latter, I recently discovered, is a group that really eats well. And one of their culinary stops is the Waypoint Cafe at the Camarillo Airport. Presumably built for these casual weekend travelers, it’s also a great place for the rest of us. Whether you sit inside or out on the patio, the Waypoint gives diners a front-row seat to view planes and helicopters coming and going.

We went late one Sunday morning, and the restaurant was busy enough to have a wait.  Now, normally when I’m out to eat with my kids, the thought of a 20-minute wait makes me break out in a cold sweat. But not so at the Waypoint, where there was plenty to do to pass the time. We helped ourselves to free coffee, looked at the old photos of airplanes adorning the walls, and went outside for a close-up of all the colorful planes. 

The service was impeccable — courteous, prompt and kid-friendly. Our server brought crayons, paper and a set of dog-tags for each of my boys. Their eyes lit up, and they thanked her as though she was some summertime Santa with blond hair, and we counted our blessings that they would be well-entertained while we browsed the menu.

Breakfast is served all day, mouth-watering offerings like a tri-tip omelet with green chilies, crispy brown Belgian waffles, chicken-fried steak with eggs, and old-fashioned organic oatmeal. Though we looked longingly at these dishes as they marched by, we opted for the lunch menu, full of sandwiches, burgers and salads.

Since I’m a firm believer that on rare occasions ice cream makes a perfectly good appetizer, we started with the Milky Way milkshake. Made from vanilla ice cream, Ghirardelli chocolate, caramel sauce and malt powder, it was perfectly thick, cold and creamy. The smiles on the kids’ faces as they sipped the shake and squealed about airplanes were priceless. And for me, I was feeling like a kid again, sipping a giant ice-cream treat and basking in the freedom of summertime.
Opting to share a bunch of dishes, we ordered the barbecue chicken sandwich, built with two grand slices of bread, grilled chicken breast, gooey melted jack cheese and a sweet and smoky barbecue sauce. The bread is what makes this sandwich — a fluffy, homemade sourdough with crunchy cornmeal in the crust. It is cut more than an inch thick, buttered excessively (and I mean that in the most adoring way), and grilled until the butter seeps inside and the cheese melts.

The blue cheese bacon burger was equally impressive, complete with fresh arugula and caramelized onions. The onion rings that sat in its shadow were tender and easy to bite, and the coating was crispy and light — not your typical beer batter, but dipped in panko bread crumbs before frying.

The Cobb salad was my weak attempt at adding something healthy to offset the milkshake starter, but really good nonetheless. Crisp greens were mounded with grilled chicken, bacon, blue cheese, tomato, avocado and egg — offering plenty of salty and tangy goodies in every bite. Now let’s talk for a minute about the bacon. Normally, we think of bacon as being pretty foolproof — just put it in a hot pan and fry it. But when you eat bacon like the bacon at the Waypoint, you realize that not all bacon is the same, and there is an art to cooking it just right. Salty, crisp and firm to the bite, not too soft and not too hard, brown but not blackened, the bacon in the salad and on the burger sets the bar a bit higher for all bacon fryers out there.

And as a shout-out to all of us who dine with kids on a regular basis, we simply couldn’t resist ordering a good old grilled cheese with french fries. And what came to our table?  Yet another buttery grilled sandwich on the delicious bread — but this time it was wrapped around a thick and happy melted cheese duo of cheddar and swiss. The french fries — thin cut, crispy and dusted with chopped parsley — were humble with an air of pomme frites. Yet all of this gourmet talk and above par preparation was completely lost on my 3-year-old, who simply dived into his lunch with gusto.

Whether you arrive by plane or by car, the Waypoint is a great destination if you’re looking for a change of scenery, a tasty meal and/or a fun outing with your kids. The excellent food and service catapult this restaurant into must-see status. In the words of my excited 5-year-old, “This is an incredible restaurant”; and I would have to echo his sentiment.