The Best Breakfast Cafe
5141 Saviers Road

With a name like Best Breakfast Cafe, you’re kind of throwing the dice. You can’t be merely good; mediocre food that might pass at any other restaurant is going to seem like a letdown. And if the food is bad, well . . . the jokes (and unflattering Yelp reviews) write themselves. A lot is going to be riding on that first impression.

Oxnard’s Best Breakfast Cafe, formerly the home of Uncle Herb’s Restaurant, has managed to beat the odds. It may not be the superlative the moniker implies, but it comes close enough that anyone who dines here will feel it lives up to its name.

This tried-and-true diner has been a local favorite for years. Hungry patrons line up every weekend, patiently waiting for a seat. Some mornings, the servers will take the sting out of that holdup by passing out free coffee and pastries to those in the queue. A busy cafe is also a good omen, so our hopes were raised when our party of four joined the crowd hanging out at prime brunch time on a Sunday.

The cafe has an old-school charm: big, comfortable vinyl booths, a long counter, cheerful signage and a cozy atmosphere. And while getting here seems like a bit of a hike for those who don’t live in the heart of Oxnard — it’s located pretty far out on Saviers Road — the large sign painted on the side of the building will let you know you’re in the right place.

Before too long, a busy, bustling but friendly server ushered us to our seats, and hot coffee and water came almost immediately after. I was impressed by the size and diversity of the menu. There’s quite a bit to take in: over a dozen omelets, several pancake and waffle options, red and green chilaquiles and more, not to mention the daily specials or the numerous burgers, sandwiches and salads offered for lunch. The mix of breakfast favorites and Mexican specialties is right at home in Oxnard.

On my waitress’s recommendation, I ordered the chile verde and eggs, considered something of a specialty of the house. “Tangy and fresh” are the words that first came to mind: a nice citrusy flavor from the tomatillos and tomatoes. Large hunks of pork shoulder were simmered to perfection in the green, flavorful sauce, and the result was tender and delicious. Served with hash browns, refried beans and tortillas, it was plenty filling — and the leftovers made for a great lunch the following day.

My husband branched out of his steak-and-eggs habit to try a traditional eggs Benedict. Most come with Canadian bacon; Best Breakfast Cafe serves it with nice, thick slabs of smoked ham steak. Paired with perfectly poached eggs and a tasty, lemony hollandaise (which the chef did not skimp on; it might be wise to ask for this on the side), he enjoyed a more-than-respectable version of a breakfast classic. A serving of house potatoes, grilled up with onions and peppers, may have been overkill, but it’s hard to complain about an embarrassment of riches.

Craving carbs? Go for it — the griddle items are just as good. Props to the pancake list, which includes multigrain, strawberry, blueberry, banana nut and chocolate chip options, and just as many waffle combinations. Is it any surprise that a diner in Oxnard would have wonderful strawberry pancakes? Get them while they’re still in season! The French toast was thick and chewy with fantastic cinnamon and vanilla flavor. The kids are the family’s official griddle-cake testers, and both gave their food two thumbs up. A quick shout-out to the hot chocolate, which was very tempting, with a big dollop of whipped cream and little chocolate chips on top. If you like a sweet breakfast, Best Breakfast Cafe knows the way to your heart.

All things considered, I’d give Best Breakfast Cafe a solid A: very good food, fast and friendly service, a comfortable atmosphere and lots of options. Best breakfast ever? Hard to say; there are a lot of good restaurants in the area, and I have my particular favorites. But I’d argue that the shoe fits pretty good.