Hungry for breakfast? Walla Walla offers many options for my favorite meal, from fancy to homestyle.
When I was a child, my family and I would go to Perkins Pancake House, now Clarette’s, near Whitman College. There I would order a Li’l Cowpoke. Today my family and I still love Clarette’s for the friendly service, solid breakfasts and comfortable atmosphere. My children don’t get to order a Li’l Cowpoke, but the ultra-sweet smiley-face pancake seems to be a good substitute.
A block down Touchet Street is a more recent addition to the breakfast scene, Bacon & Eggs, where one can get away with ordering fancy adult beverages. Ordering a mimosa or greyhound at 10 in the morning makes anything a special occasion! The food is creative and healthy and the renovated former gas station is crisp and modern.
The Maple Counter Cafe has become a wildly popular restaurant. Maple Counter has delicious food and a very comfortable and friendly atmosphere. The pancakes are huge and delicious, so if you don’t mind the typical wait for a table, arrive hungry.
Walla Walla may have a fancy veneer, but we can’t forget our humble origins. For tasty food and generous portions, Tommy’s Dutch Lunch is a sure bet. Don’t judge this gem by its appearance! The location on West Pine Street may be modest, but the food is amazing and the service top-notch. At Tommy’s you can enjoy large portions and great selection while surrounded by true Walla Wallans.
As an added bonus, the power station directly behind Tommy’s provides electricity even during the roughest power failure. When we had that terrible wind storm a few years ago, the power was out all over town. Tommy’s, however, was like a beacon — the only place for miles that was open and lit. My mom and I ended up there, sitting at a table full of strangers, all of us taking refuge from the storm.
Mr. Ed’s is another longtime local favorite. The booths and bustling environment are fun and the food is dependable and tasty. When I was a kid the booths each had a phone for ordering — and for youngsters to play with until their parents got annoyed. Many years ago, Mr. Ed's had outside ordering with waitresses who would bring the food right to the window, like something out of “American Graffiti.”
Merchants, now Olive Marketplace and Cafe, was a good mixture of fancy and humble. I miss the servers from Merchants yelling out a card number to find customers, but the elegance of Olive makes up for it. When I was a child we would go to Merchants for bagels and cream cheese, and when I got older it was a haven for coffee drinkers — a 75 cent cup of bottomless coffee was a great deal.
My favorite breakfast item to order at Merchants was the Bear Claw pastry: A flaky crust surrounding dates and nuts and drizzled with white icing. Mmmmmm. I really miss those. The Colville Street Patisserie now has comparable treats, so I appease myself with those, especially the Indian-style pastries.
Breakfast is a special treat. We are fortunate in Walla Walla because we have so many places to choose from. Whatever your next breakfast venture, if it’s in Walla Walla, it’s sure to be delicious.
Sara Van Donge is a Walla Walla native and middle school dual language teacher. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.