Readers' Choice Breakfast Spots Serve History, Great Food, Panoramic View

Oaks Grille, Kountry Kitchen and Ramona Cafe offer decades of coffee klatches, a golf course panorama or 1/2 pound cinnamon rolls.

Main Street in downtown Ramona is known for its homestyle eateries, some of which reflect the hard-working, early bird environment of this historical Western town.

Men, in particular, know if they want to catch up on the local chat, network with the guys and eat like a horse before starting their day, they can head to for a belly-busting "kitchen sink" skillet, or one of the town's old favorites, the chicken liver omelette at .

Alternatively, in San Diego Country Estates, people can start their day with a serene view of the golf greens, from at San Vicente Golf Resort.

For their hearty and memorable breakfasts, their service going back to the 1920s and '30s in some cases and the fabulous golf panorama, these three eateries tied as winners in the Ramona Patch .

"Local and fresh" describe Executive Chef Ben Peterson's creations at Oaks Grille. Born and raised in Ramona, Peterson values working with Ramona producers and creating his dishes "from scratch" rather than using anything pre-prepared.

"We buy our eggs from Eben-Haezer Poultry Ranch and our vegetables and fruit from Connelly Gardens," he said. "All our potatoes are fresh, not frozen, and we make our own sauces.

The vege luscious omelette is a favorite at Oaks Grille, said marketing coordinator Janice Baldridge.

"Chef Ben creates with flavor but with your health in mind," she said.

The restaurant also offers brunch every Saturday and Sunday. Mimosas or champagne are included with omelettes made to order, an array of meats, a variety of potato dishes, fresh fruit and vegetables.

Meanwhile, in downtown Ramona, our other Readers' Choice winners whip up meals fit for the cowboys and farmers who have worked this terrain over the decades. The overall menus aren't the average fare. Kountry Kitchen is home to the buffalo burger, for example, and Ramona Cafe was once known as the buffalo diner.

Chicken livers are a breakfast favorite at Kountry Kitchen.

"When we bought this place in August 2010, a local business person said to me, 'You're not going to get rid of the chicken liver omelette are you?'" co-owner Theresa Adams said, with a chuckle. "That's been on the menu for years."

A sign outside Kountry Kitchen states the establishment has been in business since 1939.

"We've got a customer whose grandfather comes in here and she remembers coming in with her dad," Adams said. "We're sort of multi-generational here. A lot of people come in every morning, sometimes just for coffee, sometimes for breakfast. They've got their favorite mugs, favorite tables. Mainly the men come in to do networking. We've got the neatest customers. I just love hearing the old stories."

Theresa's husband, Mike Adams, is co-owner.

Sonja Steiner, owner of Ramona Cafe, has a letter written in 1926 by the owner to someone wanting work there. It isn't framed on the wall because it's so precious, she said. But you'll find a lot of other images displaying the ranching culture of the area.

The restaurant helped put Ramona on the map for out-of-towners when Food Network's Guy Fieri did a Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives show including the cafe's 1/2 pound cinnamon rolls.

"They're at least that!" said manager Bonnie Kildare, who makes them. Kildare has worked at the cafe for 25 years. "I'm chief cook and bottle washer," she said with a laugh. "I do a bit of everything."

These Readers' Choice winners aren't known for skimpy servings. It could be a male initiation rite to completely consume one of the "kitchen sink" skillets.

"It comes with onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, ham, mushrooms, bacon, garlic, potatoes, sausage gravy, two cheeses and two eggs on top," Kildare said, without taking a breath.

Customers had better take a breath before trying the "Plow Boy" with similar fixings.

"It's huge!" Kildare declared.

Chicken fried steak and chorizo scramble are other favorites, she said.

Ramona Cafe began at its current location then closed for a while and moved before re-establishing again at its original spot in the 1980s.

Do you know some of the history of these eateries? You can share it with our readers in the comments section.

Chris Jennewein April 05, 2012 at 01:25 AM
I can't think of three better places for breakfast. It's hard to choose between the omelettes at Kountry Kitchen, cinnamon rolls at Ramona Cafe and awesome view at the Oaks Grille.


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