Carol’s Place

Breakfast burrito



**** (4 stars)

Carol’s is an old-fashioned diner, the kind you see in television shows from the 60s. The decor, food and service are exactly as you would expect. Many of the customers are regulars who are greeted by name. You can pretty much get anything they’ve got ingredients for. The preparations are straightforward and generous.

Carol’s Place
3421 S Orange Ave
Orlando, FL 32806
(407) 251-8860

Harold€’s Restaurant

***** (5 stars)

If there is a better omelette on the face of the planet, I have yet to find it. I’ve been going here for thirty years, and even through a change in ownership and expansion into the space next door, the omelettes have remained transcendental.

My favorite is the Special Omelette, which contains bacon, green chilis and sour cream. A mound of hash browns form the base, then come the ingredients, and then a fluffy egg disc the size of a frisbee. Ask for your hash browns well done for the ultimate omelette enjoyment experience.

Harold’s Restaurant
2440 E Thousand Oaks Blvd
Thousand Oaks, CA 91362
(805) 230-3147

Village Inn Winter Garden

***** (5 stars)

Wow. Service with a capital S! I’ve been to fine dining restaurants where I haven’t gotten this level of service.

I was always a fan of the Village Inn when they were in Florida in the 90s, and was sad to see them close most locations, so it’s nice to have them back.

This location had only been open a week when I went, and corporate management was still very hands-on, but it was clear that they were looking for extraordinary service personnel, and they found them. Everyone I encountered was extremely into their job.

The interior of the space is light and modern. I particularly liked the “technology bar” where I sat. I had the same thing I used to always have, a breakfast skillet, and it was prepared just the way I wanted.

Coupled with the attentive and friendly service, it was exactly what I’m looking for in a coffee shop breakfast, and I’ll definitely return.

Village Inn Winter Garden
3130 Daniels Rd
Winter Garden, FL 34787
(407) 654-0736

Golden Olympic Restaurant

**** (4 stars)

This IS you father’s diner. Or maybe your grandfather’s. In fact, he may still be eating here.

Golden Olympic is like stepping back into the fifties, in terms of ambiance, service and food. True, there are some Greek (and even a few Asian) items on the menu, but basically it’s a diner.

I went with the Greek theme, since there was a photo of Santorini on the wall, and had the Village Sandwich, which consisted of feta cheese, olives, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and onions with Tzatziki sauce, rolled in a pita.

Good choice. It was refreshing, tasty and yet light like a salad.

It came with a choice of sides, and to offset the healthfulness of the sandwich I chose onion rings.

Bad choice. They were the kind of onion rings you buy in the frozen food department and bake until they’re crunchy, except these hadn’t made it to crunchy.

Service was pleasant in a detached, 50s waitress kind of way.

This is the first restaurant I’ve been in for a decade that had an FM radio station playing. But it was music from the 70s, so I guess they’re going modern.

All in all a fun trip down memory lane, and a good spot for breakfast or a sandwich.

Golden Olympic Restaurant
1608 Chicago Ave
Evanston, IL 60201
(847) 328-1617

Prairie Joes

*** (3 stars)

Prairie Joe’s is all about ambiance. It’s got the stools at the bar, the tubular metal and vinyl booths, the formica tables. Basically, if you always wanted to eat in that diner from Back to the Future, this is it. Sadly, the food is also pretty authentic, which means no better than Denny’s but twice the price. But it’s definitely worth it for the experience.

Interestingly, while most people associate this kind of diner with breakfast, Prairie Joe’s is probably best for other meals, as their dinner items are much more creative, and during the hot months they always have homemade gazpacho. The place is also filled with original art, which is in a variety of eclectic styles. And the staff are genuinely glad to welcome you. A good place to check out before a shopping trip on the surrounding blocks of Central.

Prairie Joes
1921 Central St
Evanston, IL 60201
(847) 491-0391

Peach Valley Café

**** (4 stars)

It’s really hard to find good places for outside in Orlando, and this is a hidden gem. The large outside patio offers a quite, shaded environment for breakfast any time of day. But my favorites are their salads, particularly the ones with salmon or fruit ingredients. Light and refreshing.

Peach Valley Café
5072 Dr. Philips Blvd
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 522-2601