Ellie's Restaurant: Honest-to-goodness breakfast, lunch
To find Ellie's Restaurant, an extremely unpretentious breakfast-and-lunch joint in Smokey Point, you must make your way down a side street that's a corridor of decrepitude: a vacant gas station-mini mart barricaded by a temporary chain-link fence, an out-of-business auto repair shop, an empty field of scrubby grass and Scotch broom. It appears that the Great Recession has taken a toll here.
Happily, Ellie's, formerly known as Linda's, has endured.
Besides, you don't go to Smokey Point for the scenery, right?
Ellie's serves basic, satisfying fare in a houselike structure that, according to county records, was built in 1989 but looks as if it could date from the era when Smokey Point's business district consisted of a tavern, a seasonal fruit stand and the ruins of a restaurant that burned down in the 1950s.
With its inexpensive fluorescent light fixtures and walls clad in well-worn wooden boards, the rustic dining room reminded me of a downmarket fishing resort I once visited.
Patrons, all of them men during my visit, gathered around Formica-topped tables to talk shop. The snippets of conversation I overheard had something to do with the difficulties of getting rid of scrap building materials -- although I also caught several references to "the wife."
I chose a table next to a couple of retirement-age gentlemen quietly enjoying their breakfasts. A scan of the menu revealed all the expected breakfast options, including no fewer than 20 types of scrambles, blueberry pancakes flagged as a house favorite, and corned beef hash that, my server assured me, did not come out of a can. I wound up choosing one of the daily specials: Polish sausage with an egg, hash browns and toast ($6.99).
The butterflied sausage was tasty and nicely browned, but I was plenty hungry and should have asked for a second egg on the side. The hash browns were fine, too. There was no hint whatsoever of things like rancid grease or uncooked food that would signal incompetence or lack of care in the kitchen.
I was tempted to take away for a midday snack an order of Ellie's bread pudding with whiskey-apple sauce, one of the other daily specials on the board.
Ellie's is the sort of place where tradesmen and small-business owners can linger after breakfast to shoot the breeze and guzzle coffee -- being regular customers, they walk over to the coffee station to refill their mugs themselves. And they won't be pestered by some perky server's attempts to sell them an order of jalapeno shooters.
It's a place worth seeking out for an early breakfast before work, or maybe lunch if you're in the area and want to avoid the franchised fast-food fry pits.
And if you're inclined to eavesdrop, you might get the straight scoop on where to get a reasonably priced valve grind for an '82 Chevy 350.
Mark Carlson: 425-339-3457 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
3525 168th St. NE, Smokey Point; 360-658-0696
Specialty: Tried-and-true breakfast and lunch fare.
Hours: 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday
Price range: Inexpensive
Alcohol: None served
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