You know you’re in a good spot when a glass case of fruity and fluffy pies greets you at the front door and so does a friendly voice.
It gets better from there at Mukilteo’s Speedway Cafe.
The diner is my father-in-law Jim’s favorite place to eat. Every August when Jim, who is 84, visits from Ohio he starts each morning by saying, “Let’s go to that cafe for a waffle.”
Jim is a newly retired semi-truck driver (he drove a rig until he was 82), so he knows diners. He’s a waffle guy. Waffles with butter and syrup. Nothing fancy.
When he calls between visits he talks about the waffles at the Speedway Cafe. “That waffle place is still there, isn’t it?” he always says.
I think he comes for the waffles as much as the grandkids.
I couldn’t wait until August for Jim to go there.
The cafe sits next to Pizza Hut, across Mukilteo Speedway from the QFC. Inside is a river rock fireplace and ferry maritime decor. You can’t forget you’re in the Northwest, but you can forget your cares. Facing the window, I could see the blur of cars zipping by and packing the parking lot at QFC. I’d soon be one of those busy Saturday afternoon errand people, but for now I was living in the moment with a menu where everything looked good.
The cafe, which only serves breakfast and lunch, was hopping with people streaming in to plunk in booths. For booth lovers, there’s plenty of booths.
Service was prompt and courteous.
My husband got corned beef hash with biscuits and gravy ($9.99).
“They don’t buy the hash out of can. It’s real meat, cut apart,” he said. “The gravy was seasoned really well. It was creamy.”
He also got a short stack of pancakes ($4.99). He could have topped it with strawberry, blueberry, banana, triple fruit, pecan and lingonberry, but all he wanted was butter and syrup, like his dad.
My kids and I shared the strawberry waffle ($7.99) that was crowned with whipped cream and sliced fruit.
It was waffle-icious.
There were meatless egg dishes and salad options for my vegetarian daughter, who ordered grilled cheese ($6.99) and sweet potato fries (99 cents). The cheese was hot and gooey, just the way she likes it. The crispy fries were also a hit.
Overall, the menu has many choices, including a “Comfort Food” heading over chicken-fried steak and turkey-and-gravy.
It all looked comforting to me.
I went for the Popeye omelet ($9.99). It was a pretty yellow mound laced with bacon, mushrooms and, of course, spinach. Slices of fresh, bright-green avocado nestled on top. The inside was crunchy and creamy. I rarely order eggs because I don’t like that eggy texture but ate every bite of this. The avocado was a nice touch.
Avocado cream sauce blanketed my son’s potato burrito ($8.99), a flour-wrapped creation of scrambled eggs, baby reds, ground sausage, Tillamook cheddar, diced tomatoes and green onions. He’s generally a basic burrito guy but this combination sounded good so he tried it.
“I’ve never had anything like it,” he said. “It was a burrito that looked like a sandwich. A sandritto.”
It came with a dish of fresh fruit.
“The presentation is good,” my husband said of the dishes that covered our table.
He doesn’t usually talk like that.
According to the web site, Mukilteo’s Speedway Cafe is part of a string of cafes owned by a Washington family. The first cafe was born out a desire to find a good breakfast spot on the Eastside in the mid-1980s. Finding few choices, they purchased Emmilou’s in Redmond and reopened it as the Village Square Cafe in 1986 with a ’40s theme and menu focused on classic comfort food served by friendly staff. Next came Issaquah Cafe (1989), Woodinville Cafe (1995), Bothell’s Crystal Creek Cafe (2002), Mill Creek’s Saw Mill Cafe (2005), Mukilteo’s Speedway Cafe (2007) and Sammamish Cafe (2011).
A bakery in Crystal Creek Cafe supplies all the cafes with pies, cakes, bran muffins and cinnamon rolls.
The cinnamon rolls I saw in the glass case were the size of a loaf of bread.
I’ll be back in August, if not before.
Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @reporterbrown.
Mukilteo’s Speedway Cafe
11707 Mukilteo Speedway, Mukilteo; 425-347-2000; mukilteospeedway.cafesinc.com.
Hours: 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.