Since I've been back in the Burlington, VT area, I've already been back to my favorite breakfast joint twice. For me to review a breakfast restaurant is kind of a big deal because I'm not big on American style style breakfast (you know, comfort food like eggs, bacon, toast, pancakes etc.) When I moved to Korea I kind of gave up on it completely, happily replacing it with kimchi jjigae, doenjang jjigae or just plain yogurt and cereal (And for the longest time I thought it was totally normal to eat jjigae for breakfast until I realized that even my Korean students were disgusted by eating something so spicy for breakfast... it's just me and my boyfriend that like jjigae for breakfast). But, I can say that Penny Cluse Cafe is one of my favorite breakfast places because they don't serve just your typical American breakfast. They've done a few awesome things that you rarely see outside of Vermont. They pride themselves on their organic and local ingredients. They take various styles (Southwestern, Asian, traditional, organic) and make a fusion that is all their own. Not only that, but it's vegan, vegetarian and meat-lover friendly. I can go to Penny Cluse Cafe and know that I'm not going to get a typical, dripping in grease breakfast but something that I feel good about eating.
They've got a good menu that's not too long, not too short, but it's always important to remember to check the specials board because they've got lots of good stuff up there which is always changing. Here are the photos of my food from my last two visits.
Breakfast burrito ($9.75) ~ 3 scrambled eggs with choice of cheddar, jack, feta or Swiss cheese in a flour tortilla — served with black beans, salsa & sour cream. You may start to notice that black beans are a reoccurring theme here... but only if you get the southwestern style dishes. If you're not into that, they've got plenty of other stuff here for you, too.
Huevos Verdes (Spanish for "Green Eggs") ~ Eggs topped in guacamole with black beans and tortillas. Personally, I would recommend getting the tortillas on the side so that they don't get soaked by the beans... not sure how other people eat this dish, but if I get tortillas, I want to put stuff in them and eat it like a taco and not get covered with black beans. (My only complaint about this restaurant)
Mama Cruz’s Huevos Rancheros ($10.25) ~ 2 eggs any style served on corn tortillas with jack cheese, salsa ranchero & black beans. My old favorite, used to be the only thing I ever ordered here when I actually lived around here. Again, same tip as above for the Huevos Verdes... ask for the tortillas on the side to avoid getting them completely doused in beans and salsa.
Tofu Scram ($9) ~ Choice of pesto, peanut-ginger or salsa ranchero - served with home fries, choice of toast, biscuts, corn muffins or grilled baguette. I was kind of confused about what this would be when I saw it on the menu as it's "just tofu". Fortunately, the peanut-ginger sauce was so good that every bite made me a little tingly inside. This is definately my new favorite. I also added tomatoes and basil on top for an extra 0.50 cents each to give the tofu a little umph.
I love the ambiance of this restaurant too, the hardwood floors and pale yellow walls make you feel like you're in some one's farmhouse kitchen (surrounded by 50 other people).
If you're planning on going for the first time, be aware, this is one of the most popular breakfast places in Burlington, so go early on weekends! An hour wait for breakfast here is normal! We were really lucky both times we went and got seats right away. First time because we got there at 8:30 am and second time because we were willing to sit at the bar so we got shortlisted even though there was a 25 min waiting list at 9:30 am.
Penny Cluse Café
169 Cherry Street
PO Box 8422
Burlington, VT 05402