Carlos Country Kitchen

carlos.jpgIn my book, the perfect antidote to early morning activity (ie: a 3k “Fun” Run) has to be home fries and scrambled eggs. WIth a side of bacon and Diet Pepsi.

Now, before you go calling the food police, hear me out. Greasy spoon diners like Carlos’ Country Kitchen are like ice cream and D’Affinois: A sometimes treat when you’ve been very, very good. What could be better than huffing and puffing up a hill for charity at 8am on Sunday morning then rewarding yourself for all that hard work? And don’t say oatmeal.


For months now, BiteClubbers have been lauding the breakfast-time
merits of this red-checkered diner off College Avenue. Bordered by a
gas station, botanica and car-repair shops just past the 101
overpass, the neighborhood isn’t the most charming. There were some
health inspection issues that were corrected. But hey, it keeps out the
dilettantes and dabblers–though certainly not fans who pack the
parking lot ot overflow capacity.

You’ll either dig the
uncultivated low-brow vibe or you won’t. Booths are lumpy, service is
harried and brusque (but usually with a smile or two), the bacon is way
too salty and you may get a bit uncomfortable with waiting folks eyeing
your table hungrily.

It’s everything else that keeps people
coming back. Simple, straightforward fry-cookin’ that fills the belly.
BiteClub likes to keep it simple: Eggs, scrambled; homefries and toast.
Biscuits and gravy got a tentative thumbs up though they’re not nearly
as good as Bruno’s. Mickey Mouse pancakes always win a smile from the
tots. It’s also the personal touch of the owners who greet regulars by
name, watch over the kitchen and mingle through the dining area filling
glasses and inquiring about your meal.

The best breakfast
ever? Not by a mile. One of my favorite spots to spend a few minutes
catching up with my family over a pile of potatoes? You betcha.

Carlos Country Kitchen, 90 West College Ave., Santa Rosa,
CA
95401
(707) 569-9734

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Hank’s Creekside Diner
The Great Wine Country Breakfast Debate
Willow Wood

Author: biteclub

Food Dining and Restaurants in Sonoma County and beyond, BiteClubEats.com is Wine Country dining with Drive-Thru Sensibility.

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30 Comments

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  3. After hearing about this place for several years, I finally noticed where it was located the other morning. It had been a harried morning, over-scheduled and my cup of green tea and soy milk had worn off long before I pulled in…..

    Okay so Carlos’ is not what you would call “gourmet” by any means but I have to agree with my friends – for good, old fashioned down-home comfort food, it is The Bomb! I had eggs and sausage and could barely manage half of one of the gigantic pancakes they came with….nothing fancy but tasty and properly cooked….the coffee was really good – not excellent – but really good by diner standards…..and the tab – with my usual 20% tip for the terrific service – came in under $13….

    The late morning crowd included we working class folk, a couple of shirt and tie types, a dad and his four year old, three local letter-ed athletes, a table full of administrative assistant type gals, a single lady who probably manages some business nearby and one person whose weekly high light is probably a warm tummy-full at Carlos’ – very comfortable crowd, very welcoming staff.

    I say Go, but not on a morning when you want truffle oil or prosciutto…..

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  4. Thanks for an idea, you sparked at thought from a angle I hadn’t given thoguht to before . Now lets see if I can do something with it.

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  5. Thanks for taking the time to share your opinion. If more of us used your line of thinking, the world would be a better place.

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  6. Wow, thanks for sharing your perspective. I think I need to reconsider my position in light of your helpful comments.

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  7. It’s a little old truck stop in the part of town where people go to work, not stroll or to take in the scenery. You can figure that out without going in.
    If that’s not ok with you then you should drive on.
    If you can get past that then you may be one of the people who’s car fills the parking lot every day. The food is pretty standard for a roadhouse. Portions are quite generous. The owners are friendly. They’re part of the crew- Carlos cooking daily and his wife Karen works on the floor. They have a lot of regulars. One of those places they care enough to learn your name. Weekends can get a bit crazy. I think they could solve that by hiring some good bus help.
    Our family has enjoyed the good breakfast and friendly atmosphere at Carlos’ at least once a month since we moved to Santa Rosa almost three years ago.
    (We have 2 teen aged boys that eat a lot. It’s one of the few places we can afford to go and have a good breakfast) There are some harsh comments here. It makes me wonder if those folks really couldn’t tell they weren’t at the Hilton. How dare they judge people which they have no clue about! Referring to them(us) as “Lowlifes.” We are good decent hard working folks. It makes me question their judgment or credibility.

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  8. to each their own. i’ve been going to carlos’ since they took over from Azar’s. i’ve also been to most of the the other diners in santa rosa and the area and generally make ‘the rounds’. also anyone who calls diners “low lifes” is probably someone I wouldn’t want to dine with either. so i hope you don’t eat out around town as not to taint my dining experience. so please stay home. as to the food at carlos’ i would say they aren’t the best at everything they make, however i think they make the BEST bacon ANYWHERE! and i’ve had a lot of bacon. it’s neither too crunchy or too soft. they are also one of the few places that makes a regular waffle and not those steroidal belgian kind. so if i want bacon or a waffle it’s carlos’ without a doubt, if i want homefries it’s lita’s, benedict most likely hank’s. however none of those places are good at everything either.

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  9. I ate there about a month ago and found evrything in that place to be NASTY!!! The food wasn’t good at all and the people are not people I want to dine around. The waiter looked like she was on crack and the other people dinning there were no better. I didn’t eat much of the food because it was that bad. Then the waiter questioned me on how much I ate. I had to bite my tounge from not saying the it was the WORST food I have evr eatting.
    Went to the IHOP on 4th St. not that long ago and not the it was wonderful but it was 100% better the Carols. I even ate the food I paid for!

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  10. I used to work around the corner and ate there quite often. Never once did we get any meal that wasn’t top notch and worth the money. Carlos and his wife are good, good people. After 9/11 my boss and I needed comfort food and I remember calling Carlos and he suggested mashed potatos. He hit the nail on the head with that one. We had those for several months after. He knows his stuff. His soups can’t be beat either. Best corn chowder and clam chowder ever!

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  11. I see a lot of negative here so I figure I should balance it out a little! This place is my favorite breakfast spot to sit and read the paper(everybody should have one). Places like this are a dying breed and it’s a shame. It’s not the best food in the world, nor is it trying to be, but it’s a place that has a personality of it’s own. If it’s not quite right for you that’s fine, but clearly enough people enjoy it. It is a shame that this sunday will probably be extra packed but I will brave the angry bitecubblers nonetheless.

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  12. Dude, relax. No one said the owners are anything less than lovely. As a matter of fact, she was really very nice after her incredibly rude busboy yelled at my kid. I personally wouldn’t eat at Denny’s or IHop if you paid me a million, but I do know a decent homefry when I taste it and unfortunately, that wasn’t it. Clearly they have enough loyal and rabid fans such as yourself and these economic times won’t hurt them too much, but I calls it like I sees it, man. The place is no bueno……IN MY OPINION.

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  13. To all you people who talk shit about how gross and oily it is, F-OFF. The food is always cooked fresh right in front of you. They do not need people like you their anyways. Like someone else said, don’t talk shit about people you do not even know. Now myself, i like to eat their on a sat. or sun for a good feast!! You other people who say, i like the other places. Where is that? ( I-hop, denny’s) the fast foods of breakfast dinning!! If you people think you can do better open your own breakfast place and will see…

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  14. Carol IS a great guy! But even at that, I can’t eat that kind of food anymore. It really does play havoc with cholesterol and weight! If I want a “guilty pleasure” those coffee milkshakes & the old Buns ‘n Burgers on Old Redwood Hwy in Larkfield are the answer.
    You can also find some guilty pleasure breakfasts at Dierk’s Parkside too. But that’s really good stuff!

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  15. carlos’ is the bomb. and he is a good guy. if u found it full of low lifes maybe u think ur a little too good for the place. so stay the hell out of it !!

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  16. Biscuits and gravy substandard. As usual, “sausage gravy” was flavorless white sauce with a few bits of sausage thrown in. Is there any place for truly good b&gravy? Gravy that starts off with sausage renderings (ah, hear those arteries slamming shut) and has plenty of flavor? Not gummy white stuff?

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  17. I made an error in my post…I wrote “none of us were too disappointed with our breakfast” which makes it seem like we were disappointed, but not TOO disappointed. That wasn’t the case, I should have stated that more positively. We were all quite satisfied with our breakfasts. In fact, my stepson loved his chicken fried chicken with biscuits and gravy…and my fiance said his eggs were perfectly cooked. It’s standard diner fair, but it’s substantial and good, and the atmosphere is friendly and humble. I still prefer those other places, but I want to be fair about Carlos…

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  18. I went to Carlos Country Kitchen last Sunday after having read comments in previous Bite Club posts. I concur with Heather’s review for the most part, none of us were dtoo disappointed with our breakfast but it wasn’t stellar either – it was an enormous amount of food for sure. My hash browns were pretty good but they put WAY too much hollandaise sauce on my eggs benedict (the entire plate was covered with it). We probably won’t be back though – we prefer the Colibri Grill Cafe (you must go there!), Macs, and Deirk’s ParkSide in Santa Rosa.

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  19. I was just there last week. Told my friend what great food I was served about a year and a half ago. We ordered Chicken salad. The breast of chicken was flat and way overcooked. The lettuce for the salad was dry and old. I won’t be back…the regulars won’t have a hard time getting a table at this rate.

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  20. We tried to go there last year with our toddler and the place was packed. Figuring it must be good, we decided to wait….only to find out that unless you’re a regular, or “in” with the staff, you’re not gonna get a table. Weird place…and I like quirky weird but not this kind. We left without sitting down and won’t be back.

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  21. The negative comments are all true. You might want to try PAGES in the G & G shopping center right up the street. GREAT food, friendly atmosphere, clean. Nothing fancy, a greasy spoon without the grease! You’ll see the same smiling faces on the weekends. Pages Mom helps out on the weekend, she’s a delight! Try it for a great start to your day. Breakfast and lunch.

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  22. It’s a funny thing to recommend your favorite
    eatery to a mass audience only to show up to said
    eatery where its apparently already hard to get a
    table and have to wait twice as long because of
    your recommendation.

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  23. After reading all the votes in favor of this place over the great breakfast debate ’08, my husband and I added it to our list to try. We went on a Sunday morning with our little girl. It was very busy but we got a table fairly quickly. Typical Sunday morning crowd, bleary eyed, in sweats, staring into the abyss of their coffee cups pondering every mistake they made Saturday night. Good people watching for sure. The service was really slow, but understandable on a Sunday morning. Our waitress was kind of dim and brought our drinks one at a time with long intervals between each trip…strange. My little girl needed to use the bathroom which is in a tiny hallway next to the prep room/dishwasher area. As we waited in line, the unbelievably RUDE busser told us to get out of his way and mumbled insults in spanish…which I understood (it’s important to know how to insult people in other languages). I was livid. He actually scared my kid. The owner woman started to yell at him and the whole situation was so awkward. Once breakfast finally came….eggs benny for me, not homemade hollendaise as lauded by the owner (I make hollandaise…I know hollandaise) and the homefries were seriously the nastiest things I’ve ever seen. They looked like someone chewed up a boiled potato and spit it on to my plate. Against better judgment, I tasted…booooo. Old potatoes swimming in grease – I took one bite and deposited it into my napkin. When a kid won’t eat a Mickey Mouse pancake, you know something is amiss. My only expectation was halfway decent greasy spoon diner food…it didn’t measure up for me. People do love it though…go figure. Oh, and I’m still waiting for a refill on my soda.

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  24. I’ve heard about this place over the years so tried it out early the other morning. There were few folks there except for the police in the back dining room. I had an omelette that was inedible. The eggs tasted fried and not in a clean oil either, and when I cut into the omelette oil ran out. The bacon inside was flavorless, which was a mystery to me, and the tomatoes were OLD. They had been prepped days ago. Anyone who cooks knows what I mean. It was just plain gross. I agree the owners are a nice couple, generally very grateful to everyone who came in the door, but I will never go back. Also, I don’t generally enjoy listening to agressive talking in Spanish while I’m eating, which was the chef/owner talking to his assistant. I’d recommend any other place to eat.

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  25. Whoa! Some of you folks got mean all of a sudden. Jackie and Breakfast Guy- might I direct you to the fine ramblings of Mr. Jeff Cox? Will better suit your tastes. Never been to Carlos’ myself, but will try. I must say- I’m SO with you on the D’Affinois. Heaven!

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  26. How dare you call people LOW LIFES that YOU don’t even know.

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  27. I have been eating at Carlos’ for years with my family. It is a very freindly atmosphere and the food is DELICIOUS. you must appreciate a good hearty big breakfast to dine there

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  28. Yikes! The guy with the white shirt in the picture is a really turn-off for a restaurant!!

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  29. Hmmm…isn’t that what a good honest breakfast is? H
    “Heavy” “Greasy”

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  30. I found that place to be a filthy dive populated with low lifes. Food is heavy, greasy fare.

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