Sunday, December 5, 2010

Quick & Efficient at Cafe Express Austin

Trying to figure out where to take 2-11 year old girls to breakfast is always a lot of fun. Usually Mimosas and Frittatas aren't their thing. Let's face it. You think you're picky? No. They are. Throw in their sleep deprivation from 3 consecutive slumber parties and the anticipation of our day climb to Enchanted Rock. I'm thinking fast. Grab some cereal at the house and let's go! They're thinking let's do Breakfast In Austin! I know, scouring breakfast joints in this fabulous city is so cool that even 11 year olds want to be part of the experience.

I'd been wanting to stop by Cafe Express at 3418 N. Lamar, after it's grand opening in Austin over a month ago. A few friends on Facebook had indicated this place was a gem and that it'd be opening soon. With established locations in Houston & Dallas, a 20 year history and a fast-casual concept, I thought, sure...I'll add it to my ever growing list.

My daughter Sloan, her friend Sami and I pulled into the vacant Cafe Express parking lot last Monday at around 9:00 a.m. Breakfast is served from 7:00 to 11:00 a.m., so we arrived halfway through, presumably after the morning rush. Upon entry, I was clueless. There were nearly 100 empty tables, 4 were occupied and I didn't know whether to seat myself or wait for a hostess. No hostess. I approached the bar and met a friendly staff who instructed me and the girls to study the Cafe Express menu in written form or from their billboard above the ordering counter. Once we decided on our breakfast pleasures, we were asked to place our orders with the cashier, pay, seat ourselves and then wait for our hand held buzzer to ignite. Casual and efficient. Great for 11 year old girls.

Order up!

Sami quickly decided on a breakfast taco. Specifically? She requested their version of a morning taco with bacon, scrambled eggs and cheddar cheese in a flour tortilla, served with a chipotle salsa. Sami also opted for a side of skillet potatoes cooked with bacon and topped with cheddar cheese. Overall, this 11 year old wasn't too impressed with the taco. When Breakfast In Austin asked Sami to describe her eating experience, she offered that the breakfast taco lacked flavor and it wasn't anything special. Bummer! Luckily the skillet potato side was full of punch and semi-saved the meal. Priced affordably at $4.59.

Sloan, with the perpetual sweet tooth, opted for something a bit more carb-loaded and sugary. The Cafe Express French Quarter French Toast drenched in a rich cream, topped with sweet powdered sugar, fresh berries & glazed pecans caught her eye and eventual taste buds. It's presentation was absolutely amazing and along with the side of pecan praline syrup, undoubtedly the hit, right? Nope. Not for Sloan. The French Toast, unfortunately, was undercooked inside and literally mushy. Had it been cooked correctly, I'd recommend it 100 times over. The pecan praline syrup saved the plate, in Breakfast In Austin's humble opinion. Sami & I continued to sample Sloan's uneaten portions, dunking each bite into this crack-infused syrup. Mushy french toast? Sami & I didn't care. The chef who prepared that pecan praline drizzle deserves an award! Another well priced item at $5.49.

Breakfast In Austin was actually really satisfied with her choice, which was the Cafe Express Breakfast Sandwich with turkey ham, scrambled eggs on cheddar cheese with buttered ciabatta bread. Additionally, this very tasty yet simple Breakfast Sandwich was served with a side of skillet potatoes prepared with bacon and cheddar cheese. The ingredients were fresh, well paired and the bread was impressively soft. The side of potatoes were amazingly zesty and left me with a similar impression to that of the pecan praline syrup. Another gem created by a pretty great chef. Priced under $6, this dish was an overall hit.

With a casual, yet efficient approach there are sure to be hits & misses at Cafe Express. Their items incorporating all meals are too many to count, so I imagine most diners will find something of value here. Breakfast In Austin was satisfied with her morning experience and welcomes Cafe Express to the community. The picky 11 year olds? I think they were just happy to be fed.

It's all about the feast, not the famine!

To learn more about Cafe Express, visit
To view the Cafe Express Breakfast menu, go to:

Pros: Modern atmosphere, quick service, great location, outdoor seating, the skillet potatoes with bacon & cheddar cheese side and the pecan praline syrup served with the french toast were both out of this world, interesting menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner
Cons: Sterile, confusing for a 1st timer - do I seat myself or wait for a hostess? French toast was mushy on the inside, breakfast taco wasn't great - lacked kick and flavor according to an 11 year old
Suggestions: Double check food before it's served, add more details about your Austin location to the website! There's just a quick disclaimer of a new location. We need more information!

Cafe Express ~ 3418 N. Lamar, Austin, TX 78705 ~ 512.452.9888

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