Carla's Country Kitchen in Morro Bay

A menu filled with traditional breakfast and lunch favorites has been a recipe for success at Carla’s Country Kitchen

ktbudge@sbcglobal.netJanuary 11, 2012 

  • Carla's Country Kitchen

    213 Beach St. (just up from the Embarcadero), Morro Bay | 772-9051

    Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily; this weekend, Jan. 13-15, Carla's will open at 5:30 a.m. to accommodate attendees of the Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival, but the general public is welcome as well.

    The scene: A cozy, casual restaurant with a neighborhood vibe and strong regular following.

    The cuisine: Hearty, from-scratch, comfort food for breakfast and lunch.

    Expect to spend: Almost all dishes easily under $10

Carla’s Country Kitchen promises “Great ‘Down Home’ Cooking,” and it definitely delivers on its claim.

Owner Carla Borchard opened the convivial Morro Bay eatery in 1987. At the time, she was a few years away from wrapping up a career as a city firefighter, and several years into starting a family.

From the outset, her goal was to offer a casual place where customers felt comfortable and where they could get hearty portions of made-from-scratch fare.

Now beginning her 25th year on Beach Street, she’s happy to admit “that in all honesty, not much has changed. A lot of the same staff is even still here, and it’s a great team. We kind of take the ‘if it’s not broken, don’t fix it’ approach, and we’re still making everything we can here, with the exception of baking our own bread.”

Indeed, though there have been some additions to the menu over the years, regular customers of Carla’s can continue to find all their time-honored favorites for either breakfast (served all day) or lunch.

Borchard noted, for example, that the most popular dish over the years is still the “Pooney Scramble” (named after a longtime family friend who came up with it) that’s packed with spinach, bacon, mushrooms and three cheeses.

The rest of the egg-centric breakfast menu shells out everything from scrambles, to omelettes, to customary meat-and-eggs combos.

Crack into a Mediterranean scramble with artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes, a Mexican omelette with chili beans and Ortega chilies, or eggs served with a ham steak that’s almost bigger then the plate. All come with crispy country potatoes and your choice of toast, and freshly baked muffins or biscuits (and yes, you can tell they’re from scratch).

Of course, you can order up a serving of those biscuits with housemade gravy, or opt for a platter with a waffle (the old-fashioned kind, not Belgian) with an egg and either bacon or sausage.

Other items include a breakfast burrito with potatoes and cheese, a bacon-and-egg sandwich, and blueberry or banana pancakes.

After 11 o’clock, Carla’s lunchtime lineup joins the menu, and most items are served with sides of soup or salad, fries or mashed potatoes, etc. This is not a place you leave still feeling hungry.

Go for a pastrami sandwich or a Baja burger with green chilies, a grilled meatloaf sandwich or a southwest chicken ranch salad, a tuna melt or a hot lunch of country-fried steak.

Daily soups such as chicken tortilla, clam chowder, and black bean and sausage are always available as well. The particular flavor “depends on our whim for the day, or the season,” said Borchard, and the same approach goes for daily specials like a Cajun sausage omelette, a chicken club sandwich, or pumpkin streusel muffins.

Borchard also makes a concerted effort to support the community that supports her. One example stems from her ongoing work with local 4H programs; each year she buys several 4H hogs from the Mid-State Fair, has them processed at J&R Meats in Paso Robles, and serves the homegrown pork at Carla’s.

“It’s really fun to help support the youth organizations and the local businesses,” said Borchard. “We’ve been lucky enough to develop a huge local following over the years, and I’m lucky too — I still love what I do here.”

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