Breakfast is the hardest meal to do right. A few wrong turns and you end up on a fatty trip to Sweetsville where heart attacks hide down every alley way. A successful breakfast provider is one that is able to create a special meal in a way that the consumer enjoys it but doesn’t feel deathly afterwards. Of course, they also have to be able to offer the fatty and sugary stuff for those who want it. Not too healthy but not a Wafflehouse impersonator either. This is not easy to do.
Pinky’s Diner is a small, cozy, nook pressed into the side of a building in Palma Ceia. It comfortably fits about 10-15 tables and a bar. That’s why, when we arrived after the Gasparilla Race without reservations, we waited for more than an hour (it could’ve been worse, Datz was over two hours). Pinky’s was nice enough to offer water and Cuban Egg Sandwiches to the customers waiting in line. This scored them mad props with the two racers in our party who didn’t want to keel over and die before we were seated (I checked and a trip to the hospital was grounds for losing our spot in line). Pinky’s offers a few selections that are worthy of the health conscious. They are on the fruit, yogurt and granola bandwagon, have an oatmeal option (though with candied walnuts and brown sugar, sounds pretty sweet), include a couple veggie heavy fritattas and add four salads for the lunch rush (after 11:00). But their specialty is the fat and sweet and they do it pretty well.
SH, one of the runners, went fat and sweet with the stuffed french toast. This massive Cuban bread was layered with berry cream cheese and topped with fresh fruit and powdered sugar. It is the kind of thing that brings the dentist running and adds calories just by looking at it (thus I abstained from providing a picture). SH isn’t the type that usually finishes food. Anytime we eat out, my plate is empty and her’s looks like no one even touched it. Knowing this, I was surprised when I came up for air from my own meal that she had polished off the entire toast. I knew it must’ve been decent.
To start, I ordered a side of jalepeno grits:
The Jalapeno Grits
I expected something like the grits that always show up at our teacher gatherings. Chock full of butter and cheese. These certainly had their fair share of cheese but they weren’t overly buttery. I enjoyed them, though I expected a little more heat. I added Tabasco to give it an extra kick. For the main course I was contemplating the stuffed french toast, oatmeal pancakes, the pancake sandwich (with no ham) or the breakfast quesadilla. In the end I went with the quesadilla.
The Breakfast Quesadilla
The quesadilla features 2 over medium eggs (which meant they were slightly runny, something I don’t normally like), ham (which was removed), cheddar and provolone, lettuce and salsa on a tortilla. The tortillas perfectly sopped up the egg yolk and made it like I didn’t even notice they were there. The quesadilla, while exceptional, was outdone by the salsa. Fresh and not screaming with cilantro (the norm when it comes to homemade salsas) with vegetables that tasted right off the vine the salsa lingered long after everything else went away. I’m not sure if Pinky’s makes their own salsa, but whoever makes it does a fine job. I also took the liberties of sampling some of J-Fur’s rosemary home fries.
Rosemary Home Fries
These home fries are really what allows Pinky’s to shine brighter than your typical, corporate breakfast joint. Sure the quesadillas played a role and the small intimate setting and the meat filled eggs benedict that some of our friends ordered were also pretty savvy but the additon of rosemary to the home fries, a combo any cook knows is a winner, brought a unique spin to the breakfast plate. Fried to perfection, seasoned to perfection, these potatoes did not disappoint.
And neither did Pinky’s. Our waitress was awesome, she joked and talked despite having been slammed for the past few hours. My only critique, aside from possibly needing more healthy choices, is that the prices seemed a little high. Maybe it is the area of town. Maybe breakfast just costs more nowadays. Or maybe, if I really want to save a buck, I should go eat at a Wafflehouse and listen to waitresses tell tales of bulls with arrows sticking out of their head.
Pinky’s is located at 3203 West Bay to Bay Boulevard in Tampa.
Pinky’s demands something funky, something not afraid to walk up to the line of kitschy and spit on it before retreating to safer ground. That means two bands, two tracks. First is the new one from Carousel (here) “Where Have You Gone.” Equally addictive as its predecessor, this Carousel ride is magical:
The second band, Joywave, just put out their new album Koda Vista on Tuesday. To celebrate its release they dropped the synth-layered single “Who Do You Like.” It sounds like dressing a kid beneath a crystal chandelier in a dorky patriotic sweater and putting them on a horse to go to school. It sounds like Daryl. You can hear the whole album at their bandcamp page: