Or so says Lynne (a.k.a Queenie), the owner and chef at Queenie’s Roadhouse Cafe in Elk. This is the best breakfast around, in my opinion — an opinion shared by a lot of locals. This is the place where you’ll see the most innkeepers outside their
pens inns. As a recovering innkeeper, I have to say it’s wonderful when someone else fixes breakfast for you! Here’s what makes Queenie’s so consistently excellent:
1. Lynne / Queenie: Lynne sets the tone for the place. She is an excellent breakfast cook with great technique. More importantly, she is extremely consistent — something that carries a lot of weight in a small area.
2. The menu: Queenie’s focuses on breakfast foods mostly, but they also have a lot of lunch items, such as soups, a Salad Nicoise, and various sandwiches. But the strength of the place is the breadth and quality of the breakfasts. Lynne makes great pancakes (something I did for years on the griddle at my inn), and all of the egg dishes are great. Her Eggs Benedict is superb, sitting on top of homemade herbed biscuits.
3. Teddy: Teddy runs the front while Lynne is cooking in the back. She is an excellent waitress and manager.
4. The Atmosphere: a lot of locals hang out there, not just from Elk. Many people make the drive down from Mendocino, especially on Sunday for Eggs Benedict.
5. Good coffee: they serve good coffee, too. This is most important to me, as a coffee fanatic (I named my dog Peet, after all). I have personally drunk many gallons of it there (although my friend Higgins puts me to shame — he even browbeats waitresses into leaving the air pots at the table!).
6. The Drive: it’s about 20 miles down to Elk from Mendocino, and it’s a gorgeous drive. In that 20 miles, you pass the Spring Ranch / Chapman Point Preserve, Van Damme State Park, the new Navarro Point Preserve, the state beach at the mouth of the Navarro River, and the sweeping curves south from the Navarro to Elk. A couple of miles before you reach Elk, you pass what I consider to be the most beautiful turnout on the North Coast (see the picture in the MendoFun header). Across the street from Queenie’s, you’ll find Greenwood State Beach and some old gun emplacements from World War II.
7. The Drive, part 2: On the way back from Elk, you can actually drive inland for 3 miles on the Philo-Greenwood Road, and then head north on Chapman Road, which parallels Highway One from the top of the coastal ridges. This route takes you through a landscape zone called the Pygmy Forest, a fature unique to the Mendocino Coast.
All in all, the experience is good, the food is good, the drive is good. I don’t know if it’s good to be queen, but I do know that it’s a good thing there is a queen to serve us!