One of the only things I dislike about summer is that the perfect weather outside makes me embarrassed to hang out at the Red Hut Café all-day long, for all three meals. I mean, when there is a blizzard in full force it just makes sense to hunker down in their cozy booths, nurse a whipped cream-laden hot cocoa and read the lunch menu while enjoying an ample breakfast. This is what “snowed in” is all about. Fortunately, with three locations in the Lake Tahoe area, I can have breakfast at one Red Hut, grab a lunch to go and then make it to the next Red Hut without anyone being the wiser.
At the Red Hut I am greeted with the warmth extended to an old friend, a “regular,” and this has been the case since my inaugural visit. From the get-go my waitress has called me “honey.” I like it. Typically I start my day with the Waffle Sandwich, which consists of one big waffle, an egg (I go with fried) and two pieces of bacon or sausage. For an extra buck I sometimes add bananas or strawberries, but I consider myself a Waffle Sandwich purist and usually stick with the traditional for a mere $7.49. Either way I am instantly transported to waffle heaven, which isn’t really surprising as that is how the Red Hut got started back in 1959 when it was the Red Hut Waffle Shop.
For lunch I like the 1/3-pound burger topped with mushrooms (sometimes an Ortega chili) with fries accompanied by a thick, chocolate shake. For dinner I often go right back to the breakfast menu (you can do that at Red Hut) and have Don’s Special — two pancakes, two eggs and three slices of bacon at $7.99 — with a Bloody Mary garnished with jalapeno bacon (Yes. It is my bacon quota for the month.). There is also a generous sandwich menu, old-fashioned soda fountain selections and a perfect children’s menu with kid-friendly meals, complete with a drink, going for $3.99.
This place has been doing diner food with all the fixin’s for more than 50 years, and the small-town friendliness is so pervasive I half expect Opie from Mayberry R.F.D or the Walton clan to walk in the front door. The Red Hut cafés seem to have been operating with the same mission statement for the past 50 years: Offer the best customer service possible, serve the “World’s Best Food” and go about their day-to-day as if they were a family-owned-and-operated business (I am there so much they really should adopt me.). The Red Hut mantra: “Peace, Love and Waffles.” Really, what else does one need?
Simone Grandmain is an internationally published travel and food writer who currently calls Truckee-Tahoe home. She welcomes your recipes, kitchen “must-haves” and food news. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.