Social media has a way of making or breaking a business. Once a place gets some positive reviews, the word-of-mouth machine is off to a roaring start – and before you can say champurrado, the place is packed with customers. Such is the case with Café de Olla: a new eatery (opened in late 2015) in Burbank with outstanding Mexican food, satisfying breakfasts, and tasty American fare.
This cute little eatery is nestled between businesses on a busy street in Burbank. It would be easy to miss if it were not for the beautiful sign above the café and the seemingly endless throngs of people waiting outside for a table.
The tables are strategically placed into a very small space, and there is very little walking area between tables. An adorable bench is stationed near the front window with comfortable pillows, creating a homey feel and a creative seating solution to the tiny dining area. Two outdoor tables help with overflow and people who are waiting for a table can utilize the comfy bench situated outside. The walls are sparsely decorated with nice pictures and inspirational messages in beautiful lettering. The café is under minor renovation, and more decor and accoutrements are expected in the future.
I visited recently on a weekday morning and was met with an impressive line of people waiting to be seated, making it look more like a Saturday morning than a Wednesday. I spoke with Danny, the owner, on both of my visits, and both times he was friendly, courteous, and full of information. Grace, my server, was friendly and helpful. She seemed to always have an infectious smile on her face, and she was patient and professional, even in the midst of a customer onslaught.
The menu is designed to please everyone who visits – whether they are in the mood for Mexican cuisine or traditional American fare. During my recent visit, I had two things on my mind: the outrageously delicious signature drink, café de olla, and the hugely popular chilaquiles poblanos. The namesake coffee drink is steeped for a little while with a brewed concoction of a Mexican specialty called piloncillo (pure, unrefined sugar that is pressed into a cone shape) and cinnamon. This coffee needs no adornment at all, but the owners happily supply half-and-half, just in case you can’t wrap your mind around coffee without the addition of dairy products. I have tried it both ways, and both are equally tasty.
The menu lists an impressive selection of dishes for such a tiny space, with three different types of chilaquiles alone. You can get them in the Azteca, Suiza, or Poblano style – basically a difference in sauces. I went with my gut feeling and ordered the much-lauded chilaquiles poblanos, as well as a side of buttermilk pancakes to get a taste of the American side of things. Café de Olla does not skimp on portions, and I found myself taking food home for later. My chilaquile dish was delicious. Tortilla chips were topped with a flavorful sour cream-enriched poblano sauce, shredded jack cheese, an extra dollop of sour cream, and two eggs any style. The whole thing was served with flavorful, perfectly cooked rice and deliciously seasoned refried beans.
I ordered a side of buttermilk pancakes to see how they did on the traditional American side of things. The pancakes were light, fluffy, and perfect.
I took my daughter on another recent visit, and only then did I realize they had a children’s menu with very kid-friendly meals and prices. She loved her grilled cheese sandwich with fruit, and we both loved my Banatella pancakes. These are the same buttermilk pancakes as before, but served with sliced bananas, Nutella, and whipped cream; served with syrup. It’s a great deal at only $11.50, and comes with two eggs any style, 2 sausage links or 2 strips of bacon, and choice of hash browns, home fries, or fruit. The over-easy eggs in my order were cooked perfectly, the sausage links were flavorful, and the home fries were well-seasoned, crisp on the outside, and tender on the inside. My pancakes were, well…addictive. The meal is easily enough for two people. My daughter liked my pancakes as much as I did, and I was happy to share.
Diners get a host of options if they’re thinking of egg dishes: there’s nopalitos (cactus) con huevos, chorizo con huevo, huevos rancheros, machaca (shredded beef) con huevos, and others. Other breakfast offerings include omelets (including those with fajitas or chorizo), classic American pairings like corned-beef hash or steak and eggs, breakfast sandwiches and burritos, and various varieties of French toast and pancakes.
The lunch menu includes great looking burgers (all the classics as well as turkey and veggie options), tasty sandwiches, and substantial, beautifully fresh salads.
Café de Olla doesn’t disappoint for dinner as well. Diners can choose from Mexican dishes such as sopes, carne asada, quesadillas, fajitas, enchiladas, and one of my favorites, molé (a deliciously rich sauce made from chiles, aromatics, and chocolate). I bet if I begged them enough, they’d slather this delicious concoction on other things. I’ll have to test this theory next time. If all of this wasn’t enough, there is also a variety of tacos, burritos, and tortas. One of these days, I’ll have to ask to see the kitchen to see how they turn out so much delicious food from such a tiny space.
Café de Olla is a wonderful neighborhood spot, and the prices are reasonable. Hopefully, they’ll be able to move to a bigger location soon to accommodate their growing list of faithful patrons.
Café de Olla is located at: 2315 W Victory Blvd. Burbank, CA 91506
The phone number is: (818) 588-3684
Hours: Sunday — Tuesday: 7am-3pm; Wednesday — Saturday: 7am-8pm