It starts with a search for Pocatello Pete’s, a great character diner our companion had visited years ago on a trip through southern Idaho. Or maybe it’s just a shard of memory from somewhere else, as our streetside queries draw only blank stares from longstanding residents. But our fruitless hunt leads us to Jim Johnston, a realtor, city councilor, former chaplain, fingers-in-all-the-local-pies guy, who can rattle off answers to any Pocatello question (population: 54,260, elevation: 4,450 feet, trails: 250, major industry: education). More importantly, he can tell us where the locals eat.
Thus at 7 the following morning, we roll into Jumbo’s Cafe to find half a dozen sturdy regulars already claiming the counter stools overlooking the kitchen. We grab a table, read the signs (“Complaint Department That Way 200 Miles) and peruse a menu featuring omelettes this family café has been serving for 40 years and something I’ve never seen or tasted: deep-fried scones. Of course, I perform my annual duty and order house-made biscuits and sausage gravy, accompanied by two perfectly cooked over-easy eggs.
As the name suggests, the portions are jumbo: plate-sized pancakes, a “senior’s” portion of French toast, bacon and eggs that would satisfy a teenager and a table-denting, three-egg omelette with hash browns and good homemade toast. And the prices for this quantity and quality of food are downright ridiculous, starting at $5.49 for three hotcakes that will do you for the day.
I say, let’s go on these wild-goose chases more often.
Jumbo’s Cafe (it also goes by Jeri’s Jumbo’s Café)
3122 Pole Line Road, Pocatello, Idaho
Weekdays 6 am-3 pm, weekends 6 am-2 pm
As I’ve said before, I don’t often order meals at a coffee shop. But it’s late in the afternoon, with the caffeine levels well topped up, when we enter Red Hot Roasters, primarily to catch up on email and Internet searching. So we switch gears and go for a lovely bowl of tomato bisque soup and a refreshing plate of potato salad with spring greens and a sesame dressing.
Red Hot Roasters
737 East Clark Street, Pocatello
Weekdays 7:30 am-7 pm, Saturday 8 am-7 pm. Closed Sunday