Updated Sunrise Café in Vista lives up to the hype

We waited a long time to review Bobby and Lori Jones’ Sunrise Café on Santa Fe Avenue. We heard an expansion was in the works and we wanted to write it up.
The restaurant has always been among the most noteworthy in town, but with its new booths and breakfast bar it will be even better. In a week, the sand-colored walls and booths will be full of people, we bet. The regulars love it here.
When Bobby, a third-generation restaurant cook, bought the venerable eatery four years ago, he didn’t quite chuck his 20-year catering business. This week he’s providing food for two local high schools’ events. The couple is local and has raised their two children in Vista. The expansion will help house a Kiwanis club, a teacher’s group, a Lions club, and numerous groups of 12 to 15 from local churches. “We used to have to split them up,” Bobby said. “Now we’ll have a large table for them in here.”
Lest we forget, the hours are 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunrise is true to its name: it’s open every day but Thanksgiving day and Christmas day.
Now the food. It’s our tested theory that we can tell the quality of a restaurant by its iced tea, soup and chicken salad. So, of course, I ordered a bowl of Nanna’s Italian Chicken soup, which was loaded with chicken bites and special small pasta noodles in a spectacular broth. Yummy. John had vegetable soup with a tomato-ish broth, which was similarly good. I pressed on to a half chicken salad sandwich, which came on a homemade roll with a really fresh tomato. Bells rang. John’s turkey/vegetarian sandwich was similarly beguiling. I took a bit home; so did he. We could easily have split a sandwich plate for $6.99 with potato salad or pineapple coleslaw and French fries (or for an extra $1 a bowl of soup) and had plenty to eat. The tea was a reasonable $1.89.
We saw lots of tempting entrees, which we promised we would come back for. The gyro chicken, marinated, with homemade cucumber sauce, choice of fries, coleslaw, fresh fruit or potato salad probably would have filled us up for $6.99.
A card on the table announces the specials, and they stay the same for a week. We made a date to come for the hot roast beef sandwich later in the week.
The Sunrise Café is handicapped-friendly, with a gentle ramp and plenty of parking. It can be found at 1250 S. Santa Fe in the same strip mall as Kragen. Bobby tells of stories his patrons have told him about coming there for 15 years “and the little baby they brought then is 6 feet tall, now.” The Sunrise Café really is a  worthwhile Vista institution.


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