Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Where to Eat: Brunch @ Cici's Cafe

You know how the saying goes: “Never judge a book by its cover.” Had I not taken this advice to heart, I never would have patronized CiCi’s Café. There’s nothing aesthetically resonating about it, so I would have categorized it as blasé and gone on my merry way. Tucked away in a homely Tarzana strip mall, it neighbors a bustling barbershop and a greasy BBQ joint, and it's surrounded by a cramped parking lot. Inside, the décor is simple and clean, with no memorable accents or features.

Based on these mediocre cosmetic appearances, you might assume that the food here would be characterless as well. But instead of fretting about outward appearances, it looks as though all of CiCi’s efforts went towards creating unforgettable brunch selections. Words can never justly describe how scrumptious the breakfast and lunch specialties are. I don’t know if there’s crack mixed into the batter or what, but it’s frightening how you start to crave more and more. I’ve done some crazy things for a stack of CiCi’s pancakes: I’ve battled traffic on the 405 freeway for two hours …waited an hour in line, half-starved…frantically driven in circles with tears forming at the corner of my eyes while searching for parking…

No, I haven’t tried every item on the menu, but I can confidently say that everything I have eaten thus far has been superb. The Red Velvet Pancakes, hands down, are my favorite. Already oozing with great red velvet goodness, they’re stacked with rich chocolate mascarpone cream, silky chocolate sauce and a dollop of whipped cream. When I’m in the mood for something savory, I order the Veggie Burger. It’s a monstrosity of veggies, cheese, avocado and patty on a whole-wheat bun. Recently, per the owner’s suggestion, I tried the Kahlua Pancakes, which were light, fluffy and refreshing.

Cruising down Ventura Blvd., it’s quite easy to not even throw so much as a second glance in the direction of CiCi’s Café. But don’t let the tiny appearance fool you – this place is remarkable. It’s one of the best hidden brunch secrets in the Valley. Spread the word about it, and see you there!

PICTURED BELOW: The Kahlua pancakes. The owner told me that they are the most popular pancake dish amongst customers.

PICTURED BELOW: The Mama Bea Omelet. My friend Kaneema’s all-time favorite dish. Veggie sausage, spinach, mushrooms, garlic and mozzarella affectionately enveloped by egg whites and drenched in tomatillo sauce.

PICTURED BELOW: The atmosphere is casually relaxing. Feel free to come in comfy sweats with an expandable waist.

Contact Information:
CiCi’s Café
18912 Ventura Blvd.
Tarzana, CA 91356

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