I’ll admit. When Texas landed on the breakfast trip calendar, I secretly hoped that San Marcos, my hometown, would win the heart of the Lone Star State and the followers of Little Lee’s BREAKFAST IN AMERICA…and, to my amazement and delight, it did!
I absolutely love my hometown and when I get a chance to visit, I’m always taken back to times of Ralph the Swimming Pig, Mama’s Pizza and sixth grade at Lamar Middle School. If you grew up in San Marcos in the 80s, you just took a ride down memory lane.
Another place I grew up with was Paper Bear – one of the most unique specialty shops in San Marcos. I remember saving my money to buy a Duran Duran button or a super cool sticker set or one of their colored plastic boxes that would house my love letters to DD’s drummer, Roger Taylor. Fortunately, for anyone who visits San Marcos today, Paper Bear is still alive and thriving. In fact, it is now located directly across from it’s original location – a semi-underground spot on North LBJ. In it’s place…the Root Cellar Cafe and Gallery – Texas’s favorite breakfast spot.
When I Google-mapped the location, I knew exactly where I’d be traveling. It was my hometown and LBJ (named after the 36th President of the United States Lyndon Baines Johnson) is its main thoroughfare. But, when I got there I looked around (above ground) for the restaurant and didn’t see anything. Then, I saw the entrance, saw where it led and felt my smile widen to something resembling a cheshire cat.
I walked down the steps and into the Root Cellar Cafe and Gallery…I hadn’t stepped foot inside that building in decades and it felt just like home. I knew that breakfast was going to be good.
Thank you to owner Kyle Mylius and executive chef Megan Turbeville for your hometown hospitality and for taking time to prepare some fun food for my visit.
As the name suggests, the Root Cellar Cafe is located in a quaint basement that was originally used as a root cellar – a place that is built partially underground to store fruits, nuts and…yes, root vegetables. The restaurant opened for business in February 2005 after a grueling period of remodeling and prep work and became a part of San Marcos culture. And, if you’ve never been to San Marcos, the culture is, in a word…eclectic – merging college life and commerce, history and a killer art scene. And, in my humble opinion, the Root Cellar Cafe fits into the fold perfectly.
And what they also do perfectly is breakfast.
I started my meal with something somewhat exotic – Brazilian French Toast. Well, it’s not quite that exotic…I mean, how exotic is French Toast, really? But, when you add a little vanilla rum to the mix, it turns a simple dish into something quite special. The portion size is just right…it fills you up, but leaves you wanting more because it’s so darn tasty. Remind me to hang with Brazilians more often…especially if they’re serving up some French Toast. 🙂
Next up was their Baker’s Bagel. Okay, you have a bagel and cream cheese, so what’s the fuss all about? Well, let me tell you. Yes, you start with a plain bagel and top it with cream cheese. But, this isn’t your ordinary cream cheese. It’s a wonderful mixture of honey and cream cheese whipped together into dulcet deliciousness. Then, slice and sauté a Granny Smith apple in butter, cinnamon and sugar until it’s cooked through for a perfect topping to this easy and scrumptious breakfast treat.
To finish my hometown breakfast extravaganza, we went with another simple, but unique selection…the Rae Sandwich – named after one of Kyle’s friends named, well, uh…Rae. Megan and I decided it was an acronym for Really Awesome Egg sandwich. I’ve had my fair share of egg sandwiches before and they always go something like this – bread, egg, cheese. Or, bread, egg, sausage, cheese. Or, bread, egg, bacon, cheese. See the pattern? So, the Root Cellar Cafe decided to do it a little differently. First, they begin with thickly-sliced bread appropriately called Texas Toast…and you can never go wrong with Texas Toast. Then you pack it with an over-easy egg, sliced tomatoes and pickles. Yes, I said tomatoes and pickles. Never would have seen that combination, but it works and works really well together. Unlike a standard egg sandwich made with a hard fried egg, the Rae is served a little runny, allowing the yolk to blend nicely with both the tomatoes and pickles. What’s left is one satisfied palette.
After my three-course meal, I perused the gallery of artwork by local artists hanging on the walls throughout the restaurant. I bid farewell to my gracious hosts and made my way back to the airport…past the beautiful historic homes on Belvin Street, past the Sac-n-Pac that’s still in business, past the ever-growing outlet malls that dwarf the sign of Centerpoint Road – the road that led back to Southridge Estates and to a time of long summer days picking blackberries, playing tag in the fields behind my house and waiting for the lightning bugs to tell me when it was time to go home.