Who wouldn’t want to eat breakfast in a place called Rainbow? It would be like not wanting to eat breakfast in Happy Land, Hawaii or Little Heaven, Delaware or Carefree, Arizona. It’s a name that begs a visit, so that’s exactly what I did when Rainbow Oaks Restaurant in Rainbow, California was voted Southern California’s favorite breakfast spot.
Yes, I said Southern California. California is HUGE. In fact, it is America’s most populous state – containing more people than the 21 least populous states combined. So, for the purpose of my quest, I divided California in two and began with it’s southern megaregion…thanks, Wikipedia….never heard of a megaregion before but I kinda like it.
I was convinced that a cool, hip place in a metropolitan area like Santa Barbara, Los Angeles or San Diego would win So. Cal’s top spot. In my opinion, any place that serves up an awesome breakfast is hip and definitely cool…so Rainbow – with a population of less than 2,000 – fits the bill.
Rainbow is located in San Diego County just south of Temecula off the Interstate 15 freeway. Rainbow proper consists of a grocery store, a gas station, a florist and Rainbow Oaks Restaurant. It’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it kinda town. So, I would keep your eyes peeled – you certainly wouldn’t want to miss out on this breakfast.
Commonly known as The Oaks, Rainbow Oaks Restaurant was originally established in 1946. After an extensive renovation to restore the interior of the building utilizing local timbers salvaged from the devastating 2007 San Diego fire, it reopened anew in 2009.
The day I visited The Oaks, it was slightly cooler, cloudy and a bit damp…so, their typical weekend crowd wasn’t there that day. Their typical weekend crowd? Anywhere from 300 to 500 bikers roar into Rainbow on their way down to San Diego or up to Julian for a quick bite. I’m sure it’s a sight to see. And, so is their breakfast.
First, thank you to owners Duke and Jonelle Maples, and their wonderfully helpful employee, Teresa Nieto, for your generous hospitality.
I started with something I’ve never had before…wild boar cranberry sausage. Growing up in Texas, I was introduced to many different types of game meat like quail, venison, pheasant and duck. Some were good and some were…well, gamey…which is what I thought my first wild boar experience might taste like. Fortunately, it wasn’t like that at all. In fact, the influence of the cranberry and shiraz wine brought about a burst a flavor making the sausage a little sweet and little savory…but a whole lot of delicious.
Speaking of delicious was their next dish…apricot pancakes. As I’ve said before in some of my previous posts, I LOVE thin pancakes. The Oaks’ pancakes aren’t and they are perfect just they way they are due to the specially ordered and intensely guarded buttermilk demanded by the chef for his pancakes. These things melt in your mouth. The buttery, fluffy pancakes are stuffed with dried apricots, which treated me to a wonderful surprise with every couple of bites. Brilliant!
Next up were their Egg Skins…yep, Egg Skins not potato skins. This is one of those dishes perfectly designed for a grab and go breakfast. First, you start with a hollowed out potato skin. Not a bad place to start. Then, stuff it with scrambled eggs with or without bacon (or sausage), and top it with scallions and melted cheese. It’s served with two different types of salsa and sour cream. Be careful…these are served three to an order but if you’re hungry order away.
Rainbow Oaks Restaurant is open everyday from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. It’s located at 4815 5th Street in Rainbow. On their Web site, they state “Make it a point to stop by and see Duke and Jonell at the “Oaks”… you will seriously be happy that you did! ” Seriously, you should. And, when you do…tell ’em Little Lee sent you!