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Food & Drink

Flying out of OAK? 4 area diners you should try

Patrons exiting the Ole's Waffle Shop in Alameda, CA on Feb. 3, 2024.
Patrons exiting the Ole’s Waffle Shop in Alameda on Feb. 3, 2024. | Source: Joel Umanzor/The Standard

Two chain restaurants recently announced they would close their locations near Oakland International Airport due to crime and public safety fears. Denny's announced it would close its 24-hour American-style diner, which opened more than 50 years ago, on Jan. 31.

Denny's announcement followed In-N-Out's, which announced that it would shutter its 8300 Oakport St. location on March 24 after 18 years of operation, following repeated car break-ins, armed robberies and thefts.

But even without the Denny's, there's still plenty of delicious, affordable breakfast to be had on the bright side of the bay.

The Standard has compiled four arguably way better than Denny's options below:

Hornitos Cafe

3012 International Blvd., Oakland

The outside of Hornitos Cafe in Oakland, CA on Feb. 3, 2024.
Hornitos Cafe in Oakland is possibly the best value-for-money breakfast in the city. | Source: Joel Umanzor/The Standard

Along the heart of East Oakland's International Boulevard, Hornitos Cafe sits in an unassuming location, but if you ask locals, the restaurant—which serves up American and Mexican-inspired breakfasts and lunches—is probably the best bang-for-your-buck establishment.

From several omelets under $10 to full plates of chilaquiles con huevos or huevos rancheros for under $12.50, it is hard to beat Hornitos' prices.

"Dude, if you're on a budget, you can get an order of cinnamon french toast for around $6," local Tomas Hidalgo said. "And the vibe inside is chill. Very wholesome place."

Hornitos also offers freshly squeezed juices and smoothies, including papaya, strawberry, mango and carrot. It's open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

A view of the chilaquiles plate at Hornitos Cafe in Oakland, CA on Feb. 3, 2024.
The chilaquiles at Hornitos Cafe in Oakland will set you back less than $12.50. | Source: Joel Umanzor/The Standard

Luis' Coffee Shop

5390 Bancroft Ave., Oakland

Situated at the corner of Bancroft and Fairfax, Luis' Coffee Shop has been serving up affordable breakfasts since 1993, according to Luis' son, Daniel Sanchez.

The family restaurant's most popular dishes, Sanchez said, are the pork chops with grits and the cheese eggs. For those itching for a more Mexican-inspired breakfast, refried beans are offered as a substitute side.

Both breakfast and lunch options range from $10 to $15.

"We've had customers coming since I was a kid," Sanchez said. "It is definitely an old family-style diner, and most of the workers here are family."

Luis's is open from 6 a.m. until 3 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Ole's Waffle Shop

1507 Park St., Alameda

A bustling diner interior with patrons seated and dining, wall art, and a person checking their phone in the foreground.
There's still plenty of delicious, affordable breakfast to be had on the bright side of the Bay. | Source: Joel Umanzor/The Standard

An institution in Alameda, Ole's Waffle Shop has been in business since 1927, serving up Belgian waffles, pancakes and other traditional diner meals.

The almost 100-year-old diner, which often has a line busting out the door, offers a range of choices, from omelets around $15, and lunch options such as burgers, sandwiches and steaks.

Don't be discouraged by the line. The staff usually seats folks quickly, and food is typically served within 15 minutes of ordering.

Ole's also offers eight three-pancake or one-waffle combination plates that are all under $10.

For those who hope to make Ole's waffles or pancakes at home, the restaurant sells their own batter mix.

The diner is open weekdays from 6 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and until 9 p.m. on the weekends.

Buttercup

229 Broadway, Oakland

Oakland's Buttercup diner and bar touts itself as an "East Coast Diner. West Coast Location," according to its website.

Buttercup also has locations in Concord, Walnut Creek and Vallejo. The franchise has been in operation since 1988, according to its website.

Although a bit more expensive than the other options The Standard visited, Buttercup offers a range of breakfast options throughout the day and boasts a bar for those who want a drink while catching a Warriors game on TV.

All 12 omelets are $16.99 and come with a choice of hash browns, O'Brien potatoes or cheesy grits. The classic Buttercup breakfast, which includes two eggs, a choice of breakfast meat and hash browns, is $15.99.

Buttercup also offers a selection of brunch cocktails, including mimosas, micheladas and Bloody Marys.

In addition to breakfast and lunch foods, Buttercup sells an assortment of homemade pies, such as peanut butter cup and chocolate, coconut creme, sugar-free apple and blueberry.

Buttercup is open every day from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Joel Umanzor can be reached at jumanzor@sfstandard.com