Today, Kirk and Cathy get a vacation from this blog; instead, Ed (from Yuma) has a long post about a place that's been around even longer.
The interior includes a counter area, one large table area, a smaller back room, and booths along the north and south walls and has miscellaneous decorations: some American flags, a stuffed deer head, drawings of John Wayne, Jimmy Dean, and Elvis (among others), artificial plants, and lots of historical pictures of Yuma, including this photo of Yuma High School when it was located in the abandoned territorial prison:
Students and sports teams at Yuma High are still fondly called Criminals. So, yes, folks here can say, "The best times of my life were the four years I was a Criminal."
The wait staff is extremely friendly, but also efficient and professional. Some servers specialize in seating customers, cleaning tables, and bringing beverages to the table; others take orders and bring out plates of food. The front of the menu fits the place perfectly:
So why haven't I blogged about Brownie's? Partly, I had already eaten at Brownie's a bunch of times before I ever met Kirk or even owned a camera; plus I assumed that damn near everybody in the Yuma area already knew about Brownie's, so what was the point?
But also a number of things that I had tried at Brownie's back in the day were underwhelming. The beef vegetable soup, chicken salad sandwich, and even a roast chicken dinner (when Brownie's was open in the evenings) were pretty much meh. The burgers were okay, but nothing to write home about – or even blog about. The side salads have always been ordinary at best, and their dressings don't taste homemade:
So why am I blogging about this restaurant now? Partly because Tina sometimes likes to go out for a weekend breakfast, and breakfasts are what Brownie's does best.
There is abundant ham, the eggs are not overcooked, and hashbrowns were prepared extra crispy as requested. The little cup of salsa adds a nice local touch.
On this day, however, the overworked kitchen didn't fry a good crust on the beef, so I have no photograph of the really good versions of the chicken fried steak. But most of the time, it is tasty. (Rich of Offbeat Eats likes it too).
I remember the old commercial "with a name like Smucker’s, it's got to be good," and maybe it once was good, but most of the little jellies these days are made from fruit juice, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, fruit pectin, citric acid, and sodium citrate. Certainly doesn't sound like my grandmother's recipe. Grumble grumble.
So sometimes we will choose the "Country Boy" combination with sausage, eggs, and biscuits and gravy instead of hashbrowns and toast ($7.95). This picture shows the half-size portion with bacon and only one biscuit and gravy ($5.95):
Another way to evade toast is a waffle ($4.95 à la carte), served with syrup and soft butter. Pretty standard, but a nice non greasy, crusty surface and lots of little wells to hold the butter and syrup:
Walt Kammann brought this German style sausage recipe with him when he moved from Wisconsin to Yuma in 1934 to manage a pecan grove. A community minded individual, he served on the governing boards for the local hospital and college. Originally he and his family made these sausages for their personal consumption, but soon they were serving them at civic events, such as the annual Rotary Sausage Fry. While no longer made by the Kammann family, this is the traditional recipe – coarsely ground meat with no filler, well spiced with abundant black pepper:
In addition to the generally good breakfasts at Brownie’s, some of the lunch choices are also pretty tasty. Their version of the chili burger ($7.95) is a decent presentation of one of my favorite truck stop meals:
Covered with chopped onion and cheese, the Western-style chili with beans makes a great topping for the preformed hamburger patty. Nothing revolutionary here, just an old favorite fixed in a traditional way.
Of course, sandwiches like the fried ham or the BLT that use breakfast ingredients are also good choices. In addition, the restaurant roasts its own beef and turkey. Therefore the French dip sandwich au jus ($6.95) comes with real jus:
Open faced, gravy covered sandwiches like these always bring back good memories of my 10 years in Columbus, Ohio.
It tastes even better than it sounds.
I have grown fond of Brownie's over the years. Even though it is sometimes a bit hectic and the food is not always top notch, the restaurant has a real down home friendly environment that fits Yuma very well. The menu and food also remind me of the restaurant my parents owned and my mother managed back when I was in junior high and high school in Medford, Oregon. I must have washed thousands of dishes and chopped dozens of onions back then. Sometimes I even took orders and brought out food. Looking back 50 years, those seem like pretty good times, and I always did think washing dishes beat mowing lawns. Brownie’s is the kind of place that does bring back memories of 50 years ago – at least for those of us who have memories of 50 years ago.
Brownie’s Café, 1145 S 4th Ave, Yuma, AZ 85364, (928) 783-7911, open daily in summer from 6 - 2:30, longer hours in the winter.