Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Rails to Breakfast: San Carlos Depot Cafe

Riding the rails between San Francisco and the Peninsula can turn up a number of surprises, one of which is the San Carlos Depot Cafe. The cafe is located in the former Southern Pacific train depot, which now serves as the San Carlos stop on the Caltrain.

Unique in California railroad architecture, the sandstone depot was constructed in 1888 in the Richardson Romanesque style. You might notice that the architecture has a lot in common with the old campus of Stanford University. Through his friendship with Leland Stanford, early San Carlos resident and builder Nathaniel Brittan reportedly hired architect Charles Coolidge to design the railroad depot. Coolidge's Boston firm Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge were the architects of Stanford University and they used the same brown sandstone from the same quarry used for the Stanford buildings. The depot was designed as a gateway for the City, in part to entice potential homeowners to purchase land. During the railroad grade separation project of the late 90's, Caltrain engineers chose to preserve the depot based on its history and its position on the National Register of Historic Places.

Over 20 years ago, the Depot Cafe moved into what was the former waiting room and telegraph office of the depot. The menu offers standard breakfast and lunch options, including an expanded menu on weekends with corned beef hash and Eggs Benedict. The food isn't particularly inventive, but you will find well prepared omelets, pancakes, hash browns and breakfast meats at reasonable prices. Try the bacon.

In addition to the the food, what makes the cafe most interesting is the decor. Above the old fireplace is a model steam engine, and just about every wall is covered with train photographs, maps, and memorabilia. Rail fans rejoice.

While it's easy to take a stop on the Caltrain for breakfast, it's also convenient to drive and use the Holly exit off U.S. 101. There are dedicated parking spots for the cafe within the Caltrain parking lot.

Location Details:

San Carlos Depot Cafe
599 El Camino Real (Cross street San Carlos Ave)
San Carlos, CA 94070
(650) 595-0555

Open 7 days a week, 6:00 am until 3:00 pm.

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