One of the joys of travel is finding fun local places to have breakfast. That’s a road trip focus my partner and I share — and when we’re starting out early for a day of trekking in the outdoors, robust morning coffee and a healthy, fortifying meal are a must. We found two gems for both in Bishop, when we made the town our base for exploring the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest and Old West ghost town, Bodie, last fall.
Waffles and Books at the Pupfish Café
Named for a tiny, endangered Death Valley fish, this cozy, friendly café is located inside an attractive indie bookstore, a bonus for book lovers. The menu emphasizes locally sourced products, including eggs, bread, baked goods and artisan coffee from Black Sheep Coffee Roasters just down the street.
As you can see from the counter menu above, the coffee options are extensive. The cappuccino and the full-bodied house brew we tried were both excellent.
The cafe’s specialty is the Liège waffle, named for the city in Belgium. It’s made with a brioche dough and studded with chunky pearl sugar that caramelizes as the waffle cooks, producing a crisp exterior.
When I saw this waffle in my pre-trip restaurant research, I was hooked. At the cafe, I promptly ordered one for us to share with our coffee while perusing the rest of the menu. Intended to be eaten by hand, it arrived warm and fragrant in its paper package –– a sweet, crunchy, dense and chewy delight. Don’t leave the Pupfish without trying one.
After our rich “starter,” we moved on to the Eggs on Avocado, which came with a choice of Kalamata olives, red pepper flakes or fresh basil. The dish came nicely plated, with the scrambled eggs on a perfectly ripe sliced avocado, the basil garden-fresh.
We enjoyed the food and ambience so much, we returned and were again impressed. I had the Paleo Breakfast: two poached eggs cooked to order, topped with a house-made cilantro-caper spread, and served on mixed greens tossed with a zippy vinaigrette. A satisfying choice for vegetarians like me, as well as Paleo diet followers. My partner enjoyed the Egg and Cheese Panini, served on a ciabatta roll.
In sum, for a variety of healthy, flavorful breakfast choices, served in a relaxed modern setting, up with contemporary food trends, but not pretentious and pricey, head to the Pupfish Café.
Pupfish Café Location: 124 S. Main Street (U.S. Hwy 395), Bishop, CA. The entrance to the cafe is from the free parking lot behind Spellbinder Books. To check current hours and menu: www.pupfishcafe.com
A Passion for Baking at Great Basin Bakery
Sometimes you just want a great pastry and coffee for breakfast, and wherever we travel, I’m on the lookout for the best local bakeries. In Bishop, Great Basin Bakery caught my attention as a real community place versus the town’s ultra-hyped tourist destination. It’s a small shop with a friendly vibe and a large selection of fresh, high quality breads and pastries.
I love cinnamon rolls, but hate those flavorless bombs drowned in an avalanche of icing. Great Basin’s are bright with cinnamon and not too sweet, with a pleasing texture and just a light glaze on top. I prefer mine served warm, which they’ll gladly do if you ask.
We also tried the buttermilk scone with orange zest and dark chocolate chips, a winner paired with their Black Sheep Coffee Roasters brew.
The morning we visited, the place was bustling with hikers, bikers, locals grabbing their morning coffee … At peak hours, seating can be challenging with the limited space, but it’s worth the wait –– and ours wasn’t long. Counter staff were welcoming, and patient with our newcomers’ questions, service attentive.
Other things to like about this place: Like the Pupfish Café, Great Basin uses local ingredients and products and highlights fresh, healthy eating. They offer mini cinnamon rolls, scones and muffins, great for sampling or for those who just want a small sweet bite with their coffee. (More bakeries should do this.) Their lunches, snacks and grab-and-go items include vegetarian and vegan options.
Did I mention the varied selection of great-looking bread? We chose the multigrain sandwich loaf for its healthy, all-wholegrain ingredients, including wheat bran, oats and rye flakes. For flavor and texture, you can’t go wrong with this one for sandwiches and toast. Maybe next time, the sourdough rye.
Great Basin was started by two partners who dreamed of pursuing their passion for baking. You can find the inspiring story here. After more than 15 years in business, that passion is still evident.
Great Basin Bakery Location: 275 S. Main Street, Bishop, CA. To check current hours and menu: greatbasinbakerybishop.com
What is one of your favorite coffee and breakfast finds on your travels?
Copyright M. Vincent 2019
Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest hiking photo copyright Brad Nixon, used with kind permission
Pupfish Café photos copyright M. Vincent 2019
Great Basin Bakery photos copyright Great Basin Bakery, used with kind permission