I thought I was going to need a bigger fork. Maybe a scoop.
The plate arrived mounded with five pounds of meat, eggs and potatoes. A blanket of cheddar clung to the top like a melted cheese snow cap.
It looked like a food dare.
I have this mantra as a paid belly: Always get the add-on gravy or bacon.
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Anyone who regularly reads me knows that needs zero explanation, but this time, I was actually glad I didn’t opt for the extra gravy.
There used to be a contest at the Around the Corner Cafe in downtown Orting for diners who thought they could stomach the cafe’s signature five-pound hobo hash.
These days, it’s just a menu item, not a contest.
The breakfast-and-lunch restaurant imported that giant pile of hobo hash from Orting to Tacoma last week when its owners opened the second Around the Corner Cafe 2 at 5640 South Tacoma Way. That’s the former home of The Chili Parlor, which operated from February 2016 until September. The Orting restaurant will continue to operate. The Tacoma cafe is an addition.
There are three other hobo hashes on the menu, all in five-pound servings. They’re priced $12.99 to $13.99, which is an unbelievable deal for a mountain of food that could feed a small family or country.
Eddie and Mary Turner are the owners of Around The Corner Cafe. Eddie’s kitchen resume reads like the Who’s Who of South Sound Diners: Poodle Dog, Harvester, Burs and Knapp’s.
They purchased Around the Corner Cafe in 2015 from a former business associate. The cafe’s owners before that were Kim Farnes and Carl Scanson.
It’s a little hole-in-the-wall place in downtown Orting. The Tacoma location follows the same format: It’s little, a hole-in-the-wall, with a big menu of bargain-priced breakfast and lunch dishes. It’s also in good diner company on South Tacoma Way. It’s nearly equidistant to Marcia’s Silver Spoon and the Homestead.
Gravy crawl, anyone?
Here’s a first-bite look of the restaurant that opened Nov. 20.
Dining room: It looks just as it did when Chili Parlor operated at the location, which has hosted a revolving door of restaurants that includes Papa Eddie’s Cajun Cafe, Edison City Diner, Philly Joe’s and The Old Milwaukee. A checkerboard floor anchors the small dining room with a handful of booths opposite a dine-in counter straight out of the ‘50s. A few more tables are in the back.
Menu: With menu prices creeping upward, it’s always so surprising to see a half-pound burger under $10, a chicken fried steak plate for around $10 and sandwiches mostly at the $10 mark in a restaurant with table service. The menu is loaded with affordable diner classics.
A single menu is served during operating hours, which means breakfast for lunch is possible. The hours (for now) are 7 a.m.-2 p.m. daily.
Traditional breakfasts include chicken fried steak and eggs ($10.99), New York steak and eggs ($12.99), eggs Benedict ($10.99) and “the big Breakfast,” which also sounds like a food dare with a choice of eggs, 3 pieces of sausage or 6 pieces bacon, hash browns or home fries, with a side of toast, pancakes or French toast ($12.99).
Seven omelets are listed, including one vegetarian ($9.50 to $9.99). There’s also biscuits and gravy ($6.99), a breakfast burrito ($9.99), breakfast sandwiches ($7.99 to $9.99) and stacks of pancakes or French toast ($5.99 to $6.99).
The lunch menu lists 20 sandwiches and wraps including diner classics of a Reuben ($9.99), Monte Cristo ($10.99), burger dip ($10.49), patty melt ($8.99) and French dip ($9.99). Seven burgers listed ($6.99 to $10.49). Fish and chips or a chicken strips baskets also listed ($9.99).
Get the: Duh, the original hobo hash. If you want to admit defeat as a glutton, the cafe does offer a smaller version for two bucks less. I opted for the full meal deal and was rewarded with a hefty takeout box. The mountain of steamy potatoes, scrambled eggs, diced bacon and mushrooms was volcanic level hot down into the middle.
The chicken fried steak was a terrific portion for the price, with thick-and-peppery country gravy in lieu of sausage, plus two over-easy eggs as requested, hash browns that carried a crispy crust, and two blocky wedges of toast ($10.99).
A half-pound diner burger was a behemoth with a swipe of mayo on the top cottony bun, the burger patty looked hand-formed and covered in melted shredded cheddar. It was dressed with pickles, lettuce, tomatoes and required a knife to make it manageable for two hands. Served with seasoned, battered fries on the side ($8.49, plus 75 cents for cheddar cheese).
Around the Corner Cafe 2
Where: 5640 South Tacoma Way, Tacoma; 253-267-1247; facebook.com/Aroundthecornercafe2
Hours: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily (for now).
Orting location: 301 Harman Way S., Orting; 360-893-1934.