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Menu at Paul's Pantry Worth Waffling Over

March 05, 1992|APRIL JACKSON

To some of us, stale doughnuts and coffee served in a plastic cup undergoing various stages of meltdown do not a breakfast make. We prefer chowing down on a stack of hot cakes to dusting confectioner's sugar off our laps as we crawl along the San Diego Freeway.

Luckily, Paul's Pantry serves up a breakfast with more than a generic flap of the jack and quick cup of joe.

Woven into the pastel and teal decor of this Mission Viejo eatery are construction workers, doctors changing shifts and commuters fueling up. Paul's has a friendly atmosphere, good food and cheap prices. In other words, it's as if a redecorated Mel's Diner dropped from the sky into a strip center in this overpriced chain-restaurantland known as Orange County.

As I sat down one recent morning, a waitress instantly appeared at my side asking, "Want some coffee, hon?" Without waiting for a reply, she plopped a big mug on the Formica table in front of me.

Great service sets Paul's Pantry apart from the roadside blur of pedestrian pancake pushers. The staff is mostly laid back (despite the coffee mug experience) and attentive, patiently waiting as you make up your mind between a stack of thick buttermilk pancakes, waffles with fruit, or maybe two eggs over easy with home fries and biscuits. Most items cost around three bucks, so deciding what to eat can be the toughest chore of the day. I slurped down chunks of melt-in-your-mouth honeydew melon and topped it off with a baked-from-scratch cinnamon roll that ridicules the recommended daily allowances for butter and sugar.

In addition to breakfasts, the diner offers a moderately priced luncheon menu with items ranging from pasta dishes to patty melts. If it's a nice afternoon, be sure to snag one of the umbrella-cloaked tables on the patio. You may not go back to work.

In a land covered with freeways and fast food French toast, Paul's Pantry reminds of the days when biscuits were served with gravy, coffee was poured from a bottomless pot and service was always accompanied with a smile.

Paul's Pantry, 27409 Bellogente B, Mission Viejo. Open daily, breakfast and lunch only, 6 a.m to 3 p.m. (714) 364-1088.

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