Seems like wherever you go in this town you either run into a Cozy Cafe or a Home Plate Diner. With six locations for Cozy Cafe – five of them spread out across the western Metro and one on S.E. 14th – and Home Plate Diner’s two locations on Des Moines' east side, its easy to see why.
Having been to the Home Plate Diner’s E. 30th location on several occasions [see blog post], a visit to a Cozy Cafe had eluded me until recently. I chose the easier location for me to get to, at the corner of 54th & Douglas housed in a former Wendy’s. I should mention this was the place, as a teenager, where I had my first burger with mayonnaise – and loved it!
Settling in on a dreary Sunday morning I selected half-orders of biscuits and gravy, and their signature breakfast melange, the CozyMess.
The CozyMess featured hash browns with ham, bacon, sausage, green pepper, tomato, onion, jalapeño, and cheese, with eggs to order on top. Offering crispy strands of potato, meaty chunks of ham, and a little bit of everything else it was a fine mess indeed.
Fork tender, fluffy biscuits were ladled with a smooth, quite peppery white gravy flecked with bits of sausage; not a whole lot, but still comforting on a cold gray day.
I’ve lamented over the closing of TR’s Sports Bar in Clive and its Mama’s Special Sandwich for quite some time. It was a magnificent breakfast sandwich [see blog post]. On my next visit to the Merle Hay neighborhood Cozy Cafe I found its heir apparent: The Big Al.
The Big Al is a behemoth of a breakfast sandwich, with pretty much double of everything: two scrambled eggs, two sausage patties, a slice each of American and pepper jack cheese, all nestled into a toasted English muffin. The Big Al came to the table, literally hot off the grill. I had to let that formidable sandwich cool down while I contented myself with an optional side of crispy potato bites - tater tots by any other name.
Service on both visits was friendly and rather quick. The Sunday breakfast crowd doesn’t waste too much time filling up the place, so either come early or wait until later: breakfast on Sundays ends at 2 p.m.