June 24, 2009 > Restaurant Review: Cabrillo Park Cafe
Restaurant Review: Cabrillo Park Cafe
By J.D. Wolfe
At one time there was a corner restaurant on Thornton in the Cabrillo Park Plaza that was so non-memorable no one seemed surprised when it sadly failed. I use the word 'sadly' because whenever someone puts their heart and soul into opening any business and it fails, this is sad.
However, in this case, out of the ashes arose Cabrillo Park Cafe. Traveling east from Hwy 880 on Thornton Avenue in Fremont, the restaurant is located in The Cabrillo Shopping Plaza.
A few years back I was driving by and happened to notice the place had re-opened. It caught my eye so I stopped in for breakfast and had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Dave Ureno, the oldest brother of this family affair - Esperanza (Mom), Jaime, Fidel, and Gabriel (brothers) and Monica and Erica (sisters). This is a great family restaurant with nice, comfortable booths and easily-accessed tables and chairs and a counter - not formal dining place.
The kitchen area is well kept and well designed for efficiency. Restrooms are clean and well-maintained. Dave and the family really put their heart and soul into the place and made it work. How did they do it? The obvious answer is good food, but there is more.
Until customers and revenue from breakfast and lunch sustained the business the family decided to skip dinner service. Often I would go in for breakfast and Dave was always there. Initially weekdays were weak and weekends saw moderate traffic in the mornings. That changed quickly as word spread and today you cannot get a place to sit on weekends without waiting. As time passed, Dave and the family opened Cabrillo Park Cafe for dinner. You can now order top quality steak dinners with plenty of other goodies at reasonable prices.
Dave openly shared with me how he carefully watches all costs since in the food business, spoilage can be disastrous. If you meet Dave, he cheerfully shares the history and philosophy of the cafe. It is amazing how well Cabrillo Park Cafe functions behind the scenes as well as in visible customer operations.
This translates to fresh and ample food - breakfasts are fantastic. Little things catch my attention such as a good selection of condiments on the table. There is little need to find your server and wait while they get what was missing. I hate that more than anything.
If you are a bacon lover, and really, who isn't, then you have found heaven on earth at Cabrillo Park Cafe. Sausage? Hello! What do I have to say to get my point across? They even know how to make poached eggs!
Lunches are also terrific. You cannot find a better sandwich than the turkey melt. Okay, that is not quite true since the other sandwiches are equally well done. Of course, you cannot go wrong with a good old-fashioned hamburger or their most excellent Portabella Mushroom Sandwich served on toasted sourdough toast with onion, pickles and a ton of feta cheese, finished with spices all around. I did not know mushrooms grew that large! I would probably make the Portabella Mushroom Sandwich with melted Monterey Jack on top instead of Feta Cheese, but that is just my personal taste.
Do I have one complaint? Actually, I do. A large wood-carved statue of a happy chef used to greet customers outside the front door. I will let Dave tell you why it is gone and no... it was not stolen.
Stop by Cabrillo Park Cafe and enjoy a great breakfast, lunch, or dinner. You cannot go wrong.
4673 Thornton Avenue
Fremont, CA 94536
Reviewed May 20, 2009