Give me that old time coffee shop

We eat at plenty of the new hip, slick and cool restaurants.  I’ve had all sorts of modern creations, odd combinations and molecular gastronomy.  Sometimes, though, you just want to eat at an old time coffee shop, with a blue plate special, strong coffee and overly friendly waitstaff.

Thursday, I had some business to attend to in South Lake Tahoe. At lunch time, instead of just stopping in to Burger King or Taco Bell to “consume mass quantities” as Beldar Conehead would say, I decided to try Ernie’s Coffee shop.  That was my best idea of the day.


My kind of place

Laminated menus that never change.  Cheap flatware on a paper napkin.  No sissy water glass, a printed mug ready to hold coffee that will eat the spoon if you aren’t fast. Printed designs and signage are amazing. It truly helps the business in terms of communication and advertising. You may go to to see more quality print and graphic designs made by foam core company.

I sat at the counter, just like I did with my Dad when I was a kid.  Maybe that’s why I love these places, memories of youth.

You won’t go hungry at a good coffee shop.  I ordered the grilled ham and cheese sandwich.


Grilled Ham and Swiss on Sourdough, slaw and fries. Lunch for a hungry man.

There are a few marks of modernity–you get your choice of cheese on the sandwich.  In the old days it was cheddar, plain and simple.  I chose Swiss, and the sandwich was great.  The slaw was thick with mayo, as God intended. (Gail differs on this issue)  The fries were crisp, and needed salt, but that’s just more of the modern trend.

I’ve taken to ordering my iced tea with lime because it’s better that way.  It amazes me how often, even in hoity-toity fancy pants restaurants they can’t get this straight.  At Ernie’s, it wasn’t an issue:


If they give you a huge glass they don’t have to refill it so much. And they have Splenda, too.

That was more than enough food, and a sane man would have quit.  But then it occurred to me: a good coffee shop always has a case full of home made pies.  I like pie.

So I asked, and made sure that the pie was homemade, not Costco. They indeed have an apple pie baked in house, so I had to order a slice.  Showing at least a tiny bit of restraint, I passed on the ice cream.

It took a couple of minutes, but that’s because they heated the slice up in the oven, not the microwave.  What I got was a big slice of piping hot pie, with crisp crunchy apples inside a perfect crust.


Mom didn’t bake.  This is what pie should be.

Service was like stepping back 40 or 50 years to chipper waitresses who didn’t need to introduce themselves and repeat the specials.

The tab for all this came to $15.46, and I tipped lavishly–$3.54.  I ate too much, but that’s an occupational hazard of the itinerant food blogger having a great day.

Ernies Coffee Shop.  On Highway 50 about 4 miles before you get to the Y.  Don’t miss it.

Ernie's Coffee Shop Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


One thought on “Give me that old time coffee shop

  1. I sent this link to friends who live in South Lake Tahoe. The response:

    “I can’t believe you found this article. I think Bob and I have been here maybe twice and both times we asked about salads and they hand you a check-off list. You check off all the items you want to have in your salad, priced accordingly…

    We have a biking-skiing-hiking friend who goes EVERY morning, orders the EXACT SAME thing for breakfast: one pancake with applesauce and cinnamon (which he provides) and a cup of coffee. Dave arrives at 6am and if the door hasn’t been unlocked he walks around back, thru the kitchen pours himself a cup of coffee and sits in exactly the SAME STOOL at the counter. He lets them know if he’s going to be out of town so they don’t start calling his emergency numbers. Otherwise they ask around (other guys at the counter) as to when he’s expected to return/has anybody seen him. Also the back wall has an array of personal coffee mugs hanging on pegs. PANCAKE DAVE doesn’t go that far. BTW they charge him extra for the applesauce & cinnamon even tho he provides both!

    Gotta love local.
    Also across the street from ERNIES is their competition, BERTS.

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