Food serves many roles. At a minimum, it’s sustenance, but it can also nourish, nurture, heal—and sometimes it can revive. I went in search of all of these things when my husband Brian and I stepped into the Silver Dollar (1761 Frankfort Ave.) on a nippy Sunday morning for brunch.
I was feeling a bit over-served after some Halloween festivities the night before, and in search of food that could re-ignite me for the day. I needed a meal that was hearty, carb-heavy and maybe just a little greasy. And just because I wasn’t in tip-top shape didn’t mean I loosened my standards—the food should taste really good.
This was my first time to the honky-tonk restaurant housed inside an old fire station on Frankfort Avenue, so I took my time looking around from my cozy little nook under the stairs. The Silver Dollar is themed around the Bakersfield Sound era—think hardscrabble times set to a soundtrack of old-time country music, with a south-of-the border menu flair.
Themed restaurants can easily turn out hokey and awkward, but the cheerful colored lights, retro coffee mugs (exactly like some my grandma had) and vintage Merle Haggard made for a lively—but not over the top—atmosphere. The Dustbowl migration launched the Bakersfield sound, and having lived in Oklahoma as a kid, with my roots in a bluegrass-playing family, I felt right at home.
I would’ve liked to have raided the buffet table set up for a private party, as I eyed every plate that passed in my line of sight with longing. Waffles, scrambled eggs, bacon, sopes—they all sparked a hankering.
The toughest call to make at brunch is sweet or savory. In the end I decided to go for both, with a fried green tomato and bacon sandwich dubbed the Texas Toast Stack ($9) and a half waffle. The half waffle is not strictly a menu option, but pleading with the waiter for a taste of a waffle will net you two triangles, with accompanying warm fruit compote. At $4.50, it’s half the price of the full dish. Brian chose the enfrijoladas ($12), a smoked chicken and black bean plate.
I sipped a zippy, house-made ginger beer ($2) while we waited—it was too early for one of the creative cocktails. The fresh-squeezed orange juice ($3) Brian chose was a sweet, pulpy wake-up call to go along with his coffee ($2).
I was a bit embarrassed when my food arrived because the two plates barely fit in front of me. It was too late to ask for my waffle to come after my sandwich, as it would have made a fine dessert. Then again, if I’d known about the homemade desserts on offer, I might’ve gone for one of them instead.
My sandwich was just what the doctor ordered—two thick, toasted slices of bread that satisfied my visceral need for carbs and melted cheese, and tall enough that I had to squinch it together. The crispy bacon and the fried green tomato were topped with a fried egg sliding off the side, sweet caramelized onions and a slick of basil mayo. It was marvelously messy and so good I didn’t want to share. But that would’ve been rude, since Brian let me try some of his enfrijoladas. He praised the smoky, succulent chicken smothered in earthy black beans, with a generous topping of queso fresco and sour cream, all served atop corn tortillas.
I didn’t put my sandwich down once, pausing only a couple of times to try the side of sweet potato fries, which, sadly were a disappointment. They’re difficult to master—I certainly haven’t done it. These were overcooked yet still limp, the worst possible combination. But I had plenty to eat, so I didn’t fret about the fries.
Once I polished off my sandwich, I turned to the waffle. It wasn’t warm, so the butter didn’t melt nicely, but no matter. I dredged it through the crimson fruit compote and dipped it in maple syrup for a happy mash-up of crunch and sweet. I could’ve easily had the whole waffle—light and airy, it wasn’t especially filling—but eating only a half allowed me to preserve some dignity. It was perfectly cooked, and filled the craving born the previous night of one too many bourbons and reminiscing about late-night trips to the Waffle House.
My brunch served its purpose: I was ready now, at noon, to face the day. The food was well worth the $37 tab, and (calorie bomb though it was) I enjoyed it so thoroughly that it was worth the calories, too.
The Silver Dollar. It’s worth the trip.