Hello, Olympic fans! Sick of lineups yet? While waiting to get into a place can always be frustrating, it's often a good sign when you're looking for a good restaurant; after all, if a restaurant is popular enough to attract a large number of people as well as keep them waiting, it's got to be something pretty special! In the case of Sophie's Cosmic Cafe, a favorite with locals, the attraction is a friendly and welcoming staff, a funky decor, and large breakfasts guaranteed to send you away with a full stomach.
About the restaurant: Despite the name, Sophie's Cosmic Cafe does not go in for futuristic or sci-fi decor. Instead, like the Old Spaghetti Factory, it focuses on nostalgic and vintage memorabilia, but with a simpler approach. The walls are festooned with random knicknacks like old tricycles, license plates and children's toys. The old collectibles are coupled with a sort of kitchy 50's diner color scheme, making it seem like a bit of a trip back in time. The waiters and waitresses are very welcoming and friendly, although they can get a bit harried and busy at times. The atmosphere is very homey, with people chatting and laughing. All in all, this is the sort of place where even a first visit makes you feel like a regular, part of the relaxed and warm feeling.
Note that lineups are particularly long on Sundays, as their Sunday brunches are very popular.
The food: Sophie's offers great fare common with casual family diners. Some people have had so-so experiences (reviews on Urbanspoon speak of frozen fries and cold scrambled eggs) but my breakfast and brunch visits have always left me full and very happy. The portions are huge and perfect for an empty stomach, and the food is very savory and satisfying. I'm particularly fond of their Belgian waffles, which are topped with fresh strawberries and blueberries and tastes delightfully sweet. The hash browns are also really tasty, with just the right amount of seasoning. The best part of breakfast at Sophie's, though, is having a tall frosty milkshake with your meal. As a huge milkshake fan, I appreciate the chance to indulge; the milkshakes are thick and sweet and provide an unusual but tasty counterpoint to the breakfast meal. They also come in a wide variety of flavors, including coconut, almond and orange.
While Sophie's is most famous for its breakfasts, its lunches and dinners are nothing to sneeze at, offering a respectable selection of burgers, sandwiches, and even entrees like oyster soup and roasted chicken. Save room for dessert, though... with such tempting items like Belgian chocolate cheesecake and an absolute *mountain* of an apple pie, there's plenty to appeal to your sweet tooth!
One last thing Sophie's is famous for is its hot sauce, which goes well with everything from eggs to fries. If you find yourself falling in love with it, you can buy a bottle for $5, making a nice and cheap culinary souvenir.
My favourites: Belgian waffle, vanilla milkshake.
Cost: While slightly more expensive than similar diners, Sophie's still offers a nice bang for your buck thanks to its large portions. Most dishes are around $10, with some of the more expensive dishes clocking in at $20.
Location(s): Sophie's Cosmic Cafe is in Kitsilano, on 4th Avenue not far from Granville Island. Link to Google Maps.
Website and menu: The main site is currently down for reworking, but you can still access chunks of the site here, including pictures of some of the menu favorites.
Summary: Sophie's Cosmic Cafe has been a Vancouver favorite for years, drawing locals to line up cheerfully every day for its warm atmosphere and satisfying breakfasts. Olympic visitors wanting to see where we go when we're not partying in the streets should take the time and brave one more lineup... I think you'll find it worth the trip!