Gil's Thrilling (And Filling) Blog

Follow the Culinary Ruminations of New Mexico's Sesquipedalian Sybarite. 838 Restaurant Reviews, More Than 6500 Visitor Comments…And Counting!

Vic’s Daily Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Vic's Daily Cafe on Osuna

Vic’s Daily Cafe on Osuna

When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”
What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”
I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully.
It’s the same thing,” he said.”

Unlike the great philosopher Winnie the Pooh, many Americans, it seems, don’t equate breakfast with excitement. Studies show that far too many of us fuel our bodies with a “gobble and go” mentality that typifies our frenetic lifestyles. In 2007, one food service industry research firm concluded that most Americans spend no more than three minutes shopping for breakfast (at such paragons of nutritional virtue as McDonald’s and Starbucks).

A food and health survey of Americans showed that 92 percent of respondents consider breakfast the most important meal of the day, yet fewer than half (46 percent) of them ate breakfast seven days a week. The most frequently cited reasons for not eating breakfast every day include “not being hungry after waking up” (59 percent) and “not enough time” (54 percent).

Greek Appetizer Plate: Pita wedges, feta cheese, dolmades, Kalamata Olives, Tomatoes, Cucumbers

Greek Appetizer Plate: Pita Wedges, Feta Cheese, Kalamata Olives, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Pepperoncini

Yet another survey, this one commissioned by a bread manufacturer, revealed that breakfast is such an integral part of our daily routine that three-quarters of us say we would opt for a good breakfast over fifteen minutes of extra sleep. The operative word which jumps out from that finding is “good.” Perhaps the reason many of us don’t share Winnie the Pooh’s excitement over breakfast is that we don’t often have a “good” breakfast.  I’m not talking “good” as in meeting the recommended daily allowance of whatever nutritional standards are in vogue, but “good” as in delicious, good as in worth getting up for…good as in Vic’s Daily Cafe, a long-time Duke City favorite first thing in the morning and during the lunch hour.

Although it seems Vic’s Daily Cafe has been around forever, founder Victor Pandazis didn’t launch his eponymous restaurant until 1998. The likely reason it inspires familiarity and nostalgia for many of us long-time residents is because for years previous we frequented Andy’s, a bustling breakfast restaurant owned by Vic’s father until closing in 1997. Andy is still a ubiquitous presence at Vic’s where he greets guests, escorts them to their tables and sometimes runs the cash register. He’s lost a step or two, but remains the genial host he’s always been.

The marquee at Vic’s also inspires nostalgia for anyone who grew up reading Superman comics.  That marquee features a banner emblazoned with the name “Daily Cafe” encircling the planet Earth, very similarly to the Daily Planet’s logo.  The Daily Planet, as fans of the Man of Steel know, was the newspaper for which Superman’s bespectacled alter-ego Clark Kent worked.  Coincidentally but not at all surprisingly, the Daily Cafe is frequented by employees of the nearby Albuquerque Journal.

Similar to other popular breakfast destinations in town (Milton’s, Lindy’s and the Western View Diner come to mind), Vic’s embraces its Greek heritage.  Commemorative plates and framed posters from Greece adorn the restaurant’s stark walls while the menu is festooned with Greek favorites.  Who wouldn’t love breakfast if you had your choice of Greek, New Mexican or American fare, all of it good?

A Short Stack of Pancakes

If you show up for breakfast craving something Greek, choices abound. Whether for breakfast or lunch, envious eyes will trail the wait staff as they deliver a platter of Greek appetizers to your table.  Nestled on a bed of crispy leaf lettuce are stuffed grape leaves, hunks of feta cheese, lip-puckering pepperonici, plumb and juicy Kalamata olives, fresh cucumbers and thinly sliced tomatoes, all drizzled with olive oil.  Wedges of warm pita bread on a plate complete this luscious starter.

The Kalamata olives are among the best we’ve had in Albuquerque.  That makes sense because Andy Pandazis came from a village near Kalamai, Greece where the potent olives are grown.  Over the years he’s cultivated a network of suppliers who provide high quality products like these olives and the wonderful stuffed grape leaves infused with a pleasant citrus influence.  

More breakfast-like is the Athenian, an omelet engorged with feta cheese, spinach, gyros meat, tomatoes and onions.  This is one of the most flavorful omelets in town with each forkful delighting your taste buds.  Vic’s doesn’t scrimp on ingredients.  You’ll be surprised at just how much gyros meat each forkful will reward you with.  Wash it down with Farmer Brothers Coffee, a mellow breakfast blend replenished faithfully by the attentive wait staff.

A surprising Texas meets New Mexico twist is available for breakfast, too.  That would be the Vaquero, a large chicken fried steak topped with red and (or) green chile and melted cheese instead of gravy.  The chicken fried steak is pounded thin and so tender you can cut it with the fork.  If the chicken fried steak isn’t enough, it comes with two eggs any style.  Left-overs a plenty are a standard at Vic’s.

Chicken Tenders with housemade mashed potatoes and gravy and vegetable medley

Chicken Tenders with housemade mashed potatoes and gravy and vegetable medley

Even a short-stack of the restaurant’s signature pecan pancakes is humongous at Vic’s, covering the entire area inside the plate’s rim.  A short-stack means two pancakes instead of the usual order of four.  An order is easily big enough for two.  One of the most popular items on the menu, the pecan pancakes are light and fluffy with a profusion of pecans in each bite. 

SECOND VISIT – 21 APRIL 2013:  Vic’s does a booming business for both breakfast and lunch, but Sunday is when getting a seat is most challenging, especially after the nearby mega church concludes its services.  Get there at about 1:15PM (45 minutes before closing time) and you shouldn’t have to wait…long.  Rather than perusing the menu while you wait, train your eyes upon the dishes destined for other diners.  It’s almost a guarantee that you’ll order something you see headed to someone else’s table.

Vic07

Gyros with a Greek pasta salad

That approach is how we wound up ordering chicken tenders. My fifty-something friend and colleague Mike Muller considers chicken tenders a last great act of defiance against growing old. They’re one of his favorite dishes.   My Kim and I, on the other hand, tend to equate them with McNuggets, a nasty amalgam of sheer, shameful yuck.  When we saw large pieces of boneless chicken headed to an adjacent table, we knew these were not of the Golden Arches ilk.  Vic’s slices chicken breasts into strips and coats them with a very flavorful batter that renders the exterior crisp while leaving the chicken moist, tender and absolutely delicious.  They’re better than the fried chicken at most restaurants.  The chicken tenders are served with real mashed potatoes and gravy.

While the nearby mega church may warn against coveting anything that is your neighbors, at Vic’s Daily Cafe it’s a daily occurrence.  Whether you call it covetousness or sheer lust, watching a plate of gyros make their way to your neighbor’s table will probably mean you’ll order gyros yourself.  It’s a good choice.  A large pita is the canvas for a thinly sliced beef and lamb amalgam, chopped tomatoes, red onions, lettuce and tzadziki sauce.  It’s a very good gyro with high-quality ingredients.  The gyros are served with your choice of one side.  Ask for the Greek pasta salad which is made with feta cheese, olive oil, Kalamata olives, tomatoes, cucumbers and pepperoncini.  It’s a winner.

Banana Cream Pie and Cherry Strudel

Banana Cream Pie and Cherry Strudel

“If we didn’t make them, we wouldn’t serve them” is Andy’s response should you ask if the pulchritudinous pastries encased under glass and the sumptuous strudel lounging on the counter are homemade.  Vic’s takes great pride in its dessert offerings, for good reason.  The banana cream pie is a little wedge of heaven…or at least Gilligan’s Island.  It’s thick, moist and absolutely delicious.  A word of caution, however, if you’re also going to have the superb cherry strudel, make sure to eat it before you eat the banana cream pie.  Otherwise the cherries will be lip-pursing tart.

When many Duke City residents wake up, the first thing they say to themselves in the morning is “let’s go to Vic’s for breakfast.”  Vic’s isn’t solely a breakfast destination.  The lunch menu is replete with comfort food favorites including several Greek entrees.  Whether for breakfast or lunch, Vic’s Daily Cafe can become a daily habit.

Vic’s Daily Cafe
3600 Osuna Rd NE # 105
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 341-9710
LATEST VISIT: 21 April 2013
1st VISIT: 1 November 2008
# OF VISITS: 2
RATING: 18
COST: $$
BEST BET: Pecan Pancakes, The Vaquero, The Athenian, Greek Appetizer Plate, Chicken Tenders,

Vic's Daily Cafe on Urbanspoon

  • Dale says:

    Vaquero! What a breakfast! Too bad more than one a year will kill you. It’s really good. It is everything your doctor warned you about. It’s really good!

    November 12, 2008 at 1:48 PM
  • John K says:

    On a busy day, you get undercooked eggs.

    November 24, 2008 at 9:29 PM
  • Donna says:

    This is my favorite place to eat breakfast…or lunch. Always have a hard time deciding….want to take one of each.

    January 29, 2009 at 7:37 AM
  • Keef says:

    They have some of the best chicken fried steak I’ve ever had. HUGE and hand breaded.

    July 29, 2009 at 11:09 AM
  • Rick Bennett says:

    I live in Phoenix and have since 1992 but I was a huge fan of Andy’s and now I still eat at Vic’s every time I come to town. I remember taking a car full of kids down to Andy’s on Montgomery during lunch from Eldorado and they would take our order as we walked to the table so they could get us food quickly knowing we were on a short lunch break. I would buy Vic’s sauce via the internet and could be delivered. I try to pick some up each time I go.

    August 4, 2009 at 1:11 PM
  • Theresa says:

    I found a bug in my food and asked to speak with the owner. I can’t believe how rude and unprofessional this peson Vic was. I did report to the heath dept and it sounds like it not the first time they have been reported. What a horrible and disgusting experience. I can’t begin to explain how awful this experience was. It’s a shame when the owner displays such a disregard for his customers.

    July 1, 2011 at 10:53 PM
  • Morgain says:

    Ah, the Vaquero. So good. And so, so wrong.

    April 22, 2013 at 3:53 PM
  • Steve says:

    I used to go to Vic’s very often – I would give the food a B- grade – nothing outstanding. I will no longer go into the restaurant because of how I was treated by the owner – Andy’s son – I believe. I had a meeting with a couple of people and asked for a table when I arrived 11:20 AM – I was shown to a 2 seat table. I explained that I wanted a larger table since I was meeting 2 others. I was told the tables with 4 seats were for the lunch crowd – I was there for lunch and I explained that I was meeting a few others. The waitress told me to wait and called for the manager who asked me to explain why I needed a larger table. I repeated myself and was seated at a larger table after being told once more that the larger tables were for their lunch crowd. One person had to cancel lunch and trying to be nice we told the waitress we would be happy to move to a smaller table – again the manager was called and more crap from him. We left the waitress a tip and left – going to the Village Inn – we were promptly seated at a good sized table without asking and had lunch. I would not recommend Vic’s to anyone and will never eat there again.

    April 30, 2013 at 5:36 PM

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*