Hidden Gems: Bon’s Off Broadway

Photo:  cellphotography | Flickr

Photo: cellphotography | Flickr

Everybody loves a fancy breakfast—hollandaise sauce, maple syrup, diced fruit, freshly-squeezed orange juice, espresso— all the fixings. Is your mouth watering yet? Mine too. That said, there’s also a place in most of our hearts for the classic, greasy spoon breakfast.  You know the kind I mean: two eggs, sausage or bacon, home fries, and weak coffee that you drink by the litre. Does this kind of breakfast pack the same taste or nutritional punch as its more elaborate counterparts? Of course not. But that doesn’t diminish our love for it. There’s a beauty in the simplicity of this classic meal: the no frills, no nonsense, hot-off –the-stove breakfast you find at diners all across North America.

Perhaps no restaurant provides this version of the most important meal of the day better than Bon’s Off Broadway. I imagine that claim might garner some disagreement. And really, that’s to be expected. Bon’s is, after all, a polarizing place. If you walk through its battered  front doors expecting an elaborate meal, fast service, and tidy tables, well, you might be disappointed. Bon’s is no Michelin star recipient. It does, however, have its strengths. The most obvious of those strengths? Some seriously delicious, seriously cheap, breakfast. Allow me to elaborate.

At Bon’s, a mere $2.95 will buy you a heaping portion of breakfast in the most classic sense, served on mismatched plates atop well-used tables. Tack a dollar onto that bill, and you’ll enjoy unlimited coffee too, steaming in mugs that don’t quite fit on the cup-plates provided. Those prices can simply not be argued with.

Photo:  kynan tait | Flickr

Photo: kynan tait | Flickr

But the Bon’s experience doesn’t end there. At this East Van hole in the wall, you’ll eat your splendidly simple breakfast with a backdrop of graffiti-covered walls. I’m not talking about a tag or scribble here or there. I’m talking about blankets of paint, bearing messages sincere and strange, crude and contemplative. Truly, the walls at Bon’s appear better suited for a New York City train yard than a breakfast joint. But just like the lonely jukebox by the door, the tattered movie posters on the walls and the barred windows, the graffiti contributes to the amazing atmosphere of the place.

The point here is that while Bon’s is not the kind of place you’ll read about in glossy-paged food magazines, it has charm. It’s got character. Bon’s, in all its rough-and-ready glory, is an experience— and a seriously popular one, I should add.

The Walls at Bon's

The Walls at Bon’s

Yes, the combination of the restaurant’s frugal menu and zany vibe has turned it into an serious hot spot. Need proof? Waltz in on a Saturday or Sunday morning. Will you be seated? Of course, but it’ll take some waiting, shoulder-to-shoulder with the hordes of hungry and hungover who had the same idea as you. And when you are seated, don’t expect special treatment. The servers at Bon’s are absolute work-horses. Banter takes a backseat to business, but that’s a good thing. If the staff stopped to smell the roses with every guest, every morning, nobody would ever eat. It really does get that busy.

It’s also worth mentioning that beyond their classic breakfast deal, Bon’s also has an array of other delicious menu items. They have great pancakes. They have scrumptious soups and solid fish and chips. And of course, they’ve got beer. They’re only until 9:00pm, but until then, Bon’s is a dynamite destination for brews on a budget.

The moral of this story? If you’ve got a craving for comfort food, or you’re simply looking for something different, head down to Broadway and Nanaimo, and walk on into Bon’s.  Write your name on the wall. Give the jukebox some attention. Appreciate the baffling breadth of the clientele. Will you be blown away by complex flavours and spectacular service? No. But you’ll experience a true staple of East Van, first hand, and you’ll leave with a full stomach, and a full wallet. That, dear friends, is the beauty of Bon’s off Broadway.

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