Two Decades of Delight at Breakaway Café

Breakaway Cafe's famous pot roast.

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Two Decades of Delight at Breakaway Café

At the Breakaway Café in Sonoma, a big, heaping helping of pot roast comes complete with soup or salad, a mountain of mashed potatoes, and dessert of gelato or sorbet ($15).

On Fridays, the deal is two grilled mahi mahi tacos dressed in pineapple salsa and chipotle aioli with cabbage/black bean/ corn slaw ($9.50), and you can round out your meal with a grilled prawn and guacamole cocktail ($9.50) plus a fresh lime margarita for $5.

But the best bargain may be the build-it-your-way cheeseburger, starting with a 1/3-pound of freshly ground chuck (or a veggie patty) draped in melted Swiss, jack, cheddar or blue cheese, lettuce, red onion and pickle with a heap of hand-cut Kennebec fries. It's $6 everyday, and you add on as many goodies as you like for just $1 each — bacon, avocado, guacamole, grilled mushrooms and such.

As might be guessed, this a home-style place, with an upscale coffee shop/bistro kind of coziness in its building parked on Sonoma Highway at Verano Avenue. But Breakaway has been a landmark in Sonoma Valley for nearly 20 years, and it remains a true locals' secret, lovingly cared for by owner Bob Rice.

For breakfast, we love the machaca con huevos made with pork and zippy pasilla peppers ($7.75), or the banana pecan waffle that's almost dessert, slathered in orange-honey butter ($8.25).

At weekend brunch, we start with a killer bloody Mary ($7.75), kicked up with eye-opening spice, then get fancy with a smoked salmon and avocado Benedict ($13.50).

Rice was the former chef at the Glen Ellen Inn, and so at lunch, alongside that classic double decker turkey club ($11.95), he puts together a beautiful Nicoise salad tossing grilled yellow fin tuna, mixed greens, Blue Lake beans, red potato, hard boiled egg and tomato in lemon caper vinaigrette ($14.50).

At dinner, he really dresses things up, with the dining room lights dimmed, microbrews on tap, a full cocktail bar and Sonoma wines brimming by the glass.

A few favorites include jambalaya plump with prawns, Andouille sausage, chicken, spicy Spanish rice, peppers and onions ($15.95) or pan-seared wild salmon with roasted fingerling potatoes and sautéed spinach over roasted heirloom tomato coulis $18).

Save room for dessert, such as homemade cheesecake or key-lime pie.

Then, don't be surprised if you wake up the next morning, ready to head right back to Breakaway for breakfast. Cooking this good is addictive.

Details: Breakaway Café, 19101 Sonoma Highway, Sonoma, 707-996-5949,

Carey Sweet