Monday, January 18, 2016

Blast From the Past at Galley Cafe

Galley Cafe
829 Harbor Island Dr.
Newport Beach, CA 92660

Some people do not believe in time machines. I'm here to tell you that they do exist though, in the form of restaurants. There are some restaurants where if you closed your eyes, put away your cell phone, forgot about the upcoming presidential election, and wiped your mind clean of ever hearing about the new Star Wars movie, you would swear that you were picked up and placed in another decade.

Restaurants like this are rare, but they are around. Five Crowns, Mrs. Knott's Chicken House, Watson's Soda Fountain, and the Crab Cooker are all pretty good examples of OC restaurants that have not changed in all their many decades of being in business. Sure they may have added a few items to their menu, or maybe remodeled their decor a bit, but these are pretty much the same as they are today, as when they started. You can add one more restaurant to this list, Galley Cafe in Newport Beach.

Galley Cafe has been around since 1957, and not much has changed since then. This small diner sits in the middle of a residential area, close to the road that takes you to Balboa Island. It's not a big restaurant, with only 10 or so tables, and some counter seating available. The Galley Cafe brings to mind Ruby's on the Balboa Pier, back before they became corporate. The nostalgia is not pushed on you like it is at Ruby's, but you definitely know this restaurant has been here forever.

Owned by the same people that now run Wings Cafe at the Fullerton Airport, the menu is not going to shock you with its creativity, but it brings plenty of people to this out of the way location. The menu is dotted with the standard breakfast items, sandwiches, burgers, and plenty of ice cream specialties. It was a little too early for us to try their famous shakes and malts, so we made our breakfast selections rather quickly, and waited for our food to make an appearance, as we enjoyed the view from our booth of the Balboa Yacht Basin and Beacon Bay beyond that.

My dad starts things off for us with this Omewich ($10.55). Equal parts omelette and patty melt, this uses a third pound beef patty with cheese, and an omelette, sandwiched in between two slices of toasted white bread. I could tell my dad liked this, but was not in love with it. He said he'd probably get the chili cheese omelette on his next visit here. This came with one side item, and he went with the unusual choice of cottage cheese. Odd, but he's never been the kind of guy to follow the crowd.

My mom likes her first meal of the day to be pretty basic, and that held true to form here at the Galley Cafe, when she ordered this One Egg Breakfast ($8). Really not much to talk about here, as this was a solid breakfast with three strips of bacon, an over hard egg, and a good sized helping of hash browns. A solid breakfast, but not one that is going to blow too many people away.

I should have taken a picture of the inside of this Breakfast Burrito ($9.99), but I didn't want to halt Katie's progress on it anymore than I usually do. This was a pretty basic breakfast burrito. Eggs, bacon, and cheese on the inside, and for a walk on the wild side, she used the provided pico de gallo. She had no complaints about this breakfast burrito, and was actually surprised that it was as good as it was, for only having three things in it. It kept her satisfied until dinner.

This place came across my radar when the OC Weekly rated the Galley Cafe as having one of the best chicken fried steaks in the county. That was all I had to hear to make me order this. This Country Fried Steak ($11) came with two eggs and hash browns. Was this the best country fried steak I have had? It was not, but it was definitely better than most. The meat was good, but what made this for me was their very tasty gravy, which had a great consistency to it, and would have been great on anything.

Galley Cafe is a great place to come if you want to relive the past, and want to get away from the present for an hour or two. The breakfast food here is all very solid, and you will leave here satisfied, but not blown away. I thought the prices were more than fair for the amount of food that you get. I'd be interested to see how their burgers and ice cream treats are on my next visit. The service here was nice and relaxed while we were here. Be aware that this is a small restaurant, and during peak times there might be a wait, but the do get the food out rather fast, so it should not be too long before you can dig into your food. Glad there are still restaurants like this around OC, places where you can decompress from modern life.

Out of five oars, (because this is how galley ships were powered back in the day), five being best to zero being worst, the Galley Cafe gets 3 oars.

For more information about the Galley Cafe, go to their website here:

Galley Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


  1. The chili-cheese omelette is why people drive out of the way to go to the Galley - legendary!

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  3. Byrens - I'm bummed that we did not get to try it. My dad was all set to get it, but then he changed his mind. I guess we'll have to make another trip out there. Thanks for taking the time to read the blog.

    1. Very cool that you wrote about this way off the beaten path restaurant....thanks

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