Take a seat at the counter after entering the café through Flavio’s porch. If you’re lucky, Irene will meet you with a cup of coffee and a “how you doin’ hun?” The café offers breakfast and lunch all day, every day. Their menu is a mix of standard breakfast fare, filling lunch sandwiches and a few surprises. It’s fast, plentiful, hardy, diner food. The perfect examples are the biscuits and gravy off the breakfast menu ($1.95 & $2.95). They’re everything a hash house connoisseur hopes for. The biscuits are light, buttery and un-hockey puck like. The gravy had that perfect nappé consistency and a sausage-with-gravy-not-gravy-with-sausage character.
The Hot Cakes & Griddled Items ($2.75-$4.75) are just passable. The omelets however ($4.75-$6.55) are a three-egg, fluffy affair with choices aplenty – everything from the plain to the classic Denver overflowing with ham, onions, and green bell peppers to the Steak Fajita snuggled next to a mound of rice, beans and tortillas. Pilots will find something unexpected. The restaurant knows its clientele. On a recent visit, heaping, steaming bowls of menudo ($5.25 & $6.25) constantly came flying out of the kitchen pass through. The broth has a hint of kick from the hot chile, a slight herbaciousness from the oregano and a great balance of chucky tripe and hominy. The only thing missing was a loaf of bolillo traditionally served on the side and the morning after hangover.
The Hot Sandwiches and House Specialties stand out on the lunch side. Burgers ($4.25-$5.95) and club sandwiches ($5.75-$6.25) are available if you must. A much better choice is the hot combo sandwich of sliced turkey breast loaf with tomato, bacon and Swiss on sourdough ($5.95). Even better is the hot meatloaf sandwich with potatoes and gravy ($5.95). It’s the kind of meatloaf sandwich that mathematically adds up to more than it component parts. It one of those sandwiches that is a balance of textures and flavors that both complement and contrast. Moist and flavorful and not just a hamburger stuffed in a loaf pan.
Flabob Airport Café does have what some what some may call drawbacks. It isn’t open for dinner like the D&D Airport Café at Riverside Municipal. It isn’t apologetic about its blue collar, army barracks ambiance and its stick-to-your-ribs cuisine. While D&D also offers a solid yet predictable menu of diner staples, the Flabob Café has a quality that makes you believe in the true meaning of nostalgia. Come on the right day and you might be lucky enough to sit next to Flavio’s son Don, Ray Stits and his wife Edie or Tom Wathen. I’m sure the stories and lies swapped are worth the price of 100LL.
Note: For a detailed history of The Flabob Café, see A Living Legacy for Sport Aviation by By John D. Lyon and David Gustafson.
Flabob Airport Café
4130 Mennes Avenue
Riverside, CA. 92509
Phone: (951) 686-6660
Hours: Open every day
7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The Wathen Foundation
A nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation Dedicated to preserving the history of Flabob and encouraging new involvement in aviation.
The above airport information is not for navigational purposes. Please obtain up-to-date airport information from the FAA before flight.