A Moving Experience
Vicki's Eatery, in its new location in the former Elks Club, remains a must-go for breakfast and lunch.
We knew we were in for a good lunch at Vicki's Eatery the other day when, as we waited for a table at the packed, happily buzzing downtown Silver City restaurant, a man called after a departing woman (whose table we were hungrily eyeing), "Ma'am, you forgot your to-go box!" She smiled and replied, "Thanks, I know. I didn't use it — everything was so good I ate it all."
Vicki's has been frustrating the best intentions of customers with to-go boxes for years, serving breakfast, sandwiches both cold and grilled, wraps and salads that satisfy in a homey yet sophisticated way. The menu has evolved, but hasn't changed nearly as much as the eatery's ownership and location.
Greg Bond and wife MaryAnn Marlar moved to town and bought Vicki's from its namesake — including the recipes for such favorites as Vicki's German potato salad — in October 2004. They operated the small restaurant and its popular outdoor patio at the corner of Texas and Yankie until this fall, when the opportunity arose to relocate Vicki's to the former Elks Club just down the street at 315 N. Texas. The new digs offer expanded eating space indoors — a big plus in these colder months. (Although Vicki's still serves only breakfast and lunch, on Fridays and Saturdays building owner David Mulvenna turns the space into Pazzo Pizza — another place we're salivating to review.)
Vicki's new address seemed like a perfect excuse to treat ourselves to lunch. Once seated, we admired the works by local artists that adorn the walls, and debated the most accurate way to describe the lively color of the walls themselves. We'd just about settled on "cream of tomato soup" when our friendly, zippily efficient waitress brought our ice teas and asked if we were ready to order.
Well, that was more of a challenge than you might expect from a breakfast-and-lunch place, given the variety and mouth-watering descriptions on Vicki's menu. There are the sandwiches, of course ($5.25 to $8.25), which cover all the familiar basics: pastrami and provolone; turkey, ham or roast beef; BLT; club; grilled Reuben; grilled ham and Swiss. But we were tempted and torn before we got beyond the sandwich columns, especially given the innovative options also offered: veggie sandwich in a pita, Southwest chicken salad, cold or grilled "Cheez," turkey and havarti on sourdough with chutney (!), Italian mushroom melt, roast beef-mushroom melt. Then there's the classic Vicki's sandwich — grilled roast beef, havarti and green chile on garlic toasted sourdough. Or Greg's own menu addition of grilled marinated chicken breast, green chile and Swiss in a pita. Plus wraps and even a Greek gyro.
That Greek influence carried over to the next column of the menu, where a Greek Sampler ($8.95) promised everything from dolmas and hummus to grilled seasoned beef and lamb. Also meal-sized or big enough to split as an appetizer are the black bean and cheese quesadillas ($7.25).
Salads ($3.25 to $8.25) range from small garden greens to lunch-worthy Greek and Mediterranean salads, a chicken fajita salad, spinach salad with bacon and boiled egg, a guacamole-topped salad, and the Yankie Street Salad with blue cheese, cranberries and pecans. There's also a daily soup ($3.25 or $4.25 for a bowl, or $1 for a cup with a sandwich).
But we made a snap decision to try the green chile turkey melt and the turkey-bacon-avocado-Swiss melt grilled sandwiches, one with chips and salsa on the side and the second with that famous German potato salad. Neither of us was disappointed, though next time we may both have the potato salad, which looked awfully good. (Looked, we say, because our dining companion cleaned her plate before offering a taste.) Expecting a slab of turkey with a slice of chile we'd have to battle not to extract in a single bite, we were pleasantly surprised to find the turkey and chile chopped together before being cheesed. Just the right amount of heat, too, requiring an ice-tea refill but not a fire extinguisher. The second sandwich came on a lovely marbled rye, and contained enough bacon even for a one-time Iowan.
After those substantial sandwiches, we really didn't have room for dessert — but this was research, darnit! So we tried Greg's Famous Carrot Cake ($3.75) — a big, delightfully chewy, frosted square (hey, carrots are a vegetable, after all, so this was practically health food) — and the day's special peanut-butter pie. A just-right combination of sweet and slightly salty, generously drizzled with chocolate, the slice of pie vanished remarkably quickly for someone who was "full."
No, we didn't take home a to-go box (for what, the silverware?) either. But we did vow to return for Vicki's "Hearty Country Breakfast," with choices such as biscuits and sausage gravy, Eggs Benedict or Florentine, omelets ("You fill 'em"), pancakes, French toast and steak and eggs. Combos cost under $5, and steak and eggs is $10.49.
It's research, darnit!
— David A. Fryxell
Vicki's Eatery, 315 Texas St. (at Market), Silver City, 388-5430, is open Mon.-Sat. 7-10:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Sun. breakfast 8 a.m.-2 p.m.