Admit it. You've thought about Doubling Down at KFC. If you're not that risky, Washington Street Diner features its own bread-substitute sandwich concept, the Breakfast Melt ($7.75). Two potato pancakes cuddle a pile of grilled corned beef slathered in Swiss cheese and two over-easy eggs. The runny eggs saturate the happy wreck of this faux-sandwich (an a.m. riff on a Reuben), making it a definite fork-and-knife enterprise. Skewer all four elements in one mouthful for a salty, juicy, meat-and-potatoes bite. Owner Dan Fromson inherited the popular recipe from the diner's previous owner and knew when to leave well enough alone.
Side Dish: Trendy touches, such as minimalist decor and sleek metal seating, don't stop this diner from maintaining a traditional feel. "I'd say 80 percent of our customers are regulars," Fromson says. "It's just fun to hang out here."
8233 E. Washington St., Chagrin Falls, 440-543-0436
BANANAS FRENCH TOAST
Yasoo's owner, John Michaels, tasted bananas flambé during a Vegas vacation and morphed the dessert into one mighty decadent breakfast treat. Encased in a cocoon of sweetness — not quite as thick as a syrup coating but leagues beyond the ordinary butter batter swiped across white toast — these slices of gooey French toast ($5.99) ferry a savory, rich cinnamon and brown sugar sauce to the waiting mouth. Bananas, practically melting into the bread, are sauteed in the same homemade sauce, a mixture that gets its vigor from a dash of fresh-squeezed orange juice. The menu at Yasoo has everything from chef Andre's Barn Buster (home fries topped with biscuits, eggs, sausage gravy and cheese) to a corned beef hash crepe. "Our thing is, everything is homemade," says manager Andrew Johnson. Home fries are sliced and steamed daily; veggies are chopped fresh; even the lemonade is made from scratch. Thank goodness not everything that happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
Side Dish: At lunch, the restaurant becomes the Hamburger Station. Have the sliders.
3275 State Road, Cuyahoga Falls, 330-920-1036
Jim's Open Kitchen
A cooking line right behind the counter lends itself to more than a free show with your meal. At Jim's Open Kitchen it meant the creation of a signature dish when regular Herb Nelson suggested the cook add some home fries to his eggs. "It started with eggs, cheese and onion 50 years ago," says co-owner Kathleen Lawson of the garbage-plate-style dish aptly named the Herb Nelson. "Finally we reached the Ultimate Herb Nelson 10 years ago." In no neat or orderly fashion, eggs and home fries are scrambled on the grill with onion, green pepper, tomato, mushroom, cheese, sausage, ham and bacon ($7.75) in an intimidating-sounding dish that tastes like a mixed-up version of an everything omelet but with less egg filler. "It's a pretty big plate, but people don't have trouble finishing it," Lawson says.
Side Dish: Verbal communication is key at this 52-year-old diner. Don't expect to see a server hand the cook an order ticket — they yell. "We're old-school," Lawson says. "We call our orders in. We don't take credit cards, just cash. It's just the way it works."
33779 Aurora Road, Solon, 440-349-1678, jimsopenkitchen.com