Foodie recommendations in Pacoima are hard to come by, so it says a lot when a place that’s been around a month is on everybody’s must-try list.
Myke’s Cafe owner Rafael Andrade says the word-of-mouth buzz has been out of control. “One Life to Live” actress Florencia Lozano stopped by for Micheladas the other day (the “Mexican bloody Mary” on the menu comes regular or spicy), politician Richard Alarcón paid a visit, and an Arkansas resident even braved the barrio after flying into Burbank Airport and Yelping “pancakes.” He was not disappointed.
“I wanted it to be different but still very authentic,” says Andrade. When Andrade’s father, who has owned the building for 40 years, approached him about opening a restaurant, Andrade made sure to get the point across. He agreed to open a restaurant, but it would be on his terms and nothing like the previous eatery to occupy the space, a run-down mariscos place called El Azteca.
So in came the hot pink and unusual name spelling (pronounced my-kees after Andrade’s daughters, Mylisa and Kelsey). The burger topped with tortilla chips and set on a Portuguese bun. The carne asada fries with lengua, tripa or al pastor substitute options. And the red velvet pancakes.
Oh, the pancakes. The 17 different kinds are a treat anywhere, but especially on this side of the San Fernando Valley, where the toughest menu decision usually boils down to tortillas de maiz or harina.
“You come in and expect a place like this to be on Ventura Boulevard,” says Andrade. “It’s about bringing variety to the area.”
Andrade got his taste for variety when his youngest daughter dragged him to trendy cupcake shops. He tasted flavor after flavor and thought, “I can do better than this.” Soon enough, Andrade was baking cupcakes for school functions and family weddings. He was a hit and quickly deemed the “Cupcake Man.”
Now, Andrade brings that same confidence and curiosity to his pancakes; if something doesn’t sit quite well, he works until it’s perfect or takes it off the menu. But his customers haven’t been quite as fickle.
Most first-timers are lining up for the Southern red velvet pancake cooked with cinnamon and topped with cream cheese frosting; the homemade frosting alone is worth the order. The buttermilk pancakes with lemon curd and whipped cream are also big sellers, and kids are eating up the chocolate pancake with cocoa pebbles and powder sprinkled on top.
Andrade is still working out kinks in the expansive menu. The carne asada fries, served with nacho cheese and a light salsa, may leave you yearning for a grittier take on the San Diego classic. And the American breakfast items could use some attention, but, then again, with the pancakes and traditional Mexican food as solid as they are, Andrade has got nothing to worry about.
What: Myke’s Cafe
Where: 13171 Van Nuys Blvd., across the street from the new Frida mural
Hours: Monday-Sunday, 7 a.m.-8 p.m.
Rating: **** 4/5 stars on the standard scale, ***** 5/5 stars on the “hood good” scale
Try: any pancake depending on your preference; chocolate or red velvet for the sweets-inclined, fruit pancakes with lemon curd for a safe bet or bacon in buttermilk because, well, bacon
More information: Free wi-fi. Call 818.890.4815 for delivery.