YAKIMA, Wash. -- I never thought I’d be old enough to notice that a dollar doesn’t go as far as it did when I was a kid.
But now that I’m on the tail end of my fourth decade on the planet, that’s exactly what’s happened.
I fondly recall my mom picking me up from school every afternoon and giving me a dollar to use as I wished at our convenient neighborhood market. With that single bill, I was guaranteed to afford an Icee, a candy bar and a few pieces of Laffy Taffy. It wasn’t close to the equivalent of the paper sack Mom said she was able to fill for only a quarter when she was my age, but I feel like I did all right.
Especially when I consider how little I’m able to get for a dollar today. And the fact that even five bucks in 2018 won’t get me very much further.
So I was pleasantly surprised to discover there’s a cool spot on Fruitvale Boulevard where $4.69 will tickle my taste buds, fill up my belly and put a smile on my face.
It’s Smitty’s Log Cabin Cafe, where the Conoco gas pumps outside and a fully stocked convenience store are only red herrings that don’t give the slightest hint about the Big Breakfast Burrito you can order inside.
Walking through the entrance and turning left, you’ll find a cafe so inviting that you’ll feel like you’ve strutted straight into a snow-covered lodge.
Known for having something for everyone for the first two meals of the day, owner Rick Smith said the breakfast burritos are so popular that they’re gone just as soon as they’re made.
“We go through so many we have to make them ahead of time because they’ll sell out,” Smith said.
The staff typically makes 30 burritos every morning for the deli case, then continues with them made-to-order throughout the day.
They’ve got eggs, hash browns and cheese, and you get your choice of ham, bacon or sausage. For 75 cents more you can get extra meat, but I opted for the one thing I believe makes every breakfast the real deal: bacon.
After placing orders for me and the YH-R’s chief photographer, Shawn Gust, the woman through the window at the counter gave me a number and invited us to have a seat while we waited.
That’s when I had a chance to look around at my fellow customers — single men sporting boots, camo jackets and ski caps; a table filled with a family bundled up in warm clothes — and take in the kitschy, vintage appeal of the place.
Smith said he modified the interior to its current alpine theme about seven years ago. Skis and poles adorn the walls, and there are vintage posters by the restrooms.
Keeping with the authentic log cabin atmosphere, the wooden floor is scuffed and well-worn from steady foot traffic.
The shelves around the seating area are topped with skiing paraphernalia — boots and snow shoes — and there’s a frame encasing several badges.
“It’s always been the Log Cabin Cafe and it’s always been Smitty’s Conoco,” Smith said.
Opened in December 1984, Smith said the location also originally had a car rental business — which he sold about three years later — along with the store, the gas station and the cafe. But the main elements — including the menu — have remained pretty much the same.
Smitty’s is a great place to stop for folks on their way to Naches for a hike. Or to ski at White Pass, an idea punctuated by the framed newspaper articles dating back to the 1950s that are all about the opening of the popular destination.
“My parents were among the original people who started White Pass,” Smith said. “My mom had all these clippings, and that’s why I wanted to incorporate that, because they ate (at the cafe) almost every day.”
I don’t know if the breakfast burrito is something Smith’s parents regularly ate, but I like to think they did.
When a woman appeared to exchange our table’s number for two plates, I immediately saw this was going to be worth the wait. Plus, the burritos are huge.
When they arrived, steam was rising from the folds on either side of flour tortillas wrapped around thick portions of everything that makes the most important meal of the day complete.
They brought us flatware, which I needed because the burrito’s contents were hot. Also, the plastic cups filled with salsa were inviting us to smother the plates with everything inside.
If I’d gotten this baby on the go, I’d probably have to let it cool a bit before biting too far into the center, which is right where I want to be — that’s where all the ingredients really combine to make these affordable breakfast treats.
Wrapped up and ready to roll, the Big Breakfast Burritos really are a full meal steal for less than five bucks.
The only way I could’ve possibly made mine any better would have been to splurge the extra three quarters for even more meat.
But I was plenty satisfied with it just the way it was.
The place: Smitty’s Log Cabin Cafe, 3508 Fruitvale Blvd., Yakima; hours are 4:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Check out their website at www.loc8nearme.com/washington/yakima/smittys-cafe/4851097/ for more information.
The food: Big Breakfast Burrito, a burrito with eggs, hash browns, cheese, and ham, bacon or sausage.
The price: $4.69.
This story was updated on Sept. 13, 2018 with a link to Smitty's website.