Located in the heart of Pacoima, on Van Nuys, just a block north of Laurel Canyon Boulevard, is a café unlike any other. Serving Mexican food and original dishes such as red velvet pancakes and a ... Snickers burger?
Ralph Andrade, who's been cooking and baking for nearly 20 years, was asked by his father if he'd like to start a business at the location where the family's Mexican restaurant stood for four decades. Andrade took the challenge, and in the process came up with a "crazy menu with crazy concoctions" of dishes he used to make for his friends and family.
That was two years ago, in 2012, and the beginning of Andrade's restaurant serving up Mexican food, breakfast, hamburgers and dessert, known as Myke's Café (pronounced my-kees).
And the menu certainly is crazy - ranging from traditional Mexican dishes to creations from the depths of Andrade's mind. For example, the Bro Snicker Burger, which has Snickers and bacon mixed into the patty, "topped with cheddar cheese, bacon, lettuce, green apple and honey habanero aioli."
If that's not crazy enough, there's the Kong Burger Challenge, which is a four-patty burger with lettuce, tomato, American, pepper jack and Cheddar cheese, topped with bacon, jalapeño, onion rings, ranch dressing and egg. (You also get a Coke float and fries.) If you manage to consume this meal within 30 minutes, it's on the house. If not, it's $25 - a pretty good incentive to keep eating.
Andrade says Myke's niche is the pancakes. The menu boasts 20 variations of pancakes, taking up nearly an entire page. The best seller is the Notre Dame Killer, a red velvet pancake topped with cocoa powder, powdered sugar and cream cheese frosting. It's named after running back Anthony Davis, who was recruited out of San Fernando High School, just a couple miles away.
Myke's also has pancakes topped with lemon curd; and a chocolate pancake, covered in chocolate chips, crumbled Oreos and chocolate sauce.
Andrade updates the menu every three months with a new item. So what's next? He's thinking of a few things, including a "chorizo burger, monkey bread with gravy, and a maple bacon biscuit with gravy."
But, wait. Who is Myke? The name is a combination of Mylisa and Kelsey, two of Ralph's daughters. And the pink paint that gives the cafe's exterior its vibrant appearance was done for them.
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Speaking of names, a chalkboard calendar rising to the ceiling lists a name for every day: If you dine on your name day, your meal is free. And children who come in with good report cards get free pancakes.
Ralph's nephew David Andrade, who left a corporate job last year to handle the business side of Myke's, says, "We're not just selling food, we're selling happiness." True enough, if you're a pancake-loving kid who gets good grades. Or many of the rest of us, who now have a reason to head to Pacoima for breakfast or a Snickers burger, or whatever crazy dish Ralph Andrade dreams up next.