Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Mexicans in Strange Places

Polo’s Café
1255 Overland Ave.
Burley, ID
Visited September 8, 2010

This “Suits in Strange Places” gig isn’t as easy as it looks.

It takes a lot of work. And research.

But sometimes, no matter how many places you search high and low for tips on where to eat, you just have to wing it.

Like when you’re hungry in Burley, Idaho on a Wednesday morning.

If you are just driving around a strange town looking for an interesting place to check out, there are few rules I’ve learned.

First, get away from the interstate. Burley has its share of Taco Bells, McDonalds and Denny’s to avoid out near my hotel at the I-84 exit ramp. Go downtown, if there is one.

You want to look for a place that is crowded at meal time, preferably with a gravel parking lot full of pick up trucks and police cars. That always seems like a good omen.

Old fashioned neon signs are good too.

Oh, and large statues of animals on the roof is another sure sign of quality. Especially BBQ joints.

So based on those rudimentary criteria, Polo’s Cafe didn’t look too promising.

The place was practically empty. No anatomical animal parts on the roof. And the cheap aluminum sign said American & Mexican Cafe – and it was breakfast.

But throughout the entire bustling expanse that is downtown Burley, Idaho (about one and a half blocks) Polo’s was the only place open for business.

Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith. After all, that’s why God invented Pepto-Bismol, right?

Mexican food? For breakfast? In Idaho? At a place none of the locals seem interested in patronizing?

Such is the life of a Suit in Strange Places.

As I parked my rental car on Main St. and read the sign, I had one thing on my mind.

Huevos Rancheros. The Mexican breakfast of champions.

Now, I know in most parts of this country huevos rancheros isn’t exactly exotic.

But I live in a place where Mexicans are about as prevalent as vegans at a Ted Nugent concert.

As a matter of fact, this very morning, back home, my roof was being torn up and replaced. Not a Mexican among the crew.

If you can’t even find a Mexican to work on your roof, you’re not going to have too many huevos rancheros options either.

While I always look forward to the opportunity to sample huevos rancheros in my travels, sometime I have to admit, I find the dish a little boring.

At its simplest, huevos rancheros is just beans, eggs, cheese and salsa over a tortilla. In fact, in its purest form, it is always – God forbid – meatless.

But not Polo’s version.

This one featured a thick layer of spicy chorizo (Mexican sausage for you gringos) between the tortilla and the eggs.

Maybe I’m a little biased. I enjoy spicy food and consider myself something of a sausage connoisseur. But this had to be one of the best versions of huevos rancheros I’ve ever had.

The over-easy eggs were perfect, sprinkled with peppers, salsa and melted cheese. The beans, cheese and corn tortillas were a perfect counter-balance to the jalapeño bite of the chorizo.

Polo’s isn’t anything fancy. It’s not quirky in the least. I had the place to myself.

No, you’re not going to find Polo’s Café featured on the next segment of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

But Polo’s confirmed that sometimes those little leaps of faith can pay off with something good you just can’t get back home.

Even on a Wednesday morning in downtown Burley, Idaho.

Rating: Seriously Thought About Buying Shirt.
Polo's on Urbanspoon


  1. Best Mexican I ever had was at a place in Postville, Iowa.

  2. What's the place? Suits are always looking for new places to review . . .