Good diners are like the bar in Cheers, it seems like everybody knows your name. At the Express Cafe in Meridian, you constantly hear customers greeted by name by the staff and vice versa, hellos to other guests as diners walk in and a general extremely friendly atmosphere. Part of it comes from the staff; Manager Rikki has been there since 1999, brought in by her mother who herself was the manager for many years starting in 1996. Owner Ken is celebrating his 30th anniversary of the Express Cafe, which says something about not only the welcoming atmosphere but also about the food that keeps bringing people back for breakfast and lunch.
The menu includes some good breakfasts on it, with breakfast being a very popular item at the Express Cafe. A Veggie Omelet comes with perfectly cooked hash browns and toast or a plain Belgian waffle. On any item, country fried potatoes can be substituted for the hash browns. Other options for breakfast include Chicken Fried Steak and Eggs, French Toast, pancakes and many versions of omelets and breakfast burritos. Breakfast and lunch are served all day, so there is no worry that you can’t get your favorite breakfast in the early afternoon.
For lunch at the Express Cafe in Meridian, there is a wide range of sandwiches, burgers and salads. There are also some really good entrees to be had. The Chicken Fried Steak appears as an entree, with one of the sides being some of the best mashed potatoes on this side of Idaho. A nice cream sausage gravy coats the nicely fried tender steak, with a nice kick to the spice level. Garlic toast also comes with ‘basket’. For just a little bit more, bigger eaters can get the ‘dinner’, which adds an extra side. Sides include a dinner salad, tater tots, fries (tater sticks), soup and onion rings. Another good entree is the Finger Steaks, the Boise specialty that is nicely fried and served with a zippy cocktail sauce and the same choices of sides.
Burger choices are excellent, with the burgers using a quality 1/3 Angus beef patty. The Mushrooom Swiss Burger is piled high with delicious sauteed mushrooms, the cheese melted perfectly over the earthy mushrooms. The patty is nice and juicy, cooked just right. The Jalapeño Burger puts a nice helping of peppers beneath a slice of pepper jack cheese. All burgers, as well as sandwiches, come with a choice of sides. For something different, the Taco Salad is huge. The basket shaped fried wheat tortilla is piled high with greens, tomatoes, onions, beef or chicken and sour cream, with plenty of salsa to spice things up.
Seating at the Express Cafe is plentiful, with plenty of booths and several long tables which are good for either larger groups or, during busy times, several small groups. A great way to know your neighbors! Service is fast and efficient with the smiling waitstaff always nearby to top off drinks. Overall, the Express Cafe in Meridian is a great neighborhood place, a place where you quickly can get accustomed to going to on a regular basis for delicious, quality food.
400 E. Fairview Avenue
Photo gallery below. All photos by Ed Simon for The Boise Beat.