Café Retro serves hearty and classic comfort foods
Real-estate developer Ray Meyers says the Allentown neighborhood “always needed a nice restaurant,” so he decided to open one.
“I saw it as sort of an extension of myself,” says Meyers of the South Side, who enjoys old films and the bright colors of Miami décor.
The result is Café Retro, which opened in June on East Warrington Avenue. The cafe serves American diner favorites like hearty breakfasts and meat loaf and fried chicken for dinner, whipped up by cooks like Kathy Hartman of Carrick.
“I come from a Polish family,” says Hartman, 50, a Mt. Oliver native. “Both my grandmas were excellent cooks, and so was my mom.”
Hartman seems to have inherited the cooking gene. Having started as a substitute cook and waitress when Café Retro opened, she became the cook in August.
Entrees are not expensive at the diner, which offers the Atomic Steak Hoagie for $5.99 and the Retro Burger for $3.99 with fries. Breakfasts, which are available all day, are named for Earth, Venus, Mars and Jupiter and are $3.99 or $4.99. Three waffles, three pancakes or three slices of French toast each cost $2.49.
Café Retro features colorful-checked tablecloths and sunny-yellow walls adorned with posters, mostly of old movies. They include movie posters of “The Day the Earth Stood Still” and “Forbidden Planet,” which reaffirm the underlying space-age theme, and posters of mid-century icons Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe.
Meyers sometimes pitches in to help on weekends, or if there's a rush of customers during the week.
The diner started out as a breakfast and lunch spot, but lengthened its hours in October. That change gives Hartman the opportunity to offer more dinner-style entrees, such as her “secret-recipe” fried chicken.
“It's not greasy; it comes out perfect,” she says. “The seasoning seems to go through the whole chicken.”
“That chicken is so fantastic,” Meyers says. “I couldn't believe it. It was real mouth-watering.”
Diners can order the chicken as a dinner or a nine-piece chicken takeout for $11.99.
All dinners run $6.99, and feature meat, potatoes and a vegetable — the kind of hearty meals diners are famous for.
Now that the weather has cooled, Café Retro offers a different homemade soup each week.
“We are reasonable,” Meyers says. “It's not exactly a boom economy.”
The diner has seats for 36; an adjacent party room available for private parties seats another 50 people.
“The whole thing is providing a place with a nice atmosphere and good food,” Meyers says.
Sandra Fischione Donovan is a contributing writer to Trib Total Media.
Retro Cheesesteak Omelet
Café Retro cook Kathy Hartman has three sons who love cheesesteaks, and “are always cooking eggs.” Also the grandmother of one, Hartman came up with this unusual take on the omelet after putting her sons' culinary preferences together.
The result is a tasty combination of flavors that makes a savory, hearty meal.
Nonstick cooking spray
¼ cup sweet red bell and sweet green bell peppers and onions
3 large eggs
1 shaved steak (like a Steak-Um)
1 slice provolone cheese
Combination of salt, freshly ground black pepper, onion salt and garlic salt, to taste
Toast, for serving
Coat a nonstick omelet pan or skillet and a grill or second skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Place the peppers and onions on the grill to cook.
Scramble the eggs in a bowl.
Place the thin steak on the grill to brown. Season the steak with the spices. As the vegetables and steak grill, cut into pieces using a pancake turner or spatula (Photo 1).
Place the scrambled-egg mixture in the omelet pan. Mix the steak and vegetable pieces together and place on top of the scrambled-egg mixtur e. Break up the slice of provolone and place over the egg mixture (Photo 2).
As the omelet cooks, use a spatula to gently ease the cooked edges into the center of the omelet (Photo 3).
After the bottom sets, up-end the omelet onto the griddle or second skillet and let it cook as a circular omelet. When the omelet is cooked, flip one half of the omelet over the other (Photo 4). Turn onto a plate. Serve with toast.
Makes 1 serving.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penn State succumbs to No. 13 Ohio State in two overtimes
- Pitt notebook: Conner quietly surpasses 1,000 yards rushing
- Pittsburgh Mills mall stability questioned
- Springdale to get kayak launch, other riverfront improvements
- Butler County Historical Society acquires 1928 Austin C Cab Van
- Starkey: Chryst missed his only shot
- Penguins’ Crosby OK with Neal comments about trade
- Underestimated income to cost insured workers
- Pirates must weigh risk, reward in attempt to sign Martin
- Mini goes mainstream
- Penguins rebound with shutout of Predators