My Town Monday: Where the Stars Come out for Brunch

Last week for Mothers’ Day, my husband and daughter took me out for brunch at my favorite place for breakfast – The Golden Nugget Pancake House. Not to be confused with the Chicago-based chain of the same name, the Golden Nugget’s been in the Dayton area since the early 60’s. They don’t have a website, so I wasn’t able to easily check exactly when it first opened, but it’s been a fixture on the south side of town ever since. With its retro-diner decor, hearty portions, plain and simple but delicious coffee, and paper coasters that haven’t changed since I can remember, it’s like a tasty trip back in time.

The paper coasters featuring "Goldie" the burro haven't changed since the 60s

I can remember going to the Golden Nugget with my grandparents when I was little in the early 70s. I vaguely remember the exterior looking like the postcard above, although I don’t remember the interior being those colors – I remember the chairs and booths being a 1950s aqua blue, which they were until the building burned down in 2006. Thankfully, they rebuilt it, with an updated look that still has a retro flair.

It became a regular spot for me after I graduated from college. There’s nothing better after a night out partying, if you can hack the 1/2-hour or longer wait. Back then, there was no waiting area in the restaurant, just a long vestibule along the front. On weekends, the line would fill that area, and wrap around the building. If there were only two of you, and you were at the back corner of the building, the wait was 30-40 minutes. Once you got inside, it was about 15. And it was totally worth it. Unsurprising since “Pancake House” is part of the name, there’s a good variety of pancakes available, although not what you’d get from some of the larger chains. My favorite is cinnamon pancakes with apples. They also offer this in French toast, which was what I had last week. Yum! The coffee’s fantastic – strong, but not bitter. They use Superior coffee, which from what I understand, is a common offering from restaurant supply services. But nowhere else does it taste like at the ‘Nug (as my friends and I affectionately called it). The servers are very conscious of coffee, too – it’s unusual for your cup to be empty.

The Golden Nugget today

I also went there for lunch occasionally, since I worked down the street for my first “real” job. Lunch is good, too – basic stuff like burgers, grilled cheese, and soups. My favorite was broccoli cheese soup. I had a coworker who ate lunch there every day. The main reason was she was a coffee fanatic, and loved the friendly wait staff who always kept her cup full. She almost always got the same thing to eat: fried mush. I tried it once, and it was good, but not being a real Southerner, I can’t vouch for it. I can vouch for the biscuit and gravy though – awesome, and a sure ticket to a food coma!

My coworker also saw some interesting people there. Once, she saw Andre the Giant when WWE (or back then, WWF) was in town. She’s also seen Rob Lowe and Martin Sheen there, who are both from Dayton. I’ve never seen anyone famous there, but the food and coffee’s enough to make me come back, and even brave the line occasionally.

So now you know where to go for breakfast or lunch if you’re in the area! The Golden Nugget doesn’t have a website, but they are on Facebook. If you’re from around here, do you have any Golden Nugget memories to share? If you’re not, what’s your favorite place in your hometown? I’d love to hear from you – please comment and let me know!

16 Responses to \

  1. Calgary is a city that is constantly changing. there isn’t one restaurant, outside of the big chains that I can think of, that was here when I was a kid. hotels have changed hands too. interesting, Jennette. Now I’m going to have to do some research.

  2. Rob Lowe and Martin Sheen are from Dayton?! Some cities have all the luck.

    I love many diners in my native NJ but have lived in Texas for thirty+ years and now crave breakfasts with the kick of salsa and chorizo. Still, next time I visit my parents, I’m going to stop at the Tick-Tock Diner.

  3. Is there only one Golden Nugget – the one on Dixie? I went there a couple of times, back when my son was in the Scouts. I keep forgetting it’s there, or I might have gone there for Mother’s Day (although I’m sure the line was probably long, huh?). I’ll have to give it a try again!

  4. Makes me hungry. We have a place called the Waffle House near where I live that my husband and I like to frequent. It used to be a Sambo’s (or Little Black Sambo’s back in the days when we could still use those names). The booths are still the same orange naugahide (? sp) and the tables and counters and stools are the originals. It’s not fancy, but it’s excellent and clean. Large portions, fast and friendly service. We love to go there, but hesitate to refer our friends because it’s so dated inside and out. It’s probably not the kind of place we’d take a chance on in an unfamiliar town, but here at home, we love it!

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  5. I used to go there with Chris sometimes when you and I worked together. We saw Chad Lowe there but that was before he was famous. Loved their food. I haven’t been there in probably 5 years. Will have to go again soon. Thanks for reminding me.

  6. I love the Golden nugget! I used to eat there all the time when I worked for NCR!

  7. Louise, The Golden Nugget is one of the few things that hasn’t changed – it’s great! I’ll be interested to see what you find in Calgary.

    Coleen, awesome, right? Thanks for stopping by!

    Pat, there are more – I was surprised when I found out some of the famous people from around here. Who knew? And doesn’t everything have to come with salsa in TX? 🙂

    Stacy, there used to be another Golden Nugget (same owners) on Keowee north Dayton. When my college roommate moved to Huber Heights, we used to meet at that one because it was halfway. It’s something else now. The wait at the Nug was about 45 min. on Mothers’ Day, but worth it!

    Patricia – we used to have a Sambo’s around here too. I think it later became Denny’s. And I’m LOL remembering the time when my grandparents got into a big argument over whether it was “Sambo’s” or “Little Black Sambo’s” (this was in the early 70’s). I’m pretty sure it was just Sambo’s by then!

    Missy! Can’t forget Chris and her fried mush! 😀 Some fun times, for sure! Thanks for commenting!

    Lorie, that’s one thing I missed when I changed jobs, too. Thanks for stopping by!

  8. Okay, so where is that Golden Nugget? I must be thinking of the one on Keowee, instead.

    I guess I could always look it up in the phone book, huh? 🙂

  9. LOL I didn’t think to put the address! I figured everyone either knew or was from out of town! It’s at the corner of South Dixie and Dorothy Lane in Kettering, across from Wal-Mart. I don’t know how long the one on Keowee’s been gone; my friend I used to meet up with there moved away in ’96!

  10. Oh, I love breakfast food. I live in a town that always has a new restaurant, but they never seem to last too long. At least not the ones I go to. My current favorite is a family owned local chain called Biscuits. I can’t actually biscuits, but they have great egg dishes. I’m told the pancakes are good, too. I just think going out to breakfast, almost anywhere is fun. Although, a meal at Sherry’s will usually punish me later. 🙂

  11. How awesome that your hometown still has a place dating back to your childhood. We have one restaurant that I visited almost 20 years ago when my much older cousin got married. And my corner store has been around since 70s.

  12. Emma, the Golden Nugget has great egg dishes, too! Especially one with eggs and ham over croissant with Hollandaise sauce. I think that’s been on their specials board for over 20 years. Delicious – and a sure food coma!

    Maria, I like First Watch, too! The wait time’s pretty similar to the Golden Nugget. 🙂

    Reetta, we have quite a few long-standing restaurants! Sadly, one of my favorites, an Italian place called Dominic’s, closed a few years ago. Thanks for stopping by!