I adhere to the suggestion stamped on a pink, phosphorescent sign and seat myself. Not a minute later, owner Rafael Aldana is at my booth with a menu.
Aldana took over the space—formerly an Irish bar by the name of Green Onion Tavern—two-and-a-half years ago. By his own admission, lunch is Sunshine’s forte, but he says their “classic breakfast plates” are tried and true.
I become mesmerized by the promise of plates like the chile relleno omelet ($7.99); the more-gangster-than-a-burrito breakfast quesadilla ($7.95) and—wait for it—the pancake sandwich: two buttermilk pancakes with sausage and an egg for $6.50. Intrigued, I opt for the sandwich and pair it with a glass of freshly squeezed OJ ($2.25) and a side of what apparently holds every other dish together—home potatoes ($2.50).
I take a minute to soak in the sights. Smiley ceramic suns commingle with heart decals left over from Valentine’s Day, and a prerequisite poster depiction of mighty warrior (and future volcano) Popocatépetl carrying princess Iztaccíhuatl proudly hangs.
Throw in a movie night to complete the trifecta, and Sunrise would be ripe for a special episode of the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.
Several remnants of the ol’ Grunion remain, like its wooden rails, Technicolor bottles of Jarritos and Fanta gingerly placed on mirror-backed shelves where the haunt’s former top-tier liquor once stood and, the pièce de résistance, a huge satellite dish, once adorned with a shamrock, is now transformed into a Paul Bunyan-sized bacon and eggs plate.
It was created by Santa Fe Community College students who, according to Aldana, “were studying art or I don’t know what.” The budding, mysterious artists are also responsible for the establishment’s outdoor murals depicting New Mexico life.
I’m sitting directly across from the cash register and a Snickers vending station emblazoned with the chocolate bar’s slogan, “You’re not you when you’re hungry.” The words have never rung truer.
My grub arrives fleetly and is fit for a rey.
I’m slightly disappointed that the sandwich is build-your-own, as the sausage patties and egg come on a separate plate, but flavor makes up for any preconceived county fair fantasy.
The over-medium egg is just right, engulfing my sausage in yolky goo with one sharp stab. The taters have quite a kick to them, a result of equal amounts of seasoning salt and paprika. The pancakes? Absolute perfection. They looked like they were plucked from a Bisquick commercial. Fluffy and thick, they could be a full meal in themselves.
Continuing the royal treatment, Aldana brings over a salsa sampler plate containing fiery red and a stewy green that’s second to none.
I take my time, enjoying every savory, symphonic bite. Some 10 minutes into it, I began to feel like my old self again.
Open: Daily, 7 am-3 pm
Serving: “Classic” breakfast with a punch
Order-up: Quicker than you can say “Popocatépetl”
Best bet: The pancake sandwich