I'm working on completing the McHenry County breakfast stop circuit and the next logically place to go was Tony's Cafe, which juts out from a strip mall not far from Crystal Lake South High School off McHenry Avenue in Crystal Lake.
It was a lunch stop, but that doesn't impact the menu options because - as its website states - Tony's Cafe serves breakfast all day.
The lunch options include 17 sandwiches, everything from reuben ($10.99) to Monte cristo ($10.29) to a crab/tuna/chicken/egg salad sandwich ($9.49) to a tomato and bacon grilled cheese ($9.99).
Then there are 10 specialty salads, options of pitas, tacos or wraps and nine burgers, from the Little Piggy Burger ($11.79) to the Big Bad Wolf ($13.99). Both start with 1/2-pound patties while the piggy has two strips of bacon with lettuce, tomato, onion and cheese. The wolf has a pile of bacon with ham, a fried egg, a thick onion ring and cheddar cheese.
The Best of the Fox award on the front of the menu, however, is all about breakfast and being one of the best omelettes, so my fellow diner went in that direction, picking out the Popeye omelette ($9.99).
Tony's is all about the veggie options, from the veggie omelette to the seafood asparagus benedict ($11.99), one of seven benedict options that also includes a garden-style option.
The Popeye omelette was cooked to perfection, from its creamy Swiss cheese filling to the spinach, which had a good texture and wasn't overcooked like can happen. The bacon was a great complement but the cheese filling made the dish. Sometimes Swiss cheese doesn't melt down well, but Tony's made it happen right.
I looked over all of the skillet options, hovering on the chorizo skillet ($9.89) and andouille cajun skillet ($10.49) before going with the Cadillac option, the ribeye skillet ($15.99).
Like my fellow diner, I selected a couple of pancakes on the side instead of toast. So it was a load of food.
But wow, was that skillet delicious. The eight-ounce ribeye was cooked just right and chopped up with the hash browns, onions, peppers and mozzarella before being topped with three eggs over easy.
I sunk my fork in and the yolk drizzled down into the pile of food below creating just the right combination of meat, potatoes, cheese and flavor. I could get used to eating that hefty dish every morning, but it would probably start to show on my waistline eventually, especially with two pancakes and syrup on the side.
We both left happy, well fed and ready for the afternoon of work ahead. Tony's certainly did its part.
• The Mystery Diner is an employee at the Northwest Herald. The diner’s identity is not revealed to restaurant staff before or during the meal. The Mystery Diner visits a restaurant and then reports on the experience. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not publish a story.
WHAT: Tony's Cafe
WHERE: 1030 S McHenry Ave., Crystal Lake
WHEN: 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday through Thursday, 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday
INFORMATION: Call 815-477-8118 or tonyscafebreakfastallday.com.