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(Covid Update Dec 2021 – in business Review updated 1/3/15) Cafe 72 has been open for years in its pleasant little location near the Trenton/Mercer Airport, going through several changes of ownership though always retaining the same name. Two years ago, it was purchased by the owners of Cugino’s Italian Specialties (at Pennington Circle), and now it does a brisk breakfast and lunch business.
Let’s face it, there’s not a lot of great breakfast in Trenton. Sure there are some diners (such as Mastoris and Pat’s) and other assorted options (you can view them all by clicking on our breakfast tag), but finding a place that goes beyond the breakfast basics (eggs, pancakes, omelettes, bacon) is rare. That’s what makes Cafe 72 unique. Despite it’s casual luncheonette atmosphere and bargain prices, it is aiming to higher culinary heights (if not always achieving them). What are we talking about? Think Belgian waffles filled with sun-dried figs and topped with blueberry chutney and cannoli cream, cajun-seasoned shrimp and creamy grits with onions, peppers and finished with a sunny side up egg (pictured at right), or portobello mushroom towers with sliced tomato, poached eggs, provolone, and basil hollandaise (pictured above). The menu is supplemented by a variety of specials; on a recent visit we sampled the fresh ricotta donuts with blueberry chutney (pictured above), and boy were they fresh.
It’s best to call ahead for a reservation, especially on a weekend. There isn’t much space inside to wait for your table, so you may end up waiting outside, where they have some ineffective outdoor heaters and plenty of complimentary coffee. The atmosphere is casual enough that you can bring a family, but certainly a step above the traditional diner decor. They are also open for lunch (with a variety of sandwiches, burgers, and grilled cheeses, as well as some standard-looking salads. We haven’t yet sampled the new lunch menu, so if you’ve been there feel free to include a comment.
Prices are excellent, everything is several dollars cheaper than what you’d find for a comparable meal in Princeton, Philly, or NYC. Though the plating is pleasant and the food is inventive, the meal isn’t transcendent. This is better than an average diner, but fine dining it isn’t. The proportions of the individual components aren’t always quite in balance, the potatoes aren’t perfectly seasoned, and the flavors don’t always pop. But the food is fresh, the service is great, and the menu is more inventive than most. Unlike many of the downtown Trenton establishments, Cafe 72 is open 7 days a week (rather than just M-F). Is it the best breakfast you’ll ever have? Probably not. But it’s better than many, and that’s enough to keep us coming back.
American | Restaurants
13 thoughts on “A Better Breakfast”
LOVE Cafe’ 72, but as of the last time I went there, they do not accept breakfast reservations, you must go and get on the list, and wait, preferably outside, where they have tower heaters and coffee, and you can play Bocce Ball. I also wonder why the mention of other “local” breakfast options includes Mastoris which is 1/2 hour away, and Pat’s which is 15-20 minutes away, but fails to mention the perfectly serviceable New Ewing Diner, and the temporarily closed Two Peters which are nothing special, but offer huge portions at reasonable prices.
Editor’s Note: Thanks for the comment and sharing your insights. Of course “local” is relative. Pat’s is within city limits, which is local to Hidden Trenton. We tend to measure things in terms of their distance from City Hall. We haven’t yet tried New Ewing Diner or Two Peters, though the words you use to describe them “serviceable” and “nothing special” sure don’t give a lot to recommend them!
Also nearby is Deli-Delights which offers a good, cheap, fast breakfast, and I might add, one of the best, most consistent P,E & Cs (Pork roll, Egg and Cheese of course) I have had.
Thanks for the response! To clarify my comments about the diners, I didn’t mean to imply that New Ewing (Or Two Peters) weren’t good. In fact when family is in town and we need a diner to fill the diverse tastes of a large group, we usually end up there for breakfast. Massive omelets, great pancakes, etc… and a very nice Matzo ball soup. My adjectives were more intended to set these diners apart from the step above, creativity-wise, that Cafe 72 provides. Much like your review of Sunrise Luncheonette, for example. 😉
PS. Hidden Trenton has become an invaluable resource to me and my family, keep up the good work!
Yes I have had lunch a few times. They have a great italian hot dog. The breakfast is Always a Regular Sunday event for us
usually only for breakfast Friends! French toast, eggs benedicts, omelets. Everything we’ve had is always tasty, and their coffee is delicious!
Christine and Pilar–Have you been for lunch? What do you recommend there?
This is great spot. Did you know that the folks from Cuginos were the original owners of Café 72? They sold it for awhile and now they are back! I love the pancakes!
I eat here at least once a week, breakfast is terrific, the specials are tasty, and the combo is a great traditional breakfast(eggs, breakfast meat, pancakes or french toast). Lunch menu is always interesting, the specials are interesting and often unexpected combinations turn out to be really good. Regular lunch menu offers nicely done versions of traditional sandwiches and salads. It’s the go to breakfast/lunch place for me and my friends!
one of our favorites!
Cafe 72 is awesome!
We love this place. Grab a bottle of your favorite wine and head over for all you can eat pasta night. It is well worth it. The food is fantastic and the service is spot on.
[Editor’s Note: Cafe 72 is no longer open for dinner, and no longer offers an all-you-can-eat past night. It still is BYOB, and it’s still well worth it!]
This was one of the nicest places we have been to in a long time. The food was way above average, the staff was awesome, and the owner is hot. Don’t tell my husband. 12 /11/08
[Editor’s note: New owners. I don’t know if they are as hot.]
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