If you blink, you may miss it, so keep your eyes open. Inconspicuous along Highway 67, south of Highway 18, is a dining destination that may seem ordinary on the outside. But one step inside and you’ll see that the Sunny Side Up Cafe in Dousman is anything but ordinary.
The aroma of exotic spices and flavors catches you as you walk through the door. Behind the counter, Waukesha residents and owners Margarito and Lizeth Garcia shine infectious smiles. The smells are the combination of ingredients, his recipes, that have been passed on through the generations. With pride, Margarito explains that the Mexican menu items are truly authentic, and are made using family recipes that go back farther than he knows.
He began cooking as a teenager, learning from his mother and grandmother in Mexico. Together they would make mole, tamales and sopes, the same way that they are still made at Sunny Side Cafe. From the salsas to the rice and beans, and even the mole and other sauces, everything is made fresh in house.
Traditional Mexican dishes on the menu include chilies rellenos: two poblano peppers stuffed with cheese or beef, egg battered and pan fried; tacos; combination plates; tamales, gorditas; and even a seafood enchilada stuffed with shrimp, crab, red or green sauce, cheese and sour cream. Among Garcia’s favorites: asada a la tampiquena, a delicious, tender skirt steak seared with Monterey cheese, onions, and one cheese enchilada.
Breakfast is served all day at the cafe, and boasts most of your American favorites: pancakes, french toast, omelettes, skillets and eggs galore. But even breakfast hasn’t escaped a Mexican twist as options also include chorizo and eggs and beef fajitas and eggs.
American fare is available at other times of the day as well, with the menu including sandwiches and burgers. Always popular is the Packer burger, says Garcia, loaded with onions, green peppers and American cheese. Appetizers include a mix of standard favorites and Mexican snacks, including the ever-popular nachos supreme.
As a frequent visitor to the area during Dousman Derby Days, U.S. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Janesville) makes a point to stop at the cafe, where his meal of choice is the California Burrito, a tortilla shell packed with tomato, cheese, beans, meat, with Swiss cheese, guacamole and enchilada sauce on the side. An accompanying serving of rice and beans completes the meal.
Dessert isn’t forgotten, with fried ice cream and cheese cake available.
Meals can be taken to go, and Sunny Side Cafe offers meals in catering quantities (customers have to pick up and set up the food). Popular among catering customers is the taco bar. Any of the menu’s items can be prepared for catering.
Settling in to the community
Sunny Side Cafe opened seven years ago. Having worked in the restaurant business most of his life, doing everything from dish washing to cooking, Garcia was motivated to open a space of his own. With no other Mexican restaurants in the immediate area, the couple saw their Dousman location as the perfect place to be able to serve the community.
Because they are located off the beaten path, most guests have made the cafe a dining destination. From regulars who come by seven days a week, to families from Milwaukee and the outlying areas who made the trip in on a less regular basis, everyone feels at home in the quaint space.
“Almost everybody knows about the restaurant around here,” Garcia says. And what they think of when they think of the restaurant is good food, good company and good service.
“Everybody says ‘this is my second home,’” he says with a laugh.
With decor fitting of a traditional Mexican home kitchen and staff that takes the time to chat with customers, it’s easy to see why.
Sunny Side Up is open seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Breakfast and lunch specials are available.
1/4 of an onion
1 cup cooked diced ham
1/2 of a green pepper
2 slices of American cheese
Boil the potatoes whole. Once tender, skin and shred them to the constancy of hash browns. Add a dab of oil to a hot pan or skillet, and brown the potatoes. In a separate pan, combine the diced vegetables and ham until cooked.
Once the potatoes and vegetables are done, layer the vegetables and ham on top of the hash browns. Place the cheese on top, and complete the layers with two eggs cooked how you like. Serve with a side of toast.