The smell of bacon wafts out the front door and hits your nose if you’re within a 100-foot radius of Chubby’s Family Restaurant in east Orlando. It’s the kind of place you don’t mind eating alone in; there’s always a friend willing to sit down across the booth from you and take your order. Almost everyone is greeted by name as they walk through the door, along with a compliment about their current haircut or shirt color. It’s a comfortable place, and the food exponentially accentuates that comfort.
Breakfast is the main meal, I find out, as my “Sherry’s skillet” ($6.50) is slid in front of me. Crispy potatoes and sautéed onions line the bottom of the bowl, followed by savory sausage, two eggs, cheddar cheese and white sausage gravy. Beside it is a biscuit so buttery and soft that jam is rendered unnecessary. I load a heaping pile of breakfast onto my fork and I’m in heaven. When I take a sip of coffee and my mouth is set aflame, I realize that my cup has been refilled under the radar in the 3.5 seconds I was digging in my purse for a pen. That’s the way Chubby’s does things: unceremoniously and swiftly. Like a good doo-wop group, each part harmonizes to create a proficient unity of service, food and ambience.
As I chew blissfully, the man with the full-white beard and the Harley-Davidson shirt in the booth behind me orders a mushroom cheeseburger ($5.95) at 10:30 a.m. I smile inwardly as he skips the french fries. The ones I had yesterday were in dire need of salt, making them useless starch vehicles. But the Chubby’s Burger ($5.95), a 6-ounce beef patty piled with white American cheese and more than a few slices of smoky ham, garnered a jealous gaze from the kimono-clad Betty Boop on the wall opposite me.
The menu at Chubby’s Family Restaurant is filled with sandwiches, salads and a whole host of side dishes, from fried okra to Spam. The pancake special is possibly the best deal in town; for $5 you get two enormous, fluffy pancakes, two eggs any style, and either bacon or sausage.
As long as you pass on the fries, you’ll be satisfied. Glancing up at the print of Lucy and Ethel’s jam-packed faces at the chocolate factory will be like looking in a mirror, but at least you’ll be smiling.