Occupying the former Bird Avenue location of Mojo Burger, Willow Glen upstart Toast Café & Grill interior has undergone a complete retrofit, ditching its bland ’70s diner look in favor of solid-wood furniture, brick accent walls, a covered dog-friendly patio and a bar running the restaurant’s entire length.

Its menu has all the elements one would expect, and some unexpected additions. On my first visit to Toast (“Five To Watch,” Sep. 19, 2018), I ordered one of their namesake toast spreads, the standard breakfast toast ($13.99), and their chicken and waffles ($14.99). The breakfast toast—with its creamy egg, perfectly crispy bacon and fresh avocado, all served on a toasted slice of tangy sourdough—won the day. That’s not to throw shade at the chicken and waffles. Their flavorful, crunchy coating paired well with the buttermilk Belgian waffle, but I prefer a bone-in fried chicken to the white meat tenders served here.

On my second visit, I opted for the carnitas skillet ($13.99) before turning my attention to the drinks menu. Toast’s impressive bar features draft beer, wine, craft cocktails and Mexican favorites like micheladas ($8) and chavelas ($7). Upgrade these to “super” to add a gigantic grilled shrimp to the rim. Their Bloody Marys can also be powered-up with a sausage or a strip of bacon. However, I was drawn their cucumber elderflower mimosa ($9).

Topped with two over-easy eggs, velvety avocado and house made salsa, and served on a bed of well-seasoned country potatoes, the deep-fried hunks of tender pork shoulder recalled the kind of authentic carnitas dished out at San Jose’s best mom-and-pop taquerias. The home fries were a treat as well, with their crisp edge and fluffy center.

The elderflower mimosa paired well with my very hearty and savory dish. Herbaceous, crisp and not too sweet, it provided a refreshing, palate-cleansing respite between bites.

Toast Café & Grill
1411 Bird Ave, San Jose.