Bite of the Palouse: Colfax’s Top Notch Cafe holds its weight

Sometimes a greasy burger with a fried egg on top is just what you need

CARSON HOLLAND, Evergreen columnist

I wrote up a list of restaurants throughout the Palouse that are to die for, but I wanted to focus on one I ran into on accident this week. 

I found myself up north of my usual hideaway of Pullman in the town of Colfax, on a recommendation of our paper’s director. Unfortunately, the restaurant we were originally going to was closed for the day so we went over to its neighbor – Top Notch Cafe.  

Top Notch Cafe is located right on the main street of Colfax and with its big burger sign, it is almost impossible to miss. While there is not a ton of parking right next to the restaurant, we were able to find a good spot at the Rosauers just a few blocks down.  

Before you make your 20-minute drive down to Colfax make sure to keep in mind the hours of the restaurant. It is open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays; they are not open on Sundays. 

You can go for either breakfast or lunch and you will not run out of options to choose from on their humongous menus. If you want to take a peek at the menu before you go, Top Notch Cafe keeps it updated on their website along with their hours. The restaurant is available for takeout or dine-in. 

The first thing I noticed as I walked into Top Notch Cafe was the size of it. With only a handful of seats both inside and outside, do not expect to be able to host your group of 20 without having to split up. Despite the restaurant being busy we were able to find a seat quickly.

The service was quick and friendly and we had our food out before we knew it, and best of all we were not scared off by the price tag which was surprisingly cheap. 

I am a big fan of the classic burgers, milkshake and fries combo. It is such an iconic combination and while it is hard to truly mess up, it takes a great restaurant to showcase it all together. Top Notch Cafe does this perfectly and that burger was finger-licking good. 

Usually, if a restaurant has a good burger it does not have good fries or vice versa, but Top Notch Cafe did not fall victim to this trap. The fries were crispy and seasoned well and matched the burger really well. And this burger was packed with flavor and given the works, juicy with lots of well-prepared toppings that tied the whole sandwich together. 

And of course, you are wondering about the milkshake. 

I was not prepared for how good or how large the milkshake was going to be. They brought out the milkshake in a well-presented cup with whip cream and an extra tin full of the excess milkshake and every single bite of it was better than the last. The trifecta between it all made the meal something memorable and something that did not break the bank. 

Anything less than $20 is a gem that needs to be treasured and a burger, fries and milkshake all under $20 is even better. 

I cannot vouch for the breakfast but rest assured that I will be there early in the morning to try it out and I will dutifully report how it tastes. Such sacrifices are necessary in order to keep this column going. 

They say not to judge a book by its cover and Top Notch Cafe is a great example of that, even if that cover is not the most appealing. At first glance, nothing about Top Notch Cafe screams good food or a great dining experience but we soon found that the opposite is true. The only change that I would make would be to add more room so more people can experience the tasty food. 

For those who do not like burgers, Top Notch Cafe has other offerings available. You can try everything from chicken strips to salads and deli sandwiches. To quench your thirst, you can of course get one of a variety of milkshake flavors or other drink options such as bottled root beer, fountain drinks or some alcoholic options for those over 21. 

I know that not everyone, especially incoming freshmen, has a car readily available to drive down to Colfax but fear not, I have a solution. You do not need a car to get down to Colfax, you need a friend with a car who wants to taste some great food. With that in mind, cast your nets wide, Top Notch Cafe is a great spot to bring your friends. 

If you are traveling around the Palouse and get hungry before you make it to Pullman consider stopping in Colfax and Top Notch Cafe for some delicious grub.