The Fifth Wheel

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San Leandro Restaurants


A Caveat

5th wheel

The Fifth Wheel is a San Leandro institution, it's been around forever (since 1946) and serves what has been described as typical "truck stop food." It's the type of all-American fare that you can get at diners from one end of the country to the other. The tiny restaurant (it barely has four or five tables and 8 counter spaces) has attracted a large number of devotees, some who've dined there since they were little children. The reviews at were very positive, and our friends Eddie & Arthur raved about it, so we knew we had to try it. Finally, one Saturday morning in September 2004 we called up our usual dining-partners Regina and Boris and we headed there.

We should have brought lawn chairs, we had to wait almost an hour before we were seated and I think we were almost feeling faint from hunger and sun stroke by then (make sure to bring a hat if it's a sunny day). Perhaps the wait would have been worth it if the food had been better, but what we got was regular diner fare at regular San Leandro diner prices. Their breakfast menu (lunch is served Monday-through-Friday) mostly consists of the classics: omelettes and eggs with a variety of meats, hashbrowns, pancakes and french toast (all around $6-8 for combos). A chicken teriyaki omelette provided the only "exotic" choice. This is the type of food that you can get at many places in San Leandro, including the Pelton Cafe, Ploughman's and Emil Villa's, so there is no need to go to the Fifth Wheel for the food alone (though the truck stop atmosphere can't be beat).

Mike decided on the two-pancake combo ($5.85) which he ordered with scrambled eggs and chicken apple sausage. The sausage was very tasty, and the rest of the food was fine, though nothing exceptional.

Boris went with the chicken teriyaki omelette with Swiss cheese ($8) which came with hashbrowns. He really liked the hashbrowns, which were crispy on the outside and not at all greasy. I was quite pleased with them as well, though again, they were not exceptional. Boris was much less enthralled with the omelette - the Swiss cheese really didn't work with the chicken but his only other choice for cheese had been American, which would have been worse. He did enjoy the grilled linguisa that came with Regina's traditional breakfast. Regina had asked for her two eggs to be scrambled with vegetables, and pronounced them to be just OK. The English muffin was just that.

I decided on an order of french toast, hashbrowns and a chocolate milkshake. I liked the thick slices of french toast, but was unhappy it was served with margarine rather than butter. I'm just not a big fan of hydrogenated vegetable oils. I wasn't expecting maple syrup (but it would have been nice) and appreciated that they served the corn syrup hot. The chocolate milkshake ($3.50), however, was a big disappointment. It came in a small glass which had been overfilled so that the shake was falling off the sides, too messy for my taste. But the real problem was that it just didn't taste very chocolatey. For $3.50 the least they could do was not skimp on the chocolate syrup.

In all, breakfast was OK but no better than what we can get at a number of other San Leandro spots. I might try the lunch sometime, but only if we don't have to wait.

The Fifth Wheel
898 San Leandro Blvd
San Leandro, CA
(510) 635-7538