Diner food is fried and true at Dixie Tracks Cafe

What do you get when you cross a chimichanga with a cheese steak?

At Dixie Tracks Café, which is not much bigger than a double-wide trailer, you get something called a Philly Changa ($10). Tender slices of rib-eye, onions, red and green peppers, American cheese and cream of mushroom sauce are wrapped inside a tortilla. Deep-fried until crisp, the result is magnificent, even if it leaves you feeling as if you should start shopping for a cardiologist. It's served with fries and spicy ketchup that owner Ned Jaouhar and Kareem Lakchira make from scratch.

Along with more than a dozen sandwiches, the lunchtime menu features five exquisite salads. The Moroccan ($7) is made with romaine, tomatoes, Kalamata olives, feta cheese, cucumbers, chickpeas, eggplant, cranberries and the lightest of dressings. At breakfast, the menu is all about eggs, egg-based submarine sandwiches and Belgian waffles in every guise. Yes, there is the ubiquitous fried chicken and waffle ($9) — this one served with spiced Asian maple syrup — but there's also a Naughty waffle ($8), with caramelized banana, fresh strawberries, Nutella and fresh cream. We shared the Flirty waffle (48), with dulce de leche, banana, marshmallow, strawberries and corn flakes. The waffles are amazing.

But just when you think you understand what Dixie Tracks Café is all about, you notice that the menu also includes a grilled chicken paillard ($8) sandwich. And there's cream of mushroom soup ($3.50/cup) on a special board. And didn't the menu say the salads were organic? These dishes are a little cheffy for a spot serving tuna melts ($8) and BLTs ($6).

I called Jaouhar for some background. It turns out Jaouhar spent the past eight years as executive chef at Cielo, the now-closed Mediterranean restaurant inside the Boca Raton Resort and Club. He oversaw as many as 20 employees. Jaouhar left last fall, but the restaurant was once owned by the British TV chef Gordon Ramsay. Jaouhar understands fine food and service.

So why did he leave such a coveted position?

"I wanted to spent more time with my sons," he says. "They're 5 and 7. I wanted to be able to go to soccer practice. I decided I didn't want to work nights, anymore."

(That cream of mushroom soup, by the way, is the same one he prepared at the Boca Resort. But instead of $3.50, it cost $13.)

Jaouhar's partner, Lakchira, also worked at Cielo, where his responsibility was the front of the house. But both men love the kind of American diner food that they serve at Dixie Tracks Café.

The Monster Melt ($10), for example, includes ham and Swiss cheese layered between three slices of white bread. The sandwich gets a ladle of old-fashioned sausage gravy, and it's topped with a poached egg. This is a winner. So is the macaroni and cheese ($5), studded with bacon bits.

The walls of the 22-seat Dixie Tracks Café are decorated with old album covers. It's more diner than destination. Reggae and soul music is on the stereo. Jaouhar says he loves having the kitchen up front after spending so many years tucked away from customers.

Once every three weeks, Jaouhar spreads his wings and works at night with a Saturday dinner for just 20 people at one seating. The most recent one cost $85 per person and offered five courses that included a Maine lobster and Maryland crab crepe, 48-hour sous vide beef short rib and seared diver scallops with barbecue-smoked pork belly. The next one will be held on Saturday, March 15.

Dixie Tracks Café is on its way to stardom.

jtanasychuk@SouthFlorida.com or 954-356-4632. Read his blog at SouthFlorida.com/sup and follow him on Twitter at @FloridaEats.

4820 N. Dixie Highway, Oakland Park

754-223-2456

Cuisine: American

Cost: Inexpensive

Hours: Breakfast and lunch Monday-Saturday

Reservations: Not required, but accepted

Credit cards: All major

Sound level: Moderate

For kids: Highchairs, boosters, menu items on request

Wheelchair accessible: Yes

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