Story and photos
by David Kujawa
Nestled in the corner of a large aircraft maintenance hangar on the northwest side of Chandler Municipal Airport (KCHD) is the Hangar Cafe. A longtime hangout of local farmers and businessmen, the Hangar Cafe is a prime spot for airplane watching and good food.
You’ll find numerous tailwheel airplanes from the local flight school out on the ramp directly in front of the cafe. Autumn through spring there will be scores of antiques and homebuilts alongside the certified stuff in the transient parking spaces just a stone’s throw away from the front door. Very early arrivals might catch a glimpse of some daring old men in their flying machines, otherwise known as the Dawn Patrol. A flock of replica World War I French Nieuports takes to the air when the winds are light and the air is cool. Drive-in customers will find ample parking next to the hangar. Fly-in types should consult the Phoenix sectional chart, or better yet, the Phoenix VFR terminal chart.
The Class D Chandler airport is situated 14 nautical miles southeast of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and sits under a 4,000-foot shelf of the Phoenix Class B airspace. Getting there from any direction is easy with numerous VFR flyways under and around the Class B, and with a north/south VFR transition route through the core of the Class B. Consult the back side of the terminal chart for details.
Chandler airport has two paved 4,000-foot-plus parallel runways oriented 4/22. Intensive training activities, fixed-wing and helicopter students, keep the friendly tower controllers busy. Follow noise abatement procedures to keep the too-close homeowners quiet. Also be advised—there is an active aerobatic box approximately seven miles south/southeast of the airport near the San Tan Mountains.
The Hangar Cafe is open for breakfast and lunch, so plan to arrive early and not late. Hours are 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Sunday. The best way to enjoy a meal at the Hangar Cafe is at a table on the covered outdoor patio, just off the side of the restaurant. Landings on runway 22R can be critiqued and scored from there.
The breakfast menu contains the usual favorites like ham and eggs, pancakes, and waffles. And count ’em — there are eight different omelets, all priced at $6.25. The huge breakfast burritos are also great way to get your fill, priced from $3.75 to $6.95. You won’t need to worry about where to find lunch if you opt for the chorizo burrito stuffed with spicy sausage, three eggs, potatoes, green chilies, and cheese. The $5.95 chicken fried steak is good, especially with eggs over-easy. Biscuits and gravy for $3.99 will also satisfy your southern food cravings. For light eaters there are bagels, muffins, and rolls to go with a bottomless cup of coffee.
Did someone say it’s time for lunch? Let’s start with an appetizer called Poppers for $4.50. It’s jalapeno peppers stuffed with cheese and coated with beer batter. Don’t worry, the alcohol burns off when they get deep-fried! Next, it’s on to the soup and salad. Will it be soup-of-the-day or chili? Ask your server for a recommendation. You can get your green and leafies about nine different ways. Choose wisely, as some of the salads are meals unto themselves and we wouldn’t want to miss the main course.
You’ll be glad we ordered that appetizer, because with 22 sandwiches on the menu — priced from $4.95 to $6.95 — it will take some time to make a selection. BLT, Rueben, Philly steak? Do yourself a favor and go straight for the Polish Dog—a large, grilled Polish sausage with sauerkraut and Swiss cheese. Hey, that’s what they make cholesterol medicine for!
I didn’t forget the burgers. No self-respecting airport restaurant, much less one named the Hangar Cafe, could possible be without a burger or two on the menu. Order the gut-busting Hangar Burger—two, one-third pound patties with American and Swiss cheese, green chilies, mushrooms, lettuce, onions, tomato, pickles, and the kitchen sink for $6.95. Wash that burger and fries down with a cold soda and you’ll be fueled for a long cross county flight.
For more, call 480-899-6965.
David Kujawa was born and raised in Oshkosh, WI. He is a CFI and is the former editor of Sport Aerobatics and former associate editor of Northern Pilot.