When there's a plaque near a restaurant's entrance that says the Rotary Club meets there every Tuesday, you know you've just entered a popular local hangout. Such is Grinder Deli and Restaurant on Los Angeles Avenue.
For those who don't know about the restaurant, it is a fairly standard deli and restaurant that serves sandwiches, soups and a number of other items. Patrons can sit in booths or at a small counter and the décor smacks of your tasteful.
If you're looking for a lazy Sunday morning brunch, Grinder is a good place to start. The restaurant serves breakfast all day and with the two-and-a-half pages to choose from, you really could just sit and try everything all day. Not to mention, most items are affordable and cost less than $10.
The breakfast menu accommodates far-reaching tastes, including just-like-mom-made big breakfast platters of eggs, home fries and toast; Mexican-inspired dishes and your bubbie's favorites, like potato latkes, Matzo brie and homemade blintzes. Omelets come in a wide variety too.
When my party went for Sunday brunch, we were seated right away. The service was very good, especially considering it was a fairly busy day, and after the single coffee drinker in my group took just a sip, a waiter came by to top off the cup. The noise level was manageable and we could easily hear other members of our party without having to accidentally eavesdrop on the conversation in the booth behind us (a pet peeve). When we received our food, there was enough food to feed a group twice our size.
The ranchero burrito contained eggs, hash browns, cheese and meat. A light sauce topped the burrito and a side of delicious pico de gallo and refried beans accompanied the dish. The filling didn't have any kick to it, so if you like spicy, mix in the pico de gallo or add Tapatio. This burrito is enough food for two people … be prepared to feel stuffed afterwards and ready to go back to sleep.
The salami omelet is equally filling and comes with toast and hash browns. A member of our party chose to substitute Egg Beaters instead of regular eggs, and wasn't disappointed. The egg dishes and combos are standard and the scrambled eggs weren't runny or dried out (common problems in some deli breakfasts).
A dining companion who ordered grits and eggs with a biscuit was somewhat disappointed in her meal. The grits, eggs and biscuit were a little bit cold, as if sitting around while the other meals were cooking. Also, she described the flavor of the meal as bland. The presentation was rather plain compared to the other dishes as well. Some Grinder dishes are simply hit or miss, but I find this to be the case with any other standard deli fare.
One thing that struck me about the menu is that the choice of pancakes, waffles and French toast was dwarfed by the page of eggs and omelet combinations. This in by no means a bad thing, but you might want to keep in mind that keep in mind that this is more of an egg place than a pancake house.
Glances at other people's dishes (and their soon-to-be-emptied plates) provided assurance that they, too, enjoyed their meals. One dish I wish I had tried while I there was the blintzes. I spotted them across the room and they didn't look like the standard frozen blintzes you get and eat once a year during Hanukkah. They were stuffed full of blueberries and came with fresh fruit, sour cream and strawberry preserves. I didn't think asking the stranger if I could try a bite would go over well, so the blintzes will be saved for another day.
If you're looking for a fancy place to dress up to dine and use linen napkins and tablecloths, this is not the place. Most delis aren't. This place is where locals can hang out with old friends, treat their families to a meal that tastes home cooked (without having to wash any dishes), or just have a nice, quick meal at the counter and get back to enjoy the rest of the day