Diner Week: Maria's Cafe (The Big Lebowski in me)
4645 Venice Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90019
Today's entry may be somewhat debatable for many people who read this, but I would have to argue for it. Yes, it is attached to a bowling alley, but I look at that as a plus, not a negative. Maria's Cafe has a special place for those people who grew up going out to bowl with their family and still get together with friends to do so. That being said, it is this very fact that brings the "Big Lebowski" out in me. Did they ever eat at the bowling alley in The Big Lebowski? No but just cause it wasn't there doesn't mean "The Dude" didn't do it.
You'll find the classic coffee shop counter here with the regulars filling it up early each morning to talk and "mentally prepare" for the daily grind. And, the girls there treat everyone like you'd expect on an episode of Cheers, which always makes for the pleasant meal.
While I will say that the coffee can be inconsistent (ask for it when it's fresh if you can) I can say that the breakfast plates are A-1 classic diner food. Breakfast is served all day (yet another good sign of "diner-ship"). One specific exception that's stand out above the rest are their pancakes. And to be even more specific, their blueberry pancakes. Fluffy and flavorful but not so sweet that it's like kid's cereal or overpowers the batter. Good stuff indeed.
Breakfast staples like bacon and eggs won't win any awards in how they look but the flavor is right on and not dripping with grease.
One of the cheap (read under $4) plates that they had this particular morning had grits, bacon, and eggs. It was great, like a home cooked meal could be great when you're waking up. Nice crisp bacon, ever so slightly "al-dente" grits and eggs once again...done the way eggs should be done.
Though I don't have picture of it, they also have some pretty amazing things on their menu. It wouldn't be LA without some typical Mexican fare on the menu, but what Ox Tails or salmon croquettes with sides like okra and mustard greens. They even have yams which may I say is one of my all time favorites vegetables...I could easily have it with just about any meal.
This place is a hang out for so many locals it's remarkable. You will ALWAYS find people eating in here and chatting it up with the super friendly waitresses. I once again won't say that this place is going to win any awards, but it's serves it's purpose in LA by being one of the decent ones left, and for that I salute them.
For those who have never seen "The Big Lebowski"...WHY THE HECK HAVEN'T YOU?! It's only like one of the most prolific cult classics to come around in the past 20 years.
Free Refills: Yes
Entree Price Ranges: Breakfast is $3.75 to $8, lunch is $5 to $8 and dinner is $6.25 to $11