So I'm driving around the LAX area on a new car search late this morn, and I remember I haven't been to El Segundo for quite a while. Figure I'll try out Rinaldi's and see how they stack up to my favorites, Bay Cities and Victor Jr.'s. Well, as I slowly search for Rinaldi's I pass Big Mike's, and realize that I haven't found a substitute for my favorite cheesesteak since Markie D's retired and their space became a Hoagies and Wings. Better still, I notice that Big Mike's has a parking lot alongside with plenty of spaces.
Got there about 11:45 and was immediately greeted by the guy at the register. Had to use the bathroom first, which was clean and serviceable, and then came out to order. No real decision, since I knew I wanted to sample the Philly cheesesteak. Noticed they offered specials with a side and fountain drink included, and then asked and was informed they also could be matched with a 12-inch rather than a 6-inch sub. Liked that they had choices with slightly increasing prices for chips, fries, garlic fries, or even onion rings. Well, I was hungry and knew that I'd probably be taking at least half of the cheesesteak home for dinner.
My order number was called much quicker than I anticipated, and I was treated to a huge Philly cheesesteak with onion, sweet and hot peppers. My fries were provided in an additional basket. I was very happy. The meat was hot, moist, plentiful, and tasty. The peppers added spicy notes, each bite was a bit different (especially with the amount of cheese), and I didn't have to add the hot sauce that I usually drop on every few bites. The fries were on the thin side but more than shoestrings, seemed unpeeled in a few areas, and had a spice blend that was more than just salt. Not quite the crisp crunch that I usually like, but tasty and not uncooked or limp. By the time I began eating the line in front of the register was beginning to stretch towards the door.
Very friendly, helpful folks. When I asked one of the cooks for some foil or wrapper and a bag for my leftover half and fries, he immediately offered to wrap them up for me, even though he was in the middle of lunch rush. I declined and he gave me a box that worked effectively. I don't get to the area frequently, but I'll be sure to return to Big Mike's. Gotta try the onion rings next time. ;-)