What makes a restaurant chowhoundish?
Sometimes, for me, the lines blur ... and granted, I'm pretty new here so maybe I haven't caught on. I get the concept -- great food, not just the hot new thing. And a chowhound place can be anything from 200 per person sushi to a 2 dollar per person taco truck. Sometimes, you just know.
But, are all chowhound places destinations? Are all of Jonathan Gold's counter intelligence places destinations? Maybe there should just be a mileage meter - as in how many miles you'd travel to eat at a certain restaurant.
I really like Ronnie's Diner.
I've been eating at Ronnie's for three years regularly, since I moved to the western part of Culver City. Ronnie's is on Culver Boulevard where Braddock goes from parellel to crossing Culver. It's right where the 90 fwy crosses Culver, call it the Marina Del Rey/Play Del Rey border. It's in a little mini-mall with a liquor store, a good beer bar called The Bus Stop, a pretty good Japanese place where we get noodles or curry rice called Asa-Ya and an Italian place that looks busy but I never eat there.
Ronnie's is a total neighborhood place. You'd never notice it if you weren't looking for it and you'd never go there unless you were in the area. It's really friendly and casual, it's a t-shirt and Vans sort of crowd.
It started off as a breakfast place. A healthy breakfast place, too. They have all the traditional dishes, egges, omellettes, and sides. The menu doesn't read amazing. What's great about the place is just how fresh every ingredient is, how fresh everything tastes.
What do I get? Even though they have all the "regular" breakfast items, I go for the healthy area of the menu. They have egg whites with pancakes and a juicy chicken breast or think steak that comes out perfect, the meatiness of the chicken or beef offset by the high grade maple syrup. They've got protein only deals with black beans instead of the pancakes. The pancakes, btw, come in regular or (I think) blueberry (I'm blanking on the fruitier pancakes). They've got apple-turkey sausage and delicious, crispy bacon.
When I don't order from the healthy section, I go for the breakfast burritos. I love breakfast burritos, but these are great because it's an excuse to use the awesome salsa that's on every table. I've put it on omelettes, too. My kids order french toast which comes in portions too big for them to eat.
The coffee is really good, too.
Ronnie's gets sort of crowded on the weekends (lots of cops, from the Pacific Division down the street, btw) but you can sit their and sip coffee and read the paper all you want. I tend to linger less when it's crowded and people are waiting for the table, but during the week or when it's slow and you can sit there all day.
I don't go for lunch as much because I'm not home. I'm not in the neighborood. Sometimes we go for dinner, though. I ususally get the turkey burger because I like turkey burgers. (I'm not someone who eats turkey burgers because they are healthier than hamburgers. I eat them because done right, they are delicious. Sometimes I eat hamburgers. It's like sometimes I order a turkey sandwich, sometimes I order pastrami. One isn't a sub for the other.) Ronnie's is seasoned just right on a whole wheat bun. It comes with good fries.
Speaking of potatoes, the breakfast dishes come with good potatoes or you can go the rice route if you're watching your diet. Both have good flavor.
The rest of the dinner menu reads like a really good coffee shop or diner. Some chicken dishes, hamburgers, some Mexican fare, though don't confuse it with authentic Mexican. And the same fresh flavors prevail.
There is nothing fancy at Ronnie's. Go there expecting the sublime and you'll be disappointed. But if you are ever in the Marina area (not the Admiralty Way/west Washington part .., but the east of Lincoln part) and want a very good breakfast with good service and good coffee, if the appeal of good cooking with an emphasis on healthy and frexh is something that sounds good to you, if you like big booths and chairs with arms and a place to read the paper is something you are into ... then give Ronnie's a try.
It's not a Best of LA or an "I'm coming to town for three days and where do I eat sort of place." It's a neighborhood place ... I'm just glad it's in my neighborhood.