FOOD FIGHT: Diners put up their dukes

Diners are the kind of eateries that appeal to the masses — folks looking for home-style cooking at an affordable price, parties of one who prefer the counter space for easier newspaper perusal and the bedraggled likes of those who over-indulged the night before, looking for the perfect greasy dish to sop up their alcoholic excess. You don’t have to drive too far around Glendale or Burbank to spot these greasy spoons, a distinction more charming than disparaging in today’s culinary terminology.

But with so many to choose from, how do you decide which diner to patronize? A Burbank resident for nearly 13 years, I’ve gobbled my way through many of the Jewel and Media cities’ menus. And because I’ve fallen into all of the aforementioned customer categories, I’ve opted to put my eating experience to positive community use — reviewing local restaurants.

My epicurean journey began with two decades-old independent diners — Lancers Family Restaurant in Burbank and Foxy’s Restaurant in Glendale.

LANCERS

Morning, noon or night, the window booths at Lancers are packed. The restaurant is on the edge of my neighborhood, at the corner of Victory and Chandler boulevards, flanked by Toys R Us and the industrial Foam Mart across the street.

We started the meal with coffee, poured immediately by a congenial and efficient waitress. In addition to clanging silverware, one thing you should anticipate at diners is a strong cup of java. Sadly, Lancers’ nearly transparent brown liquid did not qualify. Still, I guzzled it, hoping for a delayed, high-octane kick.

I opted for eggs-over-medium, well-done bacon and Lancers’ touted French toast. My early arrival netted the “Special Breakfast” price of $4.99. My companion scoffed at the discounted meals and chose a California omelet, complete with bacon, avocado and cheese, a side of hash browns and pancakes.

The diner bustled with graying customers, folks whom the wait staff addressed by name. I smiled at the friendliness of the servers, just as ours plunked down our breakfast.

Commence frowning.

The American cheese slice, in its original square form, appeared more as an afterthought than an ingredient. My eggs and French toast looked OK, but a couple of bites later, I believed a hunk of foam might’ve had more taste. Even my friend’s pancakes proved tasteless. So much for that $19.95.

FOXY’S

This restaurant’s charming interior and outdoor patio were as enticing as its parking lot was maddening. My advice — park on the street or brush up on your three-point turning skills before checking out this Glendale diner at Colorado Boulevard, just east of Central Avenue.

With June gloom behind us, I chose to sit outside. Inside, though, each table came with its own toaster, a nice touch for folks who are picky about how brown they like their bread.

The menu selections were bountiful, but I stopped as soon as I spied the California Benedict: eggs, tomatoes and avocado on an English muffin. It came with a side of fruit, read: honey dew, which the waitress happily substituted for banana slices. My friend ordered his favorite breakfast entrée: machaca con huevos. I balked at ordering Mexican food at a diner, but it was me who ended up with egg on my face — best machaca meal my San Diego friend has ever had, he said.

My meal deserves equal praise — perfectly poached eggs over grilled, buttery bread, slices of ripe avocado and tomatoes as fresh as the flowers that adorn the 55-year-old cash register. Even the plump orange garnish was delectable. For $23.82, Foxy’s was worth every last Lincoln.


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