Late-night diners are known for their diverse menu selections and homey atmosphere. The food is never great, but as long as the staff is hospitable, it gets the job done. Conrads Restaurant in Glendale is not your typical Denny's or IHOP. With its friendly servers and classy set-up, it's no wonder this family-owned establishment has been a local favorite for 30-plus years. Oh, and the food's not too bad either.
Conrads calls itself a family restaurant, but I see it more as a fine dining/greasy spoon/sports bar hybrid. The interior is sectioned off into three separate areas, including a party room with white tablecloths, leather booths and a full-service bar. There's a breakfast bar right when you walk in with a flat-screen TV overhead tuned to ESPN. The TVs are a recent addition to make the general seating area more appealing to sports fans. However, I sat in the brand new patio area.
Most restaurant patios are located in the back but Conrads' is in the front, which is nice. Even though I was sitting a few feet away from the entrance, I could still enjoy a private conversation. And on sunny days, a thick canopy of terrace umbrellas is sure to block out any unwanted rays. The patio gets crowded on most nights and the evening I went was no exception. Still, the tables were spread apart enough for my guest and I to enjoy our dinner without too many distractions.
Some all-night diners are known to skimp on their portions, but this was not the case with Conrads. When the beef quesadilla appetizers came out, I was surprised at how much they gave us. With thick slices of steak and fresh guacamole for dipping, it was as good as any meal. However, I still saved room for the main course.
Conrads advertises "breakfast all day" but I had my sights set on their "famous chicken" special. For just under seven bucks, you get a half-fried chicken with a side of mashed potatoes and home-style gravy. My chicken came out moist and flavorful, and the skin was seasoned to perfection. My guest ordered the country-fried streak, which was equally as tasty.
After all that food, I barely had room for dessert, but the pecan pie looked too good to pass up. Served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and packed with warm pecans, each bite tasted like it had just come out of the oven. Our waiter told us that all of the pies are baked fresh each morning, and go pretty quick once they're on display. "People love them," he said, and I couldn't agree more.
Conrads has a motto, "We serve to serve again," which is plastered on the front of the building. There are plenty of options for those in search of a quick bite to eat late at night. But if good food with friendly service is what you're after, then Conrads will not disappoint.
James Famera is a freelance arts critic based in Los Angeles
What: Conrads Restaurant
Where: 820 N. Central Ave., Glendale
When: 24 hours a day, seven days a week
Prices: Breakfast (served all day) and lunch $5.95 to $10.95; dinners $8 to $15
Contact: (818) 246-6547 or visit http://www.conradsglendale.com.