I’m not a restaurant reviewer, but I know a little something about restaurants. Besides the fact that I’ve been eating in them for years, my uncle owned several of them at various times, one of which I worked in as a young man and saw firsthand just what it took to run a successful restaurant. It ain’t easy, believe me. So when I run across a restaurant that is well-operated and above average I appreciate it, especially if the place is one of those hard-working coffee shop/diner kinds of places, like the ones my uncle ran.
That old expression “the best kept secret” has never been truer when it comes to a little out of the way gem called The Magnolia Grille. If you live in Burbank, Toluca Lake or North Hollywood and have never eaten there, well, you don’t know what you’re missing and you’d better hurry over while you can still get a parking place, because parking is the only negative thing about the place.
The Magnolia Grille is located at 10530 Magnolia Blvd., just a block east of Cahuenga in a tiny strip mall which has too many shops and not enough parking spots, especially for a restaurant as popular as this one. Those of us who know about the Grille keep the place jumping; we also know that we’ve got to get there early for a spot in the lot. There is parking on the street, but it is iffy and restricted.
The food is fresh and delicious; they bake their own desserts and breads, the restaurant has good old-fashioned comfy booths inside, and a pet-friendly outside patio eating area, but the real gold in this place, as far as I’m concerned, is the pleasant, accommodating service staff. Every time I’ve been in, no matter who it is that waits on me, I’m greeted with a warm smile and great service. The owners know what there’re doing because this is the key to building regular clientele in the restaurant business: making your patrons feel welcome.
I understand the place is family owned and operated and that could explain why there is that continuity of pleasantness and consistently good food. The folks at The Magnolia Grille care about quality and care about their customers and it certainly shows. The Grille is the perfect place for breakfast or lunch.
For some reason or other it isn’t easy to find a breakfast place that serves real shredded hash brown potatoes, but the Magnolia Grille does and they’re perfect: golden brown crunchy on the outside and soft and buttery on the inside. The egg dishes are always done exactly right and the toast is made from home-made bread. My wife is simply crazy for their home-made salsa on her eggs. They also serve a great French toast made with egg bread. Their zucchini, pumpkin and banana breads are all home-made too, and served warm.
It’s awful when you find a new favorite thing to eat, because then you order it all the time and never get a chance to try other things. That’s what happened to me for lunch with their Bombay Curry Salad. I order it every time — it’s the best. You get that wonderful combination of hot and cold with the grilled chicken slices served on top of chilled romaine lettuce, raisins, almonds and crispy bacon. I used to order the California Sunshine Salad but the Bombay Curry has won my heart.
There are many other varieties of salads on the menu, and of course all salads come with your choice of zucchini, pumpkin, or banana bread, or garlic bread. The lunch menu also includes a wide selection of hot sandwiches and hamburgers.
It is a joy to find a neighborhood restaurant like The Magnolia Grille since I’m always on the lookout for a comfortable place serving good food at a reasonable price by a friendly service staff that makes me feel totally at home and glad that I came in. It is a joy to pass the word on to all of you as well. Just get there early for a parking place in the lot, but even if you have to park a block or two away, it is well worth the walk.