Now Johnny O’s
Stevie Dee’s Cafe, 8890 E. 8th St. (at Vineyard), Rancho Cucamonga
Stevie’s is the shack perched a few feet below the railroad tracks on Vineyard. The blue and white striped building appears to have been there forever. (The staff thinks it dates to the 1940s.) The building was Chuck’s Diner for at least a decade prior to Stevie Dee’s arrival. Anyone know more of its history?
Inside there’s a counter, a few tables, frilly curtains on the windows and ’50s kitsch on the walls: Marilyn posters, Elvis photos, etc. The walls also hold 45s tacked up in a row near the ceiling and an autographed photo of that late-night yodeler, Slim Whitman.
I’d been to Stevie’s once, maybe three years ago, eating a fish sandwich and a cup of soup. The sandwich was fine and the soup was the standout. This time I went with two friends who’d always been curious about the place. It serves breakfast and lunch and now also has dinner.
Our sandwiches — tuna melt ($7.25), tuna sandwich ($6.75), avocado burger ($6.99) — were deemed average to slightly above. They were all generously sized. The burger seemed to have both mayo and Thousand Island, which made it a little goopy.
An order of onion rings to share ($2.75) was thick cut and tasty. Our sandwiches came with a side of soup, salad, fries, onion rings or zucchini. My salad was standard. My friends got two of the day’s housemade soups, Northern bean and beefy noodle, and that’s where the action was. Instead of cups, the soup came in bowls and could have been meals in themselves. The beefy noodle had big pieces of tomato, as well as pasta, beef and corn. “I would come here just for the soup,” one friend said.
Twice during lunch a Metrolink train roared past, whistle blowing. People have been hearing train whistles in that building for decades. You could do worse than to join them.
Here’s a review with photos at the fun Dinerwood blog.
* Update, March 2014: I went in for lunch on a Monday and everything seemed unchanged, thankfully. I had a $7 Philly steak sandwich with onion rings (same price as fries, a rarity). It’s not Phillys Best, but the sandwich was tasty enough. My only regret is that they didn’t have any of their famous soups that day.