211 E. Cucharras St., 632-9712, detzcafe.com
Much respect to owner Verna Summers for the proud sourcing of Ranch Foods Direct beef across her classic comfort-food diner menu. After 20 years downtown, the large RFD banner she's recently draped outside her business might just attract new diners beyond the core downtowners and Sunday church crowds.
Based on my Wednesday special of hamburger steak ($7.50) though, I can't say the meat's always best handled. Cooked very well done with some charred edges and some entirely burnt sautéed onions, it'd have been better on the bloodier side. The mashed potatoes need some cream and butter in the prep, and the beans are the mushy canned kind. Diner norm, really. An accompanying beef and vegetable soup is hearty though, and the veggie and cheese quesadilla ($6.25/small) with a good house guacamole is perfectly satisfying. The super-sweet house carrot cake ($3.25) is literally half icing. — Matthew Schniper
3802 Maizeland Road, 596-9300, steaksmith.com
There's no doubt the much-lauded restaurant cares. Just one example: Because I walked in with a book, I was guided to the brightest spot in the dining room. This attention has surely contributed to Steaksmith's longevity: 32 years and counting — thin veins of tar patches in the parking lot a testament to time.
Once in the dated dining room, seated in a black swivel chair with Southwestern upholstery, dinner was long-lasting too (though buffered with good bread): 15 minutes to having an order taken, 20-plus for food to arrive. An 11-ounce sirloin ($26.95), sourced from meat-giant Cargill, brought with it a pathetically limited-for-the-price-point salad bar; and excellent side sauces of a sauerbraten-like demi-glace, and a white, buttery cognac cream. A house Pinot noir ($7) paired fine. A neighboring couple complained of an overcooked steak; mine was a delicious pink, until the last brown-and-chewy quarter of it. — Bryce Crawford
Rico's Café and Wine Bar
322 N. Tejon St., 630-7723, poorrichardsdowntown.com
Gone is the egg timbale that helped launch Rico's breakfast menu a couple or so years ago, but a daily quiche remains ($3.75) that's heartier than the pastry case offerings. On the morning I drop in, it's a veggie quiche properly loaded with broccoli, mushrooms, onions and red bell peppers, with a soft, doughy crust that's slightly reminiscent of pizza crust.
With morning light pouring past the greeting card shelves and a quieter crowd than at night, the café takes on more of a coffee than wine bar feel, perfect for doing laptop work next to say, a pleasant, 16-ounce chai latte with steamed almond milk and honey ($3.45). The hedonistic voice in my head grumbles that I didn't order the maple-walnut muffin. The sensible, boring voice cheers my almond-raisin bran muffin ($2.25) decision, even if it's a bit dense and saliva-stealing. — Matthew Schniper