Dot Com Dining Restaurant Reviews Click on photos (except logo) to see them full-size
DOT COM DINING A Look At San Gabriel Valley Restaurants by SanGabrielValleyMenus.com
Okay, so you’re driving along the 210 freeway and you see Irwindale Ave. You think to yourself, Irwindale, (naturally). You realize there’s a brewery there (you can’t miss it, it’s the big steel vats on the south side of the freeway). If you live in the area, you think “Costco.” And you probably know that a few years ago, in 1987, Al Davis took a lot of money ($10 million) from the city and it received nothing in return (oops!). You might know that there are a few rock quarries in the city (three of the members of the Board of Directors for the City’s Chamber of Commerce work for aggregate companies or rock product companies, according to the Chamber’s website). If you’re really up on the city, you might even know that the population is only 1,442 and there are more than 700 businesses, roughly 1 business for every 2 residents. There are no schools in the city. Residential land use is less than 1% of the total city area (by comparison, vacant land use is more than 5%, according to the city’s website). So as you drive by Irwindale Ave., you’re probably not thinking to yourself, “I need to get off here, this is a hot bed of restaurant activity.” Well think again.
In the first place, there are, surprisingly, quite a few restaurants along this street. In the second place, a good portion of Irwindale Ave. is actually in Azusa, as is the subject of this column. Today, I’m writing about Dagwood’s Deli Grill, at 251 S. Irwindale Ave. (626) 334-1341. Owner Jeff Harrison opened Dagwood’s a year ago this month. Being Irwindale Ave., he gets his share of truckers, and since he’s a rider and fan of Victory motorcycles (his sister, who has worked there in the past and is slated to return soon, rides a Harley), Dagwood’s is biker friendly, too. But he also gets his share of suits, from these 700 local businesses. In fact, while I was there having lunch, Jeff was fixing up a big order of more than two dozen sandwiches for a local printing company, picked up by a suit (wearer) who was taking it back to the office for the company staff.
Dagwood’s is known for providing lots of food for not lots of money. The Famous Dagwood Burger consists of two 1/4 pound hamburger patties, four slices of cheese, topped off with a Polish sausage, yet it costs less than $5.00. On the breakfast menu, all of the omelettes are 4-egg omelettes, starting at just $4.15. There’s a daily lunch special, a quarter pound cheeseburger with fries and a small drink for just $4.99. Another daily special, a six-inch cold sub that comes with chips and a small drink, is also just $4.99.
I’ve eaten at Dagwood’s before today, with my wife; I had the Philly Cheese steak sandwich, my wife had the Pastrami Dip. I remember my wife commenting to the waitress that she was really happy because the pastrami, of which there was plenty, was really thinly sliced, just like she likes it. The waitress said that’s the way she sliced it, every day, because that’s the way she likes it. I enjoyed my Philly cheese, and heard Jeff telling a customer today that he’s had customers from Philadelphia come in and tell him that it’s better than you get in Philly.
Jeff’s customers love Dagwood’s. Four members of the LA County Fire Dept., which services Irwindale, came in for lunch while I was there, and I heard the senior officer telling a couple of the guys, who’d never eaten there before: “If you don’t like it, I’m buying.” They ordered their food to go, so I didn’t see the outcome, but based on my experiences there, his confidence was not misplaced.
Today, I ordered a triple-decker sandwich. I asked for roast beef and turkey, on white bread, with American cheese and potato salad on the side (my choice was potato or macaroni). I also ordered some fries. I was kind of hesitant to order the fries, because I seemed to remember that my wife and I didn’t finish the fries when we split them. I was right. It’s a big order of fries. Note to self…go to Dagwood’s with somebody, so you can share the fries.
I got my sandwich, and was just blown away. I didn’t have a tape measure, but I think this sandwich was closer to 5 inches tall than 4. I’ve never had a sandwich this tall. I could barely get my mouth around it, and I have 7 sisters and two brothers, and hundreds of co-workers over the years, that will tell you, that’s saying something. Another thing about the sandwich, I couldn’t finish it. I can’t tell you the last time that happened. Sure, I had a side of potato salad and half an order of fries with it, but I’m not the kind of person that leaves part of a sandwich, salad and fries notwithstanding. It all gets eaten. It didn’t this time. I did make a couple mistakes ordering though…I forgot to say no tomatoes. And note to self two…when getting a triple-decker, order the bread toasted. The bread is so fresh, that when you try to scrunch the sandwich down to fit in your mouth, it just kinds of falls apart. Fortunately, each table has its own napkin dispenser. Now here’s the shocker, this sandwich, tasty and overwhelming as it was, is just $5.50. The Dagwood Club, with ham, turkey, bacon and cheese, topped with Ortega green chili and tomato, and also a triple-decker, is just $5.75. And if you visit the restaurant’s web page, www.sangabrielvalleymenus.com/dagwoods.htm, you can not only view the entire menu, but you can print yourself up a coupon good for 10% off the lunch items on your check. So that $5.50 triple-decker now rings in at under $5.00. You’re not going to find a better sandwich for the price, even without the coupon discount. At least, I haven’t, and I have a little experience eating. Stop by and say hi to Jeff, and have yourself a meal. But don’t be surprised when you have to ask for a box to pack up some of your food to go. Dagwood’s is definitely worth a foray up to Irwindale (okay, Irwindale Ave., in Azusa). But be sure you go when they’re open – they close at 3pm on weekdays, and don’t open on the weekend at all.
Bill Coburn is owner of SanGabrielValleyMenus.com, a restaurant website featuring dozens of restaurant’s menus, as well as downloadable coupons. He has nearly 20 years experience in the restaurant business, and has been eating for much longer than that.
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