Mae’s Cafe… I used to drive past it all the time when I lived in Garden Grove. It’s situated right next to one of the most consistently busy In N Out Burger locations, and you can even see the Mae’s Cafe marquee from the 22 freeway! I was always curious about the unwavering blue and yellow sign and what lay beneath in the ordinary-looking restaurant. My best friend C was in town and wanted to meet up here to catch up over lunch — a divey diner, he called it. Mae’s Cafe is open 24/7 so he had plenty of high school memories of late-night meals with friends; maybe it was where all the cool kids hung out because I had never set foot in there until just last week.
When we first walked in, well… we were tackled by a bear hug from C. But then we were warmly welcomed by the woman behind the counter; a closer examination of her name tag revealed that she is in fact Mae of Mae’s Cafe! That was a great way to start our experience and I was looking forward to the food to come. I had done my research beforehand (read: looked up the menu online) and I knew I wanted one thing — THE MANLY MEAL. I kid, I kid, although that only $14 for steak, potatoes, AND a choice of pancakes, waffles, or French toast, my wallet was tempted to dive in. Challenge… not accepted.
Instead I went for my all-time favorite diner dish — steak and eggs. Mae’s offers a choice of sirloin, t-bone, New York steak, or porterhouse (or for the strong of heart, country fried), and I opted for the New York steak with my eggs sunny side up and runny. The steak arrived rare to my liking, though this particular cut was a tad chewy. Nothing a dip into luscious egg yolk couldn’t fix! These are all served with your choice of hash browns or lyonnaise (pan fried) potatoes as well as toast, English muffin, or biscuits & gravy. As you can see in the photos above, I went for the hash browns – extra crispy and a beautiful golden brown. Now my readers, I’ll bet you know me well enough by now that you can guess what I ordered for my bread accompaniment….
Not the prettiest plate in the world, the biscuits were absolutely drenched in a thick, white country-style gravy. The gravy was savory and hearty, but the texture was a bit odd — even visually you can tell it resembled cottage cheese. Still, the fluffy buttermilk biscuits underneath sopped up the all the flavors and were really comforting in a stick-to-your-ribs kind of way.
C ordered the breakfast fajitas — a hot skillet piled high with strips of steak, ham, onion, and bell peppers, and topped with a dollop of refried beans and mountain of cheesy scrambled eggs. It was a man-sized meal (though not the Manly Meal) served DIY with tortillas and salsa. C said it was difficult to choose between this and the John Wayne’s Favorite, but he seemed to have zero regrets as he dove into this sizzling platter.
Martin was in a lunch-y mood and decided to go for Le French Dip. Because adding “le” makes it more French, I guess. The menu described it as “thinly sliced beef on a French roll, served with au jus dipping sauce,” but as we soon discovered, the beef slices were generously thick. They seemed to be a bit dry, so he let them marinate in the piping hot au jus which perked them up and made for a more enjoyable sandwich. The fries sounded crispy as Martin crunched next to me in the booth we shared, never offering me a single fry. :( The sandwich came with a pickle (reasonable) and a carrot stick (odd?).
The conclusion? It was a divey diner as promised. But the staff was no-nonsense yet attentive, the food was decent, the iced coffee was pretty good, and most importantly, it was a great place to share a booth with friends and enjoy a leisurely conversation over breakfast. Or lunch. Or dinner. Or any meal really, since they never close. Definitely better than Denny’s, that’s for sure!
Check out Mae’s Cafe: maes-cafe.com
9062 Trask Ave
Garden Grove, CA 92844
See their Yelp reviews here!