Guess what? Everybody’s eating at CJ’s. And their menu is nearly as diverse as their clientele. On the front, it reads: CJ’s Café. ‘From the South to South of the Border.’
For breakfast you can get your basic bacon and eggs, omelet’s or egg sandwiches. The sandwiches are a great deal. They range from just over $4 to just over $6; they are really big; and they come with fries, fruit or cottage cheese.
They’ve got an awesome waffle and wings deal for $8.50; and, they’re dishin’ up soul food to beat the band: Red Snapper and Eggs or Catfish and Eggs, each at a little over $11; or Corned Beef Hash and Eggs at a little over $8.
I spoke with Jesse Cisneros, part of CJ’s namesake, for a little minute this afternoon.
Jesse’s Mom’s name is Jessica. She opened the place in 1988 and named it after herself and her son, Jesse – only she flipped the initials. She didn’t want anyone to get it mixed up with JC Penney.
Jesse tells me that back in ’88 the neighbors wanted some soul food on the menu but Jessica didn’t know how to make it. Determined to offer what the people wanted, she asked them to show her how it’s done. So, that’s just what they did. The soul food offerings at CJ’s came from the recipes of the grandmothers and grandfathers of folks who still come to CJ’s to enjoy that good home cooking.
The Mexican portion of the menu is nothing to sneeze at either. If you’re feeling spry, you can opt for Chorizo and Eggs, Platanos Con Crema y Frijoles, or the good ole stand-by that everybody knows - Huevos Rancheros. For those who don’t know, chorizo is a spicy type of sausage. Platanos Con Crema y Frijoles is Plantains with cream and beans. I love that stuff!
The burritos are enormous and delicious. You can get them smothered with chili if you like; and, yes, menudo is available!
Lunch is a very affordable affair, with most of the sandwiches, burritos, burgers, soups and salads coming in at right around $6 or $7. The soul food entrees range in price from $10 to $12. These plates include Catfish, Pork Chops, Short Ribs or Oxtails, and come with a choice of two sides like black eyed peas, candied yams, and collard greens, among others.
Did I mention the staff? Wow. I feel like I’m visiting my small hometown when I come here. Everyone is so welcoming. Service is prompt and friendly. It seems like they have some kind of team policy because you will often get more than one server taking your order, bringing your grub, refilling your coffee – but it is never overbearing.
This place is one of my true faves. I always bring friends and family and so far, everyone has been charmed. Nothing fancy. Just solid affordable good home cooking in a comfortable spot.
And, the thing I love the most about CJ’s is the same thing I love the most about this city of Los Angeles – the diverse nationalities that come together in one special place.
NEED TO KNOW:
CJ’s Café on Pico
5501 W. Pico Blvd
Hours: Mon-Sat 6:30 – 6:00; Sun 7 – 5
Limited parking behind the restaurant; Plenty of free and metered street parking
CJ’s Café Baldwin Hills
3655 S. La Brea
Hours: Mon-Sat 6:30 – 6:00; Sun 7 – 6
The restaurant has its own free parking.
CJ’s does not serve dinner.
(Jennifer Caldwell is a an actress and an active member of SAG-AFTRA, serving on several committees. She is a published author of short stories and news articles and is a featured contributor to CityWatch. Her column at www.RecessionCafe.wordpress.com is dishing up good deals, recipes and food for thought. Jennifer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.) –cw
Tags: Deals and Discounts, Jennifer Caldwell, CJ’s, soul food, Mexican food, Mid City, Pico, Restaurants
Vol 10 Issue 67
Pub: July 17, 2012