Rae’s a Dependable Diner in Santa Monica

Waitress Marcia Medina and Chef Paul Silva provide good food and service.

Rae’s is such a dependable diner on Pico in Santa Monica, that when we moved from West L.A. to Pacific Palisades in 1994, we continue to travel there for early morning breakfasts – and of course, diner coffee. Daily, the restaurant opens around 6:30 a.m. and closes at 2 p.m.

Chef Paul Silva, predates our family, he started working at Rae’s 46 years ago.

Every Sunday, he stands behind the grill, with his tall, white chef, hat and continues to cooking varying omelets and other breakfast dishes.  One of the omelet specials is eggs, bacon, mushrooms, Swiss cheese and onions ($10.95) that comes with toast, and potatoes. Some mornings I order the chili omelet, my husband orders the veggie scramble ($11.95) and “please bring a bowl of hot sauce.”

The booths haven’t changed since I first took my year-old child (now 31) to the dinner with a comedian friend, who introduced me to this child-friendly place.

Our three children, now adults, only occasionally join us when they’re visiting town. But waitress Marica Medina (who has worked there 28 years) always asks, “How the kids?”

This is a kid-friendly atmosphere. Spills, and accidents are a matter of routine for those bussing the tables.

When my kids were little, they often ordered the pancakes, waffles or the 2 + 2 + 2, two eggs, two pancakes and two sausage ($8.50).

When my father-in-law visited, he ordered the biscuits and gravy ($2.85). A picky eater, he cleaned the bowl.

One kid is a big fan of the burrito, specifying the filling, “potatoes, sausage and no beans” ($7.95). There’s the Hobo Breakfast that includes ham, bacon and sausage, three eggs and buttermilk hot cakes ($11.25).

The diner opened in 1958 and is located at 2901 Pico Boulevard. As one online reviewer said, “super-old school greasy spoon with great cheap food.”

Another warned that there can be long lines on the weekend, when people wait for a booth or a counter. No, this isn’t the kind of place to make a reservation—but the refills on the coffee cup keep coming. This place doesn’t take credit cards, only cash.

Portions are big and lunch offers a deluxe hamburger, with cheese and French fries ($8). If you want the half-pound burger, it’ll run you $10.75. I usually opt for the patty melt, which includes grilled onions, potato salad or coleslaw or French Fries ($10.50).

As you might guess this is not the place to ask for gluten-free options or substitutions. There are no vegan options.

“It is what it is—or as the menu proclaims “Breakfast Fast – Any Time.”

Remember to bring cash, and if you come during the busiest times on the weekend, you may have a wait. Mostly, just enjoy an old-time, old-fashioned family diner with super friendly staff.

Rae’s Diner is located on Pico in Santa Monica.

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2 Responses to Rae’s a Dependable Diner in Santa Monica

  1. Paula H Deats says:

    Another “local” landmark! Thanks for the reminder.

  2. 'joy' says:

    Since Mel’s (We still miss you, Bobbie) closed its doors, the Village (and the Palisades) is missing a casual family restaurant with rationally priced items and a basic menu. It’s sad that the rents are so high that the Village restaurants have to charge gourmet prices for casual meals in order to break even. I miss the days when we had a choice of several family style (affordable for the average family) places to grab lunch, breakfast, dinner and snacks in between.

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