One would think that the food in a restaurant in business for over 50 years with steady and loyal customers would be pretty darned good. If the restaurant is Benji’s you would be correct. Located on Tustin Avenue off 17th Street, this place is a rare gem in the world of the traditional (dare I say “old-fashioned”) coffee shops.
I arrived after the normal lunch hours and the place was packed. I was still seated right away by a young lady with a charming smile. She brought me my beverage quicker than I could open my menu. I told my waitress Carolyn that in all my years in Orange County I had never been to Benji’s. She had several recommendations that were customer favorites and Benji specialties. I opted for the open-faced hot turkey sandwich with mashed potatoes and house-made giblet gravy. Tender sliced turkey, just the right amount of hot, good old white bread to sop up the gravy – even the coleslaw was just the way I like it – crunchy cabbage with a dressing that is just a little sweet.
Carolyn suggested that I save some turkey to take home for dinner because she insisted that I try her favorite dessert. When I saw it listed in the menu, I knew I had to have it. As a lover of all things Italian, how could I resist something called Lemoncello Marscarpone Cake for heaven’s sake??? It was even more delicious that it sounded!!
Even the gentleman at the next table was raving about his food. He has been going to Benji’s for years. I noticed he had ordered a chocolate milkshake that was in a glass that I swear was a foot and a half tall. As he walked by on his way out, he said “be sure to come back again and have the matzo ball soup. It is really great, and so are the potato pancakes”. This entire dining experience was delightful.
The one other thing – even the Arnold Palmer was perfect, with just the right mixture of lemonade and ice tea! Who could ask for more?!!