Restaurant Review: Mission Valley’s “San Diego Home Cooking Restaurant”

by on August 5, 2011 · 24 comments

in Culture, Popular, San Diego, The Widder Curry

“SAN DIEGO HOME COOKING RESTAURANT”   – Mission Valley – (where “LOVES” used to be)

For the past several months, I have listened to a commercial advertising “San Diego Home Cooking Restaurant.” A lovely woman, with a decidedly East European accent has touted the home cooking of the four restaurants in the chain. Since all of those restaurants were far from my home in Ocean Beach, I have never tried them, even though the pictures of the meals served have been enticing. (Stephanie told us the owner was from Serbia.)

How pleased I was to see that the same restaurant is now located in Mission Valley – 967 Camino Del Rio South – when the old “Loves” restaurant used to be.

Two friends and I decided to try it out for breakfast this morning. We were seated almost immediately, and given menu’s. And then we waited, and waited, and waited for someone to offer us coffee, water, orange juice, etc. In fact, we were just about ready to walk out – after 25 minutes – when a delightful waitress – Stephanie – came and took our order. She told us what the specials were – although we had read them on entry to the restaurant. We gave her our drink order, and then we waited, and waited, and waited for them to arrive.

When they finally did, we gave her our order. I had a “Machaca scramble”; one friend had the special of the day, a “chili-cheese omelet; and the third person had a “Bacon and Two Eggs” order from the senior menu. (There are only 3 items on the breakfast menu for seniors.) She also ordered a cinnamon roll that was very large.

Once again we waited a long time before the meal was served to us, and although not hot, it was not cold either, and we did not send it back.

The orders are huge! The Machaca scramble had guacamole, sour cream, salsa, and bread or tortilla’s with it. In addition I had my choice of potatoes, fresh fruit, biscuit and gravy, cottage cheese, etc. (The omelets consisted of 4 eggs; two to many for my taste.) Although there was tomatoes, green pepper, etc. mixed with the Machaca, I would have been hard pressed to identify the meal as Machaca. It was tasty, but more like roast beef cooked with eggs. The Chili-cheese omelet came with a choice of items, and my friend ordered Biscuits and Gravy. That plate in itself was a meal. He said that everything was good and he might just order the Biscuit and Gravy as a meal next time. The senior meal was also filling, with eggs scrambled, bacon that was not cooked long enough, and an English Muffin. The Cinnamon Roll was large enough for the three of us, and there was some left to take home.

The total meal was $39.93, which included one coffee, one ice-tea and one tomato juice. Interesting to note that the ice tea was less money than the decaf coffee! At the bottom of the bill was a “tip” suggestion: 15% of the meal was $x.xx; 18% was $X.xx; and if you wanted to tip 20% that was also listed. A nice gesture when there are several people paying for their own meal.

My friends and I are of a mixed mind. I was ready to leave after the long wait; I was disappointed in the Machaca, my “measuring stick” of restaurants. My friends said that their meals were good and would come back again. The cinnamon roll was a bargain at $2.99. The biscuits and gravy can be had as a small order for $2.99 (1 biscuit, but a huge one) or a large order – 2 biscuits, for $4.99.

It seems to me that they have had enough time to iron out the kinks in the restaurant. The male that took us to our table should have brought us our drinks. The prices were reasonable – senior meal was $6.99; the Machaca plate was $9.99 and the Chili scramble was one of the specials of the day at $8.99. There was enough left over for another meal the following day.

I, however, will not return. My time is too valuable to sit around reading the menu; the wine menu, which is quite interesting, and watching the other people waiting to get their food. Too bad, because I shop in Mission Valley and it would be a nice place to have a snack before – or after – fighting the crowds.

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Terrie Leigh Relf August 5, 2011 at 12:52 pm

Thank you for the review. I will not go as a result, but if I’m with other people who insist upon it, I will expect to wait and hope I’m not starving and caffein-deprived!



judi curry August 5, 2011 at 12:55 pm

Hi Terrie,
There was a lot of food; but nothing worth the wait. Had the left-over Cinnamon roll for breakfast today; it still tasted fresh after 20 seconds in the microwave.


Ernie McCray August 5, 2011 at 1:27 pm

The big question for me as I decide whether or not to go: was the sexy woman on TV there (smile)? Anyway, after reading this I’m as hungry as I can be.


judi curry August 5, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Funny you should ask, Ernie, because I asked the same question. She is there – sometimes – but wasn’t there when I was there. If you are hungry, you won’t be when you leave there. Just bring a good book, and enjoy!


Ro August 5, 2011 at 1:28 pm

I’ve tried their restuarant in La Mesa and also in Escondido. The wait time varies but is usually slow. The menu items are good, but nothing to write home about. Judi’s machaca measuring stick is my meatloaf; and I found their meatloaf strange. Not at all what I expected or liked. I would love to see them succeed, but think they need to improve their service, review their menu and have someone taste test. In their defense, Europeans take meals seriously and take their sweet time with them, so they may not see that slow service is a problem. The long and short of it is I don’t go to their restaurants unless someone else wants to try it.


Zach on the side August 5, 2011 at 6:15 pm

Good review. I’d like to have heard how many customers there were at the time. You mentioned that you were seated immediately. Was the place mostly empty? Mostly full? That would shed light on the waiting time.

For decent prices and large portions, for some people that’s worth the wait. Or for some people some of the time. If the quality of the food was satisfactory, which you deemed “not,” some people are as nonchalant about waiting for their meals as the employees seemed to be about serving them. Some people always carry a book with them.

I too found myself to be hungry after reading your review. Now about “the male that took us to our table…”


judi curry August 5, 2011 at 6:35 pm

The restaurant was 3/4 full. The male that sat us was not at the front desk when we came in; but in was only a few minutes when he was back. In seating us, he did not ask if we wanted anything to drink. A fault of the management, I think. The restaurant is relatively large; but the bar area was closed so everyone was seated in the dining room, except for the one table out side. Ro’s comment – above – states the European influence on the service. But our server was born and raised in San Diego and it was breakfast, with places to go after the meal. It was just too slow. Perhaps the quality and/or quantity would ok if one does not expect too much.

I think the amount of food served was obscene. No one needs 4 eggs; even if they are small eggs. I only finished 1/3 of my my machaca; not sure if it was because it didn’t taste like any machaca I had had before; or if I was just full.


Zach on the side August 5, 2011 at 7:03 pm

OK. Just wondering why the staffperson’s “maleness” had relevance.


Server August 8, 2011 at 12:09 am

There are a lot of restaurants where the hosts do not take drink orders. This is one of those restaurants.


thinking out loud August 8, 2011 at 7:01 am

Wondering why you did not make eye contact or say something to staff as opposed to sitting for 25 minutes ? Most times a glance at staff or saying something solves the issue of being overlooked.
A second visit may be in order for you. As you know if you have read reviews on restaurants …THEY always go twice to be fair.


judi curry August 8, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Tried to make eye contact, but never could get anyone in our sight. If staff had come by, or within “hailing” distance we would have talked to them. But…in order to catch someone’s eye, they have to be there.

Sorry – I gave them a second chance by not walking out. But waiting for drinks; waiting for the order to be taken; and waiting to be served does not deserve another time.


Marie August 14, 2011 at 11:26 am

I had the same issue with the “wait” time. I also got seated immediately…but waited almost 10 min for a server to show up. (thank goodness i had my NOOK so that i could read). I asked a question on size of juice glass and ordered apple… then had to wait another 7 min for server to take my order after bringing juice. I ordered the Ham & cheese omelet with home fries and it was served medium temp as well. I had to ask when my food was coming… and I wasn’t the only one asking! 2 – 20 something males were sat after myself and another table, yet since they were flirting with server…got their food before us. I only get an hour for lunch, went at 11:30am and had to wait almost 40 min. before i got my food – Ridiculous wait time!!!!!! Good food though.


judi curry August 14, 2011 at 6:21 pm

If they only had one restaurant, or two, I could be more forgiving, but they have several and I can’t believe they haven’t ironed out the problems yet. Thanks for your feedback.


David Lange September 17, 2011 at 5:48 pm

Once we were seated after about 20 minutes in the lobby, we expected A+ service. NOT. When the waitress arrived we ordered our meals. My freind received her
meal and it was NOT her order, I got my order but had to wait, in courtesy for my
freind to get the meal she had ordered. When it FINALLY arrived, my food was
cold and I was NOT happy. My meal was mediocre AT BEST. Not an apology…
Nothing. The commercials they put on TV are BOGUS, there is nothing special
about this place, don’t waste your time. Find a real Mom and Pop homecooking
restaurant, check out your local neighborhood they are there.


judi curry September 18, 2011 at 11:14 am

Sorry your experience was the same as mine. Others I have talked to have said the same thing about this particular location, yet tell me the one in Santee and La Mesa are good. I won’t try them; too many good ones elsewhere. (Did you see my review of Denny’s on Rosecrans?) Judi


tee November 11, 2011 at 7:32 am

If wait time is the biggest concern why not go to wendys which is right next door I believe they will have your food ready in less then a min u can seat yourself and eat right away haha wait time comes with any sit down restaurant. Think about it this way either u wait 20mins to an hour to be seated at a popular restaurant(ex: check out the line downtown at sushi deli for dinner service people are literally waitin outside ) or you get seated right away and wait. have a conversation catch up with your friends etc. I feel like if you are at a resturant a wait should be expected otherwise hit a fast food joint. Patience is a virtue :)


Dan White March 29, 2012 at 12:49 pm

Wow, we just returned from our first visit at this place. It will be our last. Huge portions of poorly cooked, warm food served. Same old succatsch vegs as in the 50’s. One branch of fresh broccoli would have been welcome. The meatloaf tasted like it was preprocessed and unpalatable. Ribs, huge beef ribs all tendon and fat with a pint of bottled BBQ sauce poured over them. I’ve eaten at truck stops and at least you got home made mashed potatoes and gravy rather than all this prepared stuff, and I would not want to insult any truck stop. They’re gourmet compared to this unholy mess. Serve decently prepared food, with smaller portions or pack up and go home.


Petra July 11, 2013 at 3:44 pm

“Lovely women with accent”? I can’t reach for the remove fast enough to turn to another channel when this ad comes on. The high-pitch voice combined with the strange accent is utterly annoying and a turn-off.


Mitsfits May 24, 2014 at 9:59 am

My family and I have been here a few times ONLY for breakfast. I know it’s hard to get breakfast wrong, and in saying that, we’ve always had a pleasant experience. Just reading the lunch and dinner menus make me wonder why anyone would even try this place outside of breakfast–I’m not much of a 50s diner eater myself. Also a rule of thumb, if you want Mexican breakfast–go to a Mexican restaurant or you’ll always be disappointed. Still, to be fair, I would certainly go back for traditional American breakfast. Breakfast is well prepared, inexpensive and tasty. I’ve never had issues with the wait staff or waiting. When its me and my husband, we just pop into the bar to eat breakfast while enjoying an game on TV. (If you ever make it to this place, check out the artwork in the bar–soo cute!)


Richard St.Hilaire March 17, 2015 at 4:33 pm

We have tried this place twice and not pleased with the food or service but we have liked their New Centre City Cafe which was their first location. But not today, we arrived arould 3PM with many tables left a mess and just a few people eating but a server took us to a table that was clean and then we just sat there for ten minutes until another server came over to see what we wanted to drink and started to run off when I said were ready to order well she said I’m busy with two tables and walked off returning several minutes later. We ordered the special of Corned Beef & Cabbage that looked so good on the computer. Several minutes later the soup and salad arrived and they were wonderful but the bread which is usually wonderful was old and so we left that alone. Then the special arrived which sure wasn’t special. The meat was over cooked dry and hard. Did the server come by to see if everything was alright, no. My guest had put all the over cooked day meat on the bread plate so she could see the problem but said nothing. I asked for the check and told the woman at the desk this meal was unfit to ead. We will never stop at any of the San Diego Home Cooking Cafe’s again.


Janet Schlag April 10, 2017 at 8:33 pm

I am writing for my neighbor who went to SD Home Cooking after they found out TGIF was closed out. The lady and her mother ordered liver and onions with mashed potato. Come with a large side salad. Well first the salad dressing was wrong the drink order was wrong then the liver was more fit for shoes. Baked potato not mashed. The fries had something in them not all French fries. Keep in mind everything requested took a long time to resolve each in its own time frame. The fries they were told had onion ring in them, nope, the server then said it must be chicken, didnt look like chicken to them. The server was sassing the customer. Finally she grabbed everything up and said it was taken care of. I won’t be going there and either will they


judi April 11, 2017 at 1:15 pm

This original review was done some time ago. I went back last year, because I sometimes like to revisit those places that did not do well originally. I had the same experience the second time as I did the first. Interesting that it is still there and they have not changed. Thanks for the update.


Nikki Nicholas July 19, 2017 at 10:28 am

Came to restaurant on 7-18-17 @ 3pm No one at the front of restaurant to seat you. After several minutes a waitress seated us. We ordered two Pork Chop dinners ,salad two split. Salad brought no extra plate after awhile the waitress informed us their were no pork chops even though they are a daily special. Ordered Turkey dinner baked potato and chicken fried steak extra gravy and fries. The turkey dinner had a teaspoon of gravy and the baked potato was at least a week old ,no cranberry sauce a staple for turkey dinners, no utter for potato and no bread offered. The chicken fried steak had enuf fries for 5 people (a waste). Asked waitress for butter and coffee refill, after several minutes she brought the butter, and Luke warm coffee. The Por Chops, gravy, baked potato is the cooks fault, the slow inadequate, sloppy, inattentive service is the waitress fault. Someone is not minding the store a very dissatisfied customer.


judi July 19, 2017 at 12:31 pm

Sorry to hear it hasn’t improved since I was there. (I did try it a second time, and had the same experience.) They must be doing something right because they are still in business, but I won’t be going back again. Sorry you had a bad experience.


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