Martinez: Mr. T's Coffee Shop – The perfect dive … with respect
The moment you open the door and out of the Martinez heat, the waitress asks “Something to drink for you?”
Mr. T’s closes at 2 and my business in town never got me there in time. Last week Mr. T was a priority, but still arrived too late for breakfast which I was craving.
“We could make you some biscuits and gravy” the waitress offered.
They were wonderful. The gravy was full of large chunks of sausage. Hard to tell what the biscuits were like since the gravy coated them like Vesuvius covered Pompeii. They did the job of mopping up the very tasty gravy. This is the best version of this dish I have ever had … ever … soooo satisfying.
The coffee came in a huge white mug with a spoon sticking out of it. It was GOOD diner coffee Refills were offered. In addition to the metal cream pitcher there flavored creamers like Irish cream and French vanilla
Mr. T’s is the dive of dreams … and ironically a large poster of Gottfried Helnwein’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” covers part of the wall.
The dinner is filled with workers from the refinery across the street, cops and other local workers. It is classic American breakfast, burgers and sandwiches. The food is tasty, the prices are reasonable, the servings are generous and the waitresses are nice.
Breakfast prices include coffee. Lunch prices include fries and a large drink.
A few years ago I described a small Russian deli where the people hardly spoke English as a ‘hole-in-the-wall’. Somehow the owner heard about it and I caught his post before it was deleted where he apologized for the way the place looked and said he had plans to move soon to a nicer spot. He thought it was a criticism and didn’t understand the term
I have never used ‘hole-in-the-wall’ or “dive’ in my posts since. Hardworking people own these places who are proud of their little restaurants and the food they make.
But Mr. T … that poster says they know what they are … they are proud … they are the greatest dive … the star of dives … as great as Monroe, Bogart, Dean and Elvis in that poster … maybe a little broken … but this is dive heaven.
If you drive by Mr. T’s when it is closed … you would think it had long ago been abandoned. The paint is faded, the parking lot gravely and uneven. It is across the street from the refinery.
The inside is cabin-like with ceiling fans. A table in the corner holds an old-style TV tuned to network morning shows. Customers drop off their newspapers on the table for others to read.
There are two counters … one with six stools, the other with three. Another four tables hug the walls.
It has character. It has earned the title 'dive' ... in the best possible way.
So I describe Mr. T’s as a dive with respect and admiration. It is a snapshot of the past like that poster. There are too few of these places left.
Like the lyrics of “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” … “The joy that you find here you borrow. You cannot keep it long it seems”
Most of the menu is in the first link.
Mr T's Coffee Shop
35 Howe Rd, Martinez, CA 94553
Breakfast specials include coffee
I think these come with hash browns or home fries and toast
There were the usual eggs with bacon, sausage links or sausage patties
Omelets – cheese, Denver, ham
Steak and eggs $10.25
Pork chop and eggs $9.95
Pancakes 1- $2.50, 2 - $3.50, 3 - $4.50
Breakfast burrito $4.75
1 biscuit with gravy and 1 bacon slice, sausage patty, or sausage link $3.25 … for two of each $5.95
Patty melt $4.25
Grilled cheese $4
Pork chop $4.50
Linguisa or polish on a French Roll $5.75
Fried chicken sandwich $5.75
Roast Beef $4.25
Egg salad $4.15
Lunch specials come with fries or potato salad and large drink
Curly fries or onion rings add $1
Whopper – 1/2 lb $7.45
Mr. T burger (1/3 lb) $5.75
Philly cheese steak $7.25
Meat Loaf $6.95
Pork chop $7.95
Green salad $2.95
Chef salad $5.95
Grilled chicken salad $6.25
There are a few more combos, but they didn’t have a take out menu, so this was the best I could glean from my quickly scribbled notes.