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Jun 6, 2005 04:25 PM

Sandwiches by Connal - Pasadena

  • s

Interested by some earlier posts on this board, and after a morning at the PCC Swap Meet, four of us hit Connal's for some lunch yesterday (Sunday). You order at the counter in- or outside, pay and they call your number. Many sandwiches and grinders, hot and cold, + burgers and salads and some Mexican meals are on the menu, few more expensive than $5. French dip is their thing, so two wanted that, one ordered a pastrami dip, and I got a beef and cheddar melt on sourdough. For drinks we tried a chocolate shake, a strawberry shake, one Mr. Pibb, and we decided to split two sets of frings. BTW, several semi-exotic shakes are offered as well, like cherry or mango or cookies-n-cream.

The sandwiches come wrapped in white paper and cut in half. The beef dips are good-sized, easily 8-10" long and piled high with an inch or more of very thin, roast beef . The meat is moist with a hint of garlic--is it pressed? probably not, yet...hmm and the generic white bun is fresh but otherwise unadorned with condiments; the bread absorbs some of the au jus, but none is served on the side. Neither person who ordered the beef dip finished it, citing the size. The pastrami dip was similar to the beef, with very thin moist meat, a couple of pickle rounds and some mustard; easy to eat, but not very authentic flavor, IMHO. The beef and cheddar had less meat and more grease, but was satisfying nonetheless, a kind of comfort food/cholesterol disaster.

The frings (fries + onion rings) were okay. One set of fries was overly sprinkled with seasoned salt, while the other was mysteriously lacking any. The fries were not outstanding, not very crisp. The onion rings on top of both were the thin crumby type (I prefer thick, battered style) and not very flavorful either. [Avocado fries are an intriguing item on the menu, but when asked, the man said they were "just fries served with an avocado sauce." "Guacamole?" he was asked. "Kind of..." he said, his voice trailing off and attention beginning to wain. We passed.]

The chocolate shake was slurped down and proclaimed good, but the fresh strawberry shake, for which we had waited a while, had an odd co-taste. Was it coffee or chocolate? We all tried it and settled on chocolate, presuming the residue of the other shake somehow got mixed in. In any case, it was disturbing enough for me to bring it back to the counter. The woman was indignant that it couldn't be mixed, strawberry and chocoloate or strawberry and anything else. I insisted that whatever it was, we all tasted more than just fresh strawberry but she again refused to consider this, shaking her head, looking past me. I left her with the shake (politely on the counter, not on her head, though a boy can dream) saying it was unsatisfactory, and she offered no replacement, not even a soda. There goes $3.25.

At roughly $9/pp and especially in light of the attitude, not a standout place. I don't know what I was expecting, but with the name "Sandwiches by Connal," I thought it might be a kinda haute couture of bread and meat meals, or some type of institution like Philippe's, offering something unique. Didn't find any of that, but it is a clean, affordable with a steady stream of customers.

1505 E Washington Blvd
Pasadena CA 91104
(626) 794-5018

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  1. your experience sounds pretty poor - i'm sorry.

    i went to college in pasadena, and sandwiches by connal was a staple of our weekend diets. an alternative to in-n-out, when we had a couple of extra bucks in our pocket. don't ask what we had for lunch when we had a couple fewer bucks in our pocket!

    anyway, the service back then (10 years ago) was fine. nothing special, but also nothing like you described with the milkshake. its sad to see institutions decline. also, i don't recall the prices being nearly so high. then again, i rarely ordered more than a sandwhich. water was adequate, and fries were extravagant....

    1 Reply
    1. re: lauren444

      As far as I know - and I go to Connal's a LOT - everything is pretty much as it has always been. I've always found the shakes to be pretty good. My usual call is the sprightly, cheerily artificial cherry shake, although there is also a lot to be said for the version that is essentially an entire ice cream sundae floating on a shake if you're in the mood.

      The grinders, thinly shaved roast beef or turkey or pastrami or whatever crammed into a hoagie roll with lettuce and a tart vinaigrette, are quite good for fast food. (For an extra few cents, they'll tuck in some ripe avocado too.) The fries are quite good if you manage to get to them in their first few seconds of life; the burgers are less good (Top's is the best option for those in Pasadena), although the patty melts can sometime catch me in the right mood. And the big nighttime crowds of church-group kids and students from the various local evangelical schools can be entertaining in their aggressive wholesomeness.

      I suspect I would never make a special trip to go to Connal's, but you could do a lot worse in a neighborhood restaurant.

    2. I got the philly cheese steak sandwich a couple months ago and it was incredibly salty, almost to the point of inedibility.

      The fries were pretty good, and the onion rings were so-so. I got a strawberry shake too, but didn't taste any chocolate in it.

      1 Reply
      1. re: bruthafez

        For cheese steak do youself a favor and go down the road to Fredo's on lake near the 210.

      2. The peanut butter banana shake is very good, and the sandwiches are alright. I had the onion rings once and wasn't crazy about them. I do like the general "Route 66" feel of the place. That said, that incident with the shake would be a lifelong dealbreaker if it had happened to me.

        1. We went to Connals yesterday morning as we love their breakfast burrito but this time we wanted egg sandwiches. The girl could not get the order right. It wasn't hard, fried egg and cheese on a roll for me and the same for my husband but on bread with bacon. Mine came on white toast with a tomatoe and my husbands ona roll with lettuce and tomatoe. Who the heck puts lettuce and tomatoe on a fried egg sandwich!
          Very disappointing and we had the screaming 2 year old twins in teh car so we couldn't go back in. Will never order anything for breakfast again but the breakfast burrito which is awesome.

          1. I have always thought that Connals was overrated. Decent - but overrated - especially for the price. When ever I am in that part of town I always opt for Buritto Express - which is about a block east of Connals. Not the same style of food obviously, but one of my favorite places in LA.