Billy's Grill in Sherman Oaks
The "Pastrami Sandwich" thread below started me musing about going to Billy's Deli in Glendale for a pastrami sandwich for lunch today. I did a search and found mixed reviews of both the deli and the sandwich (and besides, I was at Langer's just yesterday) but my search turned up Billy's Grill on the SE corner of Van Nuys and Magnolia. Almost uniform praise. So off we went. Their signage bills them as "gourmet hamburgers" and they do have ostrich, buffalo and lamb at $6.50 and venison and ahi tuna burgers at $7.50.
We stuck with the Billy's Deluxe, a quarter pounder with green leaf lettuce (not iceberg), tomato slice, red onion slices, mayo and housemade 1000 Island sauce. Choice of white or wheat bun, toasted. $3.95. Mine was cooked medium-rare as requested, with grilled onions as well. Overall a pretty good burger but the meat had no special flavor. Not as good as Boulevard Burger in Woodland Hills, IMO. French fries ($1.95) well-done were great skinny fries, crispy shell with a creamy interior. A very large basket. Better than Boulevard's thick fries. No free drink refills, however.
This place is in a corner mall with stools and 3 small tables. They did a brisk take-out business. I'd go back. NOW, right next door on Magnolia is a truly hole-in-the-wall Mexican place with no name that I could discover, just a sign saying "Mexican Food - Burritos, Tacos, Tortas and Fresh Fruit Drinks." This place was packed with a line out the door. The menu, listed on the wall, had only 8 food items with no prices shown. 2 tables. A large wall menu of fruit drinks. As we were standing on the sidewalk looking at the sign, trying to locate a name, a guy walking by told us it was a great place. I'm definately going for lunch but not at noon. Does anyone know the name and has anyone eaten there?
After reading your post, I made a beeline for the Mexican restaurant next door. Since I judge hole-in-the-wall Mexican places by their tacos, that's what I got. Normally, I sample asada and one other meat, preferably pastor, but the owner said they only had asada. That was not a terrible thing, because the asada was pretty flavorful. I was disappointed that the tacos included iceberg lettuce, but the flavor of the meat still came through. The salsa was a watery, not very spicy pico de gallo, which was disappointing after the great smokey rojos of King Taco and Taco El Llama. Tacos were decent sized and, I think, only $1 apiece. There is no menu listing prices, but 3 tacos and a juice came to $4.50.
With respect to the juice, they have a wall offering different types of smoothies, which I found a little odd. They did not have a lot of different fruits at the time (around 6 pm), but the owner made me a cataloupe juice (mistaking my asking if they had "watermelon" juice for "melon"). Unfortunately, the juice was rather watery and didn't have much melon flavor because he added both ice and water to the melon.
The owner was very nice, but I suspect that dinner is not the best time to go. I suspect that they have more food at lunch. (One possible benefit of going at dinner was that they actually pulled the marinated beef out of the refridgerator and cooked it up fresh in the back. I don't know if they do that for the lunch crowd.) I can understand the line at lunch. The place is very small, with two tiny tables and a counter.
When I asked what I should try the next time I come, he recommended the wet burrito and the sopes.
I hate places that don't offer soda refills, unless they keep the price down to a buck or so. Just was at Astro burger on Melrose and they have the nerve to charge $2 for a non-refillable soda (they don't tell you up front). Annoying and the food ain't all that.
That being said, Billy's has been around for ages and does a good fresh burger.