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The Beach Gourmet: Ronnie’s Diner: Savor the Strip Mall

If ever there was an icon of modern-day LA, it is the ubiquitous strip mall, innocuous, functional and almost always screaming out for more vehicular spaces. A place where citizens cluster amid the ballyhoo of local merchantry, with coin-ops and mini-marts galore, and as a rule, a café or food stand of some kind.

Oftentimes the quality of my experiences at such eateries in said locations are a matter of fate, and, when a companion and I visited Ronnie’s Diner, located in a U- shaped mercantile establishment where Culver meets Braddock in Marina del Rey, lady luck must certainly have been beaming on us.

We arrived at Ronnie’s late morning on a Sunday for what now seems like an age-old tradition, the Sunday brunch, and it appeared that a good portion of Westside residents had like-minded intent, as this place was packed to the gills with shiny happy diners chopping and chomping their meals with an almost dance-like synchroni-city.

As we waited in line amid solos, duos, trios and quads, all nattering excitedly as they waited for a free table and feeding time, I began to wonder if this was going to be a case of carting off to another café. That, thankfully, was not to be, because my companion exerted some of her evident charm over a server, and in seconds we were seated at a typical dineresque table, replete with cutlery bucket and, simple accoutrements, and the whole event left me somewhat giddied.

This indigenous kitchen is vibrant, and the menu vast, with some slightly unorthodox (for a diner) healthy options listed under a section titled, without prevarication, Healthy Things.

As I perused this part of the menu, my companion’s eyes homed in on the regular section, and she chose Avocado and Grilled Tomatoes (eggs over grilled tomatoes served with sliced avocado, home style potatoes and sourdough toast, $6.75), still a healthy combination itself.

The menu has enough breakfast, brunch and lunch items to satisfy even the pickiest of patrons, with salads, sandwiches, burgers, eggs, pasta and more, all vying for attention.

The Healthy Things section itself had 10 breakfast items alone, including a Power Plate (five egg whites, veggies and black beans with steak or chicken and served with toast, $8.25), and a splendid-sounding Turkey Veggie Omelet (turkey breast, veggies, egg whites and fruit, no cheese, and served with a choice of home style potatoes, grits, brown rice, Spanish rice, pinto or black beans and toast, $7.25).

After going to and fro in my mind, I eventually chose the Veggie Royale (three eggs scrambled with mushrooms, zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, and served over brown rice with toast, $6.75)

Our dishes arrived in short order, were piping hot and very, very generous, with more than enough to satisfy even the most covetous of culinary devotees.

These meals were good and hearty, guilt- free and, enjoyed with a glass of fresh orange juice, a cup of joe, smiling service and delightful company, the experience at Ronnie’s Diner was a mid-morning joy for me.

At just $5-10 per head for a good wholesome brunch, you could say that I had been mall adjusted!

Ronnie’s Diner, 12740 Culver Blvd., MDR, 310.578.9399.

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