Not a Greasy Spoon: Rick’s City Diner

. April 30, 2018.
Rick_s-sign-(2)

Rick’s City Diner
5333 Monroe St. Toledo 43623
419-720-9555
7am-3pm, Monday-Saturday.
7am-2pm, Sunday.

The Short Course:

Kid-friendly: Yes.
To avoid wait: Anytime, but weekend mornings can get busy.
Noise Level: Moderate.
Bathroom amenities: Changing station.
High chairs? Yes.
Got milk? Yes as well as a variety
of juice.
Kids’ menu? Yes; breakfast and
lunch options.
Allergy info: It is difficult to prevent cross contamination as they only have one grill. However, they do not use any peanut oil and gluten free bread is available.

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I know I have said this before, but I continue to be amazed at the delicious, locally owned restaurants in the Toledo area. Toledo has always had an abundance of eating establishments, and it boasts wonderful restaurants with a great selection of ethnic foods, as well.  With a rare free Saturday, the kids and I recently tried out a new place for lunch. Well, new ONLY to us.

Diner in name only

Right or wrong, I have usually equated “diner” with “greasy spoon” and, perhaps, not the best well-kept place.  I mean that in the most endearing way. Greasy spoon, a colloquial term, refers to an establishment that is usually inexpensive and generally offers fried food, burgers, chili and other “comfort” foods. I LOVE a great diner when that’s what I’m in the mood for.

Given that understanding, we were quite surprised when we stepped into Rick’s City Diner. It wasn’t what we had expected from a “diner.” After enjoying our dining experience and talking with owner Rick Salem, he explained it is a “diner” in name only.  Now everything made sense.

Warning: You could become a regular

Basically, just put the idea of anything close to a typical diner out of your mind. Yes, there is a long dining counter with high chairs that you would expect at most diners, but that is all the “diner” you will find in this restaurant. Especially on a sunny day, you will love all the windows. The dining area is very open and bright with a fireplace and partial wall in the middle that serves as a divider between two sides of the restaurant.

“It’s a hangout. It’s a place where you always see people you know,” said Salem. And true to that statement we did notice a couple guests who ran into friends as well, and the waitress knew the regulars sitting behind us. “I wanted something locally owned,” said Salem who had no interest in opening a franchise.  His first restaurant opened in 1986 and with each move to a new location he would “go back to school,” per say, as he traveled the country and spent time with mentors always honing his craft and his concept, always wondering how he can improve upon it.

Mr. Salem said he uses natural foods; everything is fresh and nothing is frozen. His menu includes a note to patrons promising only the highest quality, finest meats, never powdered or liquid eggs (eeks…didn’t realize some places do that!), homemade pancake, waffle and French toast batter, etc. His Albacore tuna doesn’t come cheap, nor does his coffee, but if you appreciate good food, you will notice the difference with everything you try.

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Kids have a menu, but they’ll want yours

For kids 10 and under there is a breakfast and lunch menu with typical options such as grilled cheese, hot dogs, chocolate chip pancakes, etc. with prices ranging from $3.79 to $5.99 including a side and beverage. The adult menu is expansive with options including sandwiches, salads, specialty breakfast items, omelets, French toast which may make your children jealous. According to Salem, the majority of kids order off the regular menu.

My youngest went for the homemade chocolate chip pancakes with a couple eggs while the rest of us enjoyed lunch options. However, Salem said they are probably best known for their seven different Eggs Benedict options. I already know I am going back for the Crab Cake Benedict for $12.99. At Rick’s you know you are getting what you pay for, and more.

I enjoyed their homemade chicken salad served open face on a English Muffin topped with melted Gruyere cheese while my daughter opted for the California melt; a vegetarian option with a portabella mushroom, avocado, tomato and melted Swiss. My oldest son somehow devoured the fried egg BLT with avocado and fresh cut fries. It must have had a pound of bacon. He unsuccessfully tried to hoard his bacon, as I was sure we all got a taste, or two or three. Short story about Rick’s, we can’t wait to return.

Bottom Line: Rick’s City Diner is a “diner” only in name.  The attention to freshness and quality is evident in every bite. Portions are generous and the staff is pleasant. You’ll enjoy the casual, family friendly atmosphere and, though they have a kids’ menu, your younger ones may be tempted to order something off the regular menu instead.