a toledo staple

. January 29, 2013.

Al Smith’s Place has been dishing up generous portions of homemade comfort food for over 20 years. The locally owned restaurant moved from its Lewis Ave. location about 10 years ago to its current home in the plaza on Executive Pkwy. and Secor Rd. Though nothing fancy, it’s clean and bright with green and white décor, making me feel as though we were relaxing in someone’s kitchen.
Tables and bench seating fill every available space. There’s a breakfast bar as well. Locals stop in regularly to find good food at an affordable price, friendly service, and out-of-this-world pies. Oooh, those pies!
Keeping up with the times
Current owner Pete Hui has kept things much the same since purchasing the restaurant six years ago. “We get a lot of regulars here”, said Hui. He appreciates his loyal customers who have come to love the chili mac, meatloaf dinners, roasted chicken, liver and onions, among other favorites. He continues to reach out, however, to younger families and UT students with the types of food they enjoy.
In doing so, he’s enhancing the menu. “I try to run specials on the board periodically”, Hui said. If people really like something, he works it into the main menu. “It’s all about what customers want.”
Affordable options for everyone
Al Smith’s is open seven days a week, and serves breakfast all day long.  Their large menu definitely makes it hard to decide. Add to that about another 13 specials on the board. I personally LOVE homemade comfort food, so I was all about the Mama’s Down Home Cookin’ portion of the menu. Dinners included rolls, veggie of the day, potato of choice, and a salad. Most meals were in the $7-$9 range—talk about a lot of bang for the buck on a family budget!
The kids’ menu ranged from $2.09 to $3.99 and included the basics like chicken tenders and burgers, but also chicken and dumplings and spaghetti. Drinks were $1.09 extra. The portions on the main menu were generous; my older two may split a meal from the main menu next time.
I loved the chicken and dumplings and my husband tried one of the daily specials—a Reuben sandwich with a twist. He started his meal with a bowl of homemade great Northern bean soup and cornbread. I never dreamed my kids would like it, but there was little left for dad by the time they were through. It was all good.
Al’s was a pleasant break from the usual noise and commotion in many restaurants. People were actually conversing, paying attention to the people they were with. What a concept! I was floored when my boisterous eight-year-old said, “It’s peaceful here.” This, coming from the child who provides 50 percent of the noise in
our home.
I would be remiss not to mention their mouthwatering, sensational pie selection. I have had them many times over the years, and they are every bit as good today as they have always been, if not better. The evening we had dinner, there were 17 to choose from! We of course couldn’t agree on which flavors, so we ordered three slices to share. My personal favorite is the coconut cream. But maybe blueberry, pecan, or butterscotch is what tempts your taste buds. At the very least, get a slice to go. 

Bottom Line: Al Smith’s has been around over 20 years because of its friendly service and affordable,
generously portioned, homemade entrees. Stop in for a quick bite, or a
leisurely meal.