And yet our hour-long stay at Surfer Joe’s felt just fine. This is the kind of joint where you seat yourself, barrel up to the counter and order, then wait with one of those giant old-school number holders, while you watch the Dodger game on their wide-screen television. Surfboards on the walls, bamboo, framed copies of the Silver Surfer comic and pictures of guys tow-surfing huge waves at Jaws and other surf sites work toward making you forget it’s so hot outside the asphalt may just melt. Hell, with a Diet Coke in my hand and the screaming kids a few booths down the way I felt like I was kicking it by the Newport Pier.
Sure, there was no ocean, but on the other hand the grub was far better. Frankly, I had a preconception about what the food would be like, namely that it would be greasy, overly salty and unhealthy. I couldn’t have been more mistaken if I was a member of the ex-Bush Administration. The food at Surfer Joe’s is not only tasty but it’s also fresh and, depending on what you order, healthy as well. Not to mention that Joe’s is the place for these economic times; lunch specials will leave you full and happy for around six bucks, with choices of a personal size pizza or a heaping plate of spaghetti, along with a drink.
Eating spaghetti at a restaurant to me always feels a tad dull though; if I want safe, boring and predictable I’ll go see a Tom Hanks film. Besides, there were appetizers to try. Joe’s offers several, from the antipasto salad, which we didn’t try but looks great, to the wedge-cut potatoes, which we did. They were great, reminding me of nothing so much as the old potatoes my family used to get at Shakey’s as a kid but with probably half the grease. With the requisite ranch dressing they make half a meal in themselves. As we wait for our sandwiches to arrive I notice a framed clipping by the cash register—apparently I’m not the first person to review Joe’s, for the Daily Bulletin’s “Lunch with ’Lainey” has beaten me to the punch. Curse you “Lunch with ’Lainey.”
After I calm down the sandwiches arrive. I order the Wipe Out: roast beef, mozzarella and finely diced mushrooms and green peppers. Surprisingly, it’s fantastic, nice beef, hard delicious bread, with a copious amount of cheese and veggies. My girlfriend’s Original Veggie is even better; basically a fantastic salad with cashews, lettuce, tomato and onions in an Italian and mayonnaise dressing that is slightly spicy and delicious. Suddenly we’re done, full and still far from the beach. Lunch at Surfer Joe’s can take the sting out of that a bit.
Surfer Joe’s at 251 E. Redlands Blvd., San Bernardino, (909) 824-5523, open Mon-Fri 10AM-7PM, Thurs 10AM-8PM, Sat 11AM-8PM, Sun noon-6PM; Discover, AE, M, V