Thrill of the Grill

By Bill Gerdes

Posted November 24, 2010 in Eats

Rock-A-Billy Deli & Grill is the sort of joint I’d hit once or twice a week if I lived close. It’s the type of place you might ride the bikes to on a Sunday morning for breakfast, and if you try the Hungry Rockabilly plate, expect a pancakes and pork product overload. Or maybe you might stop by for a quick nosh of chili cheese fries or the green chili quesadillas. In short, it’s a cozy neighborhood place; nothing fancy or highfaluting.

It’s a bit of a stretch to call it a deli; delis sell cuts of meat, homemade salads and cheeses, while Rock-A-Billy serves up chips and caramel corn. Nice, sure, but don’t go in expecting real deli food, cuz you’ll be bummed. The grill side of Rock-A-Billy lives up to its name though. One especially “rocking” aspect is the proximity of the grill to the diners. It’s close, open and I could hear my burger sizzle as it cooked, giving off pleasant aromas of a kitchen at work.

It’s not just sizzle though. The menu here transcends the cheesy monikers given for many of the items. The Hotrod Chicken Burger? Really? The Hound Dog is an awfully cutesy name for a hot dog, but this is a damn fine hot dog. In fact, it reminds me of the contraptions they serve up in Baja to borrachos leaving the all-night bars. Namely they’re wrapped in bacon (bacon!). They also have the grilled onions, tomatoes and mustard that make the late night bacon-wrapped dog one of the underrated culinary experiences on the planet.

Their burgers aren’t half bad either. I went with the Rockabilly Burger combo. Now, not to be tacky, but it bears noting that the prices at the Rock-A-Billy are recession-friendly. My combo (fries and a drink) went for $5.95, about the price of a combo at Burger King or Jack in the Crack, but far better. The Rockabilly comes on a toasted wheat bun with tangy caramelized onions, green sprightly sprigs of lettuce, smoky bacon and tomato. It’s a respectable, honest and altogether hard-working burger that satisfies, if not wows. There’s a current scourge on the dining scene with fries (coat ’em in gunk, call them seasoned fries and charge a buck extra). But at least the Rock-A-Billy doesn’t raise the price for shaking some Lowry’s on their spuds. On the plus side, they’re hot and salty. Hot and salty goes a long way with fries.

If you can tear yourself away from the tricked-out faux-’50s memorabilia, definitely hit one of the outside tables, which seem cozy and semi-secluded. I didn’t and spent a chunk of my meal watching Don’t Forget the Lyrics, the latest offering from post-Sugar Ray Mark McGrath. The dad and daughter team won $10,000. I won some tasty grub.

Rock-A-Billy Deli & Grill, 9047 Arrow Rte., Suite 190, Rancho Cucamonga, (909) 948-9140. Mon-Fri 7:30AM-6PM, Sat 7:30AM-3PM.


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