Remembering Cafeteria Fare

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DawnT
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2011/03/06 23:39:45 (permalink)

Remembering Cafeteria Fare

I guess this is the appropriate place to post this, not being Roadfood indies. We were looking over the menu of the Picadilly cafeteria website a few days ago. It appears to be the only cafeteria chain left down here. We've been looking for somewhere to take my Dad to and he's been bringing up cafeteria food for a while. The menu was startling to see how much the cafeterias have changed. We took a look at Luby's website and seen much the same thing. For an industry that continued to serve the same comfort foods for most of my life from the 50's until the last one that we ate at in '2001, I suppose they finally have gotten along with the times. Offerings that I'd never imagine such as chicken fingers with dipping sauce, coconut shrimp, and all kinds of other, updated mains and sides, not to mention a lot more variety then I remembered are on the menus. Back when, I remember about 9 different chains over the years that all served about the same things with very little, if any variance in the recipes. It's nice to see that they're trying to compete with the casual chains, but it's a shame that so many of the old favorites have dropped of the menu that we grew up with. I suppose that kids nowadays would pitch a fit if you offered them okra and tomatoes or eggplant casserole instead of something fried for a vegetable or even plain mashed potatoes or brown betty or a cup of custard for desert. Anyone still have any functioning brain cells that recall the old offerings. I haven't compiled a list, but I think I can still pretty much call most of the serving line.
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    Heartbreaksoup
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    Re:Remembering Cafeteria Fare 2011/03/07 16:00:56 (permalink)
    Just this past week, I visited two of the Georgia cafeterias reviewed here at roadfood.com - Matthews in the Atlanta suburb of Tucker (as seen on Triple-D) and Yoder's Deitsch Haus in middle GA's Montezuma.  I don't know whether any chains, other than Picadilly, have survived, but Matthews and Yoder's still serve up the classics: iceberg lettuce salads, pot roast, pork chops, mashed potatoes, green beans, beets and really good desserts.
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    Foodbme
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    Re:Remembering Cafeteria Fare 2011/03/07 16:40:57 (permalink)
    Luby's used to be in AZ but they pulled out. Currently they're in TX, OK & AR. Checked their menu. They still have the old fashioned stuff mixed in with the neuvo entres. My Cafrteria favorites were always Carrot Raisin Salad, Waldorf Salad, Collards, Cornbread, Pot Roast & Meatloaf.
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    Foodbme
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    Re:Remembering Cafeteria Fare 2011/03/07 16:49:44 (permalink)
    I would also classify "Meat & Three" places in the same classification as Cafeterias. While some don't have the variety of a Cafeteria, the serving line concept of pick & choose is still there. \ Meat & Three's are all over the South. I just pulled up Tennessee. There are other states listed also. 
    Go to :  http://www.meatandthree.com/tn/
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    smokestack lightning
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    Re:Remembering Cafeteria Fare 2011/03/07 21:14:49 (permalink)
    Foodbme

    I would also classify "Meat & Three" places in the same classification as Cafeterias. While some don't have the variety of a Cafeteria, the serving line concept of pick & choose is still there. \\
    Meat & Three's are all over the South. I just pulled up Tennessee. There are other states listed also. 
    Go to :  http://www.meatandthree.com/tn/

     
     
    Great link to the website. Thanks.
     
    But I would politely disagree about lumping "meat and three" places as cafeterias. While some have buffet type lines many do not. They really are a separate category. Good example would be the Cupboard in Memphis.
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    ces1948
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    Re:Remembering Cafeteria Fare 2011/03/07 22:36:34 (permalink)
    I recently saw a Piccadilly still open in Melbourne, Fl but didn't have time to stop. I'll be going through again later this week and I'm going to try it out if I have time. We used to go to Piccadilly quite a bit when we lived in Kingsport,Tn . There were lines out the door and down the mall corridor on Sunday's after the churches let out. The food was as traditional as you could get, They always had a roast beef, fried chicken, hamburger steak etc along with a dozen or more veggies. This was up through 2009 which was when we moved to Florida.
     
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    DawnT
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    Re:Remembering Cafeteria Fare 2011/03/07 22:41:06 (permalink)
    I thought it was an interesting term considering that basic, home cooking type fare has no longer category of it's own as in a family restaurant. This wouldn't be considered "casual dining" as that term is reserved for fern bars, seafood chains, and the like. Here in Miami though, there's plenty of steam table places where you can select you meal from the pans from soup to desert and sit down and dine. Only problem is it's Hispanic or other ethnic food and the buffet places that are usually chinese but carry a lot of non-chinese entrees also confuse the term, but both are equally described by "meat and three".  
     
    There's a Picadilly still open here. There are no others that I know of that have survived past '01. Picadilly was always the odd man out among the others with different tasting and prepared entrees by the same name. If you were used to the others, it was disappointing. 
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    ces1948
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    Re:Remembering Cafeteria Fare 2011/03/07 22:55:03 (permalink)
    I'm pretty sure I noticed signs on the Melbourne Piccadilly saying something like "Nothing over $7.99" I also read a few years ago that some Picadilly's had gone to AYCE format.
    I remember when I was much younger I thought cafeteria food was bland. I was told by someone that the cafeteria's didn't use much in the way of spices because the older people didn't like it.
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    Foodbme
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    Re:Remembering Cafeteria Fare 2011/03/08 00:47:26 (permalink)
    smokestack lightning

    Foodbme

    I would also classify "Meat & Three" places in the same classification as Cafeterias. While some don't have the variety of a Cafeteria, the serving line concept of pick & choose is still there. \\
    Meat & Three's are all over the South. I just pulled up Tennessee. There are other states listed also. 
    Go to :  http://www.meatandthree.com/tn/



    Great link to the website. Thanks.

    But I would politely disagree about lumping "meat and three" places as cafeterias. While some have buffet type lines many do not. They really are a separate category. Good example would be the Cupboard in Memphis.

    I've been to over a dozen Meat & Threes and they've all had Cafeteria type serving lines. I looked at the Menu from the Cupboard in Memphis and the Food they serve is the same type of food you would find in a Cafeteria.
    While Technically they can be different, many Meat & Three's operate like Cafeteria's. The major similarities are in  the Menus with regular items and daily specials as well as the foods they serve. They may not be Brothers, but they sure are 1st Cousins.
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    DawnT
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    Re:Remembering Cafeteria Fare 2011/03/08 02:22:31 (permalink)
    I'm not sure that I'm understanding this correctly. I'm getting the impression that what's being discussed is a very small restaurant with a limited steam table with about 4-5 full size pans. One daily meat entree and 3-4 vegetable sides. That would be similar to what you would find in a grocery deli here or gas stations. This sounds like a small town breakfast and lunch diner that's added a steam table for evening dinners and takeaways.
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    hatteras04
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    Re:Remembering Cafeteria Fare 2011/03/08 10:57:48 (permalink)
    We still have MCL around here.  As far as I can tell, the menu hasn't changed since I first went in the 70s.  They might have an occasional new entree but for the most part it is fried chicken, roast beef, a fish option, turkey and dressing, maybe a breaded and fried pork chop, a casserole, and sometimes spaghetti.  They have half size portions for seniors which they used to call the Jack Benny plate.  They have now changed the name to something else that I can't remember.
     
    http://www.mclhomemade.com/
     
    Also don't forget about roadfood favorite Gray Brothers in Indiana which is only a stones throw away from Poe's Cafeteria which I used to eat at more since there was one in Martinsville (now a walgreens) that was closer to home.
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    MellowRoast
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    Re:Remembering Cafeteria Fare 2011/03/08 12:01:09 (permalink)
    I love cafeterias, and, though I really miss Morrison's, I believe Luby's (my all-time favorite), Piccadilly, and Furr's are still going strong.  I miss the old S&W Cafeterias, too, which I believe were mainly in Tennessee & North Carolina.  Well, at least Southern states.
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    Re:Remembering Cafeteria Fare 2011/03/08 15:16:33 (permalink)
    hatteras04

    We still have MCL around here.  As far as I can tell, the menu hasn't changed since I first went in the 70s.  They might have an occasional new entree but for the most part it is fried chicken, roast beef, a fish option, turkey and dressing, maybe a breaded and fried pork chop, a casserole, and sometimes spaghetti.  They have half size portions for seniors which they used to call the Jack Benny plate.  They have now changed the name to something else that I can't remember.

    http://www.mclhomemade.com/

    Also don't forget about roadfood favorite Gray Brothers in Indiana which is only a stones throw away from Poe's Cafeteria which I used to eat at more since there was one in Martinsville (now a walgreens) that was closer to home.

     
    I love MCL, Fried Chicken and Mac n Cheese!!

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    Re:Remembering Cafeteria Fare 2011/03/08 17:16:53 (permalink)
    DawnT

    I'm not sure that I'm understanding this correctly. I'm getting the impression that what's being discussed is a very small restaurant with a limited steam table with about 4-5 full size pans. One daily meat entree and 3-4 vegetable sides. That would be similar to what you would find in a grocery deli here or gas stations. This sounds like a small town breakfast and lunch diner that's added a steam table for evening dinners and takeaways.

     
     Good meat n 3's have anywhere from 3-5 different meat choices. 7-9 veggies plus always their Mac and cheese everyday. Breads can be corn bread, muffins and roll. The desserts are usually sheet cakes (not always though),pies and puddings of some type. some have cobblers for whatever fruit is in season. Now each day they  feature one or two meats and
    veggies. Everyday is different. Some do spagetti and lasagna on Thur. They remind me of a little smaller Morrison's. same lines though.

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    Foodbme
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    Re:Remembering Cafeteria Fare 2011/03/08 17:28:06 (permalink)
    Curbside Grill

    DawnT

    I'm not sure that I'm understanding this correctly. I'm getting the impression that what's being discussed is a very small restaurant with a limited steam table with about 4-5 full size pans. One daily meat entree and 3-4 vegetable sides. That would be similar to what you would find in a grocery deli here or gas stations. This sounds like a small town breakfast and lunch diner that's added a steam table for evening dinners and takeaways.


    Good meat n 3's have anywhere from 3-5 different meat choices. 7-9 veggies plus always their Mac and cheese everyday. Breads can be corn bread, muffins and roll. The desserts are usually sheet cakes (not always though),pies and puddings of some type. some have cobblers for whatever fruit is in season. Now each day they  feature one or two meats and
    veggies. Everyday is different. Some do spagetti and lasagna on Thur. They remind me of a little smaller Morrison's. same lines though.

    That's my recollection as well. Like a Cafeteria but on a smaller scale.
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    BT
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    Re:Remembering Cafeteria Fare 2011/03/08 17:34:53 (permalink)
    I thought this thread was going to be a peon to high school and college cafeterias of old (when "mystery meat" reigned).  
     
    In that spirit, I owe my lifelong taste for Brussels Sprouts to academic cafeterias.  My Mom certainly never put them on our table at home.
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    Re:Remembering Cafeteria Fare 2011/03/08 17:36:54 (permalink)
    DawnT    here a review/link from Hollyeats, Menu also. Arnolds is a big deal with Music City Downtown lunch crowd. Every town seems to have Meat n 3's all over the South. hell we have two in our town alone.
     
    http://www.hollyeats.com/ArnoldsCountryKitchen.htm
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    smokestack lightning
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    Re:Remembering Cafeteria Fare 2011/03/08 17:42:32 (permalink)
    Foodbme

    smokestack lightning

    Foodbme

    I would also classify "Meat & Three" places in the same classification as Cafeterias. While some don't have the variety of a Cafeteria, the serving line concept of pick & choose is still there. \\
    Meat & Three's are all over the South. I just pulled up Tennessee. There are other states listed also. 
    Go to :  http://www.meatandthree.com/tn/



    Great link to the website. Thanks.

    But I would politely disagree about lumping "meat and three" places as cafeterias. While some have buffet type lines many do not. They really are a separate category. Good example would be the Cupboard in Memphis.

    I've been to over a dozen Meat & Threes and they've all had Cafeteria type serving lines. I looked at the Menu from the Cupboard in Memphis and the Food they serve is the same type of food you would find in a Cafeteria.
    While Technically they can be different, many Meat & Three's operate like Cafeteria's. The major similarities are in  the Menus with regular items and daily specials as well as the foods they serve. They may not be Brothers, but they sure are 1st Cousins.

     
    I have lived in the South in Georgia and spent large amounts of time in Mississippi and Tennessee. You are mistaken. I have been to dozens of meat and threes. Some have lines but many don't.  They have menus or a board listing the days offerings and one chooses. Again, the Cupboard in Memphis is a good example.
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    Re:Remembering Cafeteria Fare 2011/03/08 17:43:34 (permalink)
    Curbside Grill

    DawnT

    I'm not sure that I'm understanding this correctly. I'm getting the impression that what's being discussed is a very small restaurant with a limited steam table with about 4-5 full size pans. One daily meat entree and 3-4 vegetable sides. That would be similar to what you would find in a grocery deli here or gas stations. This sounds like a small town breakfast and lunch diner that's added a steam table for evening dinners and takeaways.


    Good meat n 3's have anywhere from 3-5 different meat choices. 7-9 veggies plus always their Mac and cheese everyday. Breads can be corn bread, muffins and roll. The desserts are usually sheet cakes (not always though),pies and puddings of some type. some have cobblers for whatever fruit is in season. Now each day they  feature one or two meats and
    veggies. Everyday is different. Some do spagetti and lasagna on Thur. They remind me of a little smaller Morrison's. same lines though.
     
    Sorry but many meat and threes do not have lines. Simple truth.


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    Re:Remembering Cafeteria Fare 2011/03/08 23:01:18 (permalink)
    I beg to differ on the meat and threes.  While some have the meat and veggies listed on a daily board (with cornbread or biscuits) many of the ones I've been to around here are like a smaller version of the cafeteria.   Also known as a "drag line" as my buddy calls em.  You drag your tray down the line and get your choices and your sweet tea at the end.  Side meat is optional (side meet is a piece of hard fried pork fat to chew on - tastes good).
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    DawnT
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    Re:Remembering Cafeteria Fare 2011/03/17 02:15:48 (permalink)
    I spent some time with my MIL up in TN on the phone this evening and we got to talking about these meat & threes. It's a term that she recognized immediately. Not a soul that I've mentioned it to down here has a clue what the term means. The conversation shifted to cafeterias and she brought up B&W cafeterias in Nashville and Madison and started talking about the bowls on the table in cafeterias. Bowls?
     
     Huh? From what I understand, the cafeterias there had a rotating lazy Susan type arrangement that the waitstaff made sure that all the bowls would stay full with several meat entrees and vegetables for a table. This was some sort of buffet? Anyone know anything about this? Apparently Morrison's took over the chain and retained the concept. We never had anything like this here and the local HD would have been doing purple fits if we did at a communal table.
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    Foodbme
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    Re:Remembering Cafeteria Fare 2011/03/17 03:18:54 (permalink)
    DawnT,
    It's a Southern Thang! when I lived in Pensacola Which is actually located in L. A. (Lower Alabama) Rthere was a place called Hopkins Boarding House that served "Family Style". When you came in you would be seated at a old Round Dining Room table with people you usually never saw before. Usually 8-10 people . You didn't place an order. the waitresses would just start bring platters of Chicken  or what ever the meat of the day was and bowls of side dishes, cornbread, biscuits and Sweet Tea. You just helped yourself. When the ladies saw you had about stuffed yourself, they would bring you dessert. Usually a slice of cake or Jello. No Guest Check, you just payed on the way out. The Sterns did a Review on this place years ago. 
    http://www.roadfood.com/Forums/tm.aspx?m=63546&high=Hopkins+Boarding+House
     
    #22
    David_NYC
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    Re:Remembering Cafeteria Fare 2011/03/17 14:01:06 (permalink)
    Can't formulate a thesis now just back in town, exhausted), but would like to point out the growth of buffet chains like Old Country Buffet, Golden Corral, Ryan's, Hometown Buffet, Country Buffet (and the rest of Buffets, Inc. brands).
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    ces1948
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    Re:Remembering Cafeteria Fare 2011/03/17 23:46:12 (permalink)
    I did get to try the Piccadilly cafeteria in Melbourne, Fl last week. They now have two prices on meals. $4.99 and $6.99 depending on the entree. Fried Chicken for example was $6.99. All meals are served with two sides and choice of bread. All desserts are the same price in the$1.50 range and all drinks are $1,25. They had 4 or 5 salads and a couple of soups, not sure whether these were priced separately or part of your choices for sides. I had a panko coated tilapia which was quite good and was a generous serving. There was a nice spiciness to the taste and I didn't use the tarter sauce I'd brought to the table. I had blackeye peas and cabbage  for my sides, Both were passable but the cabbage could have used a little something. I had jalapeno cornbread and a very good mango sweet tea but skipped dessert. Place was prenty emply with only about 3-4 tables occupied but it was about 1:30.
    Noticed on the way in while looking at the Piccadilly sign on the side of the building you could plainly see the outline of the old Morrisons sign underneath.
    I enjoyed it enough to make another trip.
    #24
    senor boogie woogie
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    Re:Remembering Cafeteria Fare 2011/04/18 04:51:21 (permalink)
    Piccadilly rules the cafeteria universe. At least in Memphis, it does.
     
    I did not much care for Luby's. I went a few times with my parents, because they liked it. Same with the old Morrison's Cafeteria that my parents dragged me to in the 1970's (with me screaming Piccadilly! Piccadilly!) There were some other ones out there, Britlings and Tom Sawyer's, but I don't know if those places are still in operation.
     
    I think especially in the south and the midwest, you wont have any problems finding a place that you want to go to. I have never done this, but there is probably a website out there that states the best places to eat after church on Sundays.  Another suggestion is to go to the casinos on the Mississippi River. Usually the food there is excellent and inexpensive. Many of them are located near small towns (like Tunica Ms. or Curuthersville Mo. for example), and it might be good to ask a local who has the best ones.
     
     
    Just stay away from the gambling!
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    MellowRoast
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    Re:Remembering Cafeteria Fare 2011/04/18 06:51:43 (permalink)
    Piccadilly does a great job, but I've always been a "Lubyan" and really miss the few Luby's we had in Tennessee.  I was such a fan, I'd go several times a week.  Piccadilly's salad section has "freshness" issues, but otherwise I enjoy eating there.
    post edited by MellowRoast - 2011/04/19 06:52:21
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    scrumptiouschef
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    Re:Remembering Cafeteria Fare 2013/07/17 13:40:10 (permalink)
    #27
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    Re:Remembering Cafeteria Fare 2013/07/17 18:18:03 (permalink)
    Niki's West is fun!
     
    I went to S&W a lot when I lived in Virginia, and loved Scholl's in DC, too.
     
    I've been to Morrison's and Piccadilly, but not in years. 
     
    Harry's Hofbrau is set up a lot like Niki's West and is very close to where I live. 
    http://www.harryshofbrau.com/pages/menu.html
     
    I REALLY want to go to Arnold's Country Kitchen!
    post edited by love2bake - 2013/07/17 23:05:07
    #28
    Michael Hoffman
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    Re:Remembering Cafeteria Fare 2013/07/17 18:28:02 (permalink)
    When I was a kid I used to love going to the Waldorf cafeterias in New Haven. There was one on Church Street in the center of downtown and another just up Chapel Street, about half a mile away. When I toted my shoeshine box around downtown I used to stop for lunch fairly often at the Church Street location. And I'd slip in there on Saturday nights when I was hawking Sunday morning editions of the New York Daily News or Mirror. When I was in sixth grade I used to take the bus downtown from school every day at lunchtime to eat at the other location. At both places the employees were pretty great, treating me like one of their own. Boy, their meatloaf and mashed potatoes were good.
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    HollyDolly
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    Re:Remembering Cafeteria Fare 2013/07/18 12:25:12 (permalink)
    Luby's is or was headquartered in San Antonio.They have some around yet.We used to have Wyatt's Cafeterias here, but they pulled out,forgot why. Only other thing around this area are the various chinese buffets,and one Pancho's mexican Buffet on Marbach on the westside of SA. There had been a Home Town Buffet on Austin Highway,but it's gone.Instead it's an Earl Abel's a local restaurant that was on Broadway,but moved due to construction.Earl Abel's is not a chain and said to be known for their fried chicken. Years ago, Congressman Henry B.Gonzales got into a little tiff with some local politico or other and punched the guy at Abel's when it was on Broadway.
    #30
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