Tudy's is a place you want to keep to yourself.
But duty calls.
Tudy's is a black restaurant serving American home cooking with soul food overtones--fried chicken, short ribs, collard greens, mashed potatoes--and it prides itself in its blackness. Even the burgers get symbolic names: ghetto burger. And there is a dish called "the black kiss" with turkey slices, chopped liver, sliced onions and sliced hard-cooked eggs that goes as a snack or appetizer.
Frankly, I couldn't wait to try Tudy's the moment I heard about it because of my love of black food and black cooks whom I regard as the great American cooks.
Well, I wasn't disappointed.
There were the partners, a jovial James Tudy III, his suave son, James IV and Karol Hudson, a bartender by trade, presiding over their domain, a spotless, bright and cheerful converted coffee shop as inviting as stopping for a cup of coffee at auntie's house.
The homemade desserts won me over. This is the place you'll find real American apple pie, peach cobbler and the best of the soft bread puddings with whiskey sauce that I've had anywhere. Gosh, they were good. Fabulous crust on the pies. Even the pecan pie, which was more chess pie with a few pecans thrown in for good measure, was good enough to polish off to the last, stray crumb.
Breakfast at Tudy's is a must, too. Rock bottom prices and good, clean food. Can't ask for more. There are old-fashioned pancakes done up as "pigs in a blanket" and pancake sandwiches. French toast is good and there is a chicken and waffle special with or without eggs for $4.95 and $3.95, respectively. There are Denver, Spanish and mushroom omelets along with a chili beans and cheese, ham and cheese and a California-style omelet filled with guacamole, mushrooms, alfalfa sprouts, bacon bits and cheese. All for less than $4.
There are terrific, moist, fresh grits served with or without eggs and other toppings. The usual truck-stop egg dishes with pork chops, beef patties, steak, sausages, bacon and beef hash are also here. And, oh, yes. The biscuits. They're divine with or without gravy. So you can't very well go hungry for breakfast.
Lunch and dinner menus are the same at Tudy's. The half fried chicken served with honey was a bit more crusty than I like my fried chicken, but that's a matter of taste. The chicken itself was moist and good. There are several steak dishes, including Karol steak Tudy's (named after Hudson), with a spinach and mushroom topping, which deserves a cautionary note about the quality of the steak. Don't expect prime. At $7.95, steak--any steak--with soup or salad, rice or mashed (baked or French fried) and collard greens, rolls and butter is a bargain.
My recommendation is the short ribs whenever they're on the special. They're incredibly good with gravy. The burgers are good, too. There also are scallops, crab, snapper, trout and shrimp for fish lovers and calves liver for liver lovers, which I did not try. The mashed potatoes and fries are made with real potatoes and the greens are the real stuff, too. And if hot entrees don't appeal for lunch, there are good, fresh salads served with (among other dressings), blue cheese dressing made with buttermilk, and hot and cold sandwiches, including hot pastrami, turkey, bacon and Swiss cheese club and hot corned beef and Swiss.
Tudy's is only a few weeks old and has already come on strong, given a few inconsistencies here and there with slow, but cordial service. And if you're wondering why a reviewer would review a place so soon after opening, the answer is simple. This restaurant is ready and recommendable.
Next time around, French fries, which often is the best thing on a coffee-shop menu. But I forgot to order them at Tudy's, and that should say it all.
Tudy's Restaurant, 5006 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, (213) 937-7917. Cash only (credit card service to come soon). Open daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday open 24 hours. Reservations not necessary. No beer or wine yet. Catering and private room parties available. Full dinners $5.95 to 11.95.