Rodz Grille Gets the Checkered Flag
By Antoinette May Herndon
When I asked the young waitress if the restaurant had a cocktail bar. She said she didn’t know.
I shivered inwardly. A martini I could live without. It was the not knowing part that had me worried. What kind of place was Rodz Grille?
Charles and I had driven back and forth from one end of Angels Camp to another again and again searching for the restaurant. Set well back in a shopping center already set back from the highway, it’s hard to spot. We were about to give it up when I finally glimpsed the small sign behind Starbuck’s.
Now here we were, finally settled into a booth, committed to whatever they did out there in the kitchen, and about to be served by a woman who seemed alarmingly vague.
Looking about, I saw that Rodz Grille was basically a diner with a 50s twist, the emphasis clearly on racing and hot rods. The walls were decorated with checkered flags and everywhere we looked were pictures of cars and drivers.
I studied the photo closest to us. Andy Green the caption read. The picture commemorated what must have been a banner moment in not only in Green’s life but in racing history. The caption explained that he was driving Richard Noble’s car at 763 miles per hour. Black vertical lines indicated shock waves. Green had broken the sound barrier. Rodz Grille is a shrine of sorts testifying to great moments in racing history. The owner, Ozzie Rivera, is clearly a fan.
I picked up the menu, scanned it curiously, speculating on what kind
of food Rivera served. Breakfast, for certain—that portion of the menu took up the most space. Sure, Rodz Grille would be a perfect breakfast hangout. Lots of people must get a charge from starting the day in such a get up and go kind of place. Just thinking about all those checked flags flying and cars zooming revved up my adrenalin.
The lunch section of the menu looks good too. Rodz Grille, located on Hwy. 49, is a natural pit stop for refueling the tummy.
But we were there for dinner . . . I thought again about the pretty waitress who apparently didn’t know what a cocktail bar was. Charles guessed that Rodz was primarily a guy place, a beer place. He ordered a Bud and was rewarded with a quick smile and a frosted glass.
I pushed on, asking hopefully: “Do you have red wine?” They did! Both a cab and a merlot. I went with the house cab (the only cab) and was delighted. Whatever the brand, (she didn’t know) it was definitely worth a second glass in the course of the evening.
Returning to the menu, we noted that Rodz is strong on steaks. There were many varieties listed, far outweighing the other offerings— spaghetti ($12.95) fettuccini alfredo ($14.95) and fish and chips ($14.99.
Charles opted for beef liver and onions ($14.99). It was grilled, smothered with sautéed onions and topped with crisp bacon. He was very pleased with it.
I decided to go with Aunt Alice’s Famous Chicken Fried Steak. ($13.99) Chicken fried steak is a favorite dish of mine. I order it often, but doubt that I’ve ever been served any tastier than at Rodz Grille.
The beef had obviously been well tenderized—not always the case. Rodz serves his chicken fried steak lightly breaded, well seasoned, and golden fried. I loved it.
Dinners at Rodz are served with a choice of rice or baked potato, vegetable and grilled garlic bread, plus a choice of soup or green salad. When the waitress told me the soup was homemade, the choice was a no brainer. Yum! A rich, thick vegetable, well flavored and very, very good. Kind of like your grandmother used to make—assuming that Granny was a good cook.
Charles chose the salad bar, returning to the table juggling a plate heaped with greens, tomatoes, onions, olives, and more. It looked great. Diners can, if they choose, enjoy both soup and salad for an additional $2. On a hungry night, it would certainly be worth it.
Rodz Grille is lively and unpretentious, the atmosphere upbeat and friendly. Our waitress, though vague about cocktail bars, was clearly knowledgeable about the menu. Her pleasantly efficient manner rapidly restored our confidence.
Charles and I liked Rodz Grille and now—once we’ve found it—will be back soon. There are a number of tantalizing sounding steaks on that menu. I plan to work my way through, savoring each and every one.
VITALS: Rodz Grille is located at 730 South Main St. (Hwy. 49) in angels Camp. Phone: 736-0170. Open daily from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. Credit cards accepted.
Michelle Skrobecky, who manages Rodz Grille pours a great cup of coffee.
The interior of Rodz Grille is warm, inviting and filled with memorabilia.