It had been quite awhile since I had been to the west side. Charlie lives there and recommended Rae's as a good example of an unheralded breakfast joint on that side of town. He was available to shoot pictures, so off we went.
We rolled in for a late Sunday lunch and I was surprised that it wasn't very crowded--not a ghost town by any means, but not packed. It turns out that the restaurant is deceptively large. Its main counter and booth space is augmented by an annex full of tables in the back. It was also decidedly non-douchey with a healthy mix of hipsters, locals and families. The douchey quotient is kept down by the proximity of places like Snug Harbor and Bread & Porridge, which act as a magnet for those types (Not saying there's anything inherently douchey with those places; they just happen to be more popular.)
Rae's was clearly an older place (est. 1958 according to their menu) and luckily hadn't a seen a renovation in quite some time. The colors change from a green and blue to a decaf shade of orange at the booths. Architecturally, the interior is all hard angles with the globe light fixtures and counter edges being the only exceptions. We sat in front of the picture window by the door. The large window let soft afternoon light just pour in, which gave everything a nice glow.
First off, I ordered a coffee, which was incredibly good--nice and strong without any bitterness. I found it very amusing that they served it in plastic mugs made to look like classic ceramic coffee cups.
The menu is small, comprising only one page. It covers the staples well and is peppered with interesting items and odd section placement. Under "Sandwich Specialties" it lists sundaes and malts and ice cream topping for sodas. I was sorely tempted by something called the "Denver Sandwich" which consists of two eggs, ham and pineapple. Now eggs and ham go together and ham and pineapple go together. Eggs and pineapple though? Why call it a Denver sandwich? Apparently it's a thing, although the pineapple appears to be an exclusive to Rae's thing.
Ultimately I went with the other most intriguing option: the bacon topped waffle.
Charlie ordered the Chorizo.
The chorizo had a mild spiciness to it, just enough to give it a tiny kick.
I expected to just find bacon bits sprinkled on top of the waffle, but what came was even better. The bacon had been added to the batter and cooked into the waffle itself. The syrup was nothing special but overall the combination was very good. My potatoes were adequate.
Something we both noticed about the food is that it is perfect "drunk food." It looks decent when on your plate in the daylight, but would look amazing if you were really drunk and trying to sober up. The slight sheen of grease would look delightful reflecting in the streetlights from outside.
At the end of our meal I decided to indulge with the blueberry pie. The edges of the slice were dry and sticky, which happens to fruit pies when they have been sitting out for awhile. Once I got closer to the center, it was much better.
Rae's was an enjoyable place. It had a nice atmosphere and decent food, but its biggest asset may be the price. For two breakfasts, coffee, orange juice and a slice of pie, our bill came to only $19.00. I look forward to going back there and enjoying more of that great coffee and maybe trying that Denver sandwich.
Food: Decent, bordering on good.Service: Very friendly.
Price: $5-$8Pie: Various.
2901 Pico Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90405