I may have stumbled on the solution to America's immigration problem.
Require the huddled masses yearning for work and citizenship to do more than simply answer questions about American history and politics at a hearing. Give them a taste of the USA by making them dine on 40th Street Grill's more-or-less wretched all-American fare. In comparison, political oppression and economic deprivation are going to seem a lot more palatable. So, for that matter, might fasting.

The unimaginative decor here mirrors the food. Tiffany-style lamps, some wood and dark-green carpeting don't exactly break new artistic ground.A jumble of pop-icon photos lines the walls, including Illya Kuryakin, Goldfinger and Ozzie and Harriet. For some inexplicable reason, there's also a glossy of Sigmund Freud, whom you will yearn to consult to learn what repressed guilty impulse brought you here to be punished in the first place. We started off with an appetizer combo of wings, stuffed potato skins and zucchini sticks. Hardly exceptional stuff, although the crunchy skins did come densely packed with bacon, scallions and cheese. But had we known this rather routinely ordinary plate would turn out to be the highlight of our meal, we'd have wandered over with it to the restaurant's karaoke bar and made a more liquid night of it. Dinners come with soup or salad. On this Friday night, the restaurant featured onion soup. I was looking forward to a hearty broth, topped with crusty bread and thick, tangy cheese. Instead, I got a watery, salty, cheeseless mess with unappealing clumps of soggy bread. The salad alternative was no better, mostly some desultory pieces of lettuce with indifferent dressings. Both soup and salad were accompanied by a basket of stale garlic cheese bread that crumbled unpleasantly all over our shirts when we took a bite.

But this hardly prepared us for the main dishes. Rarely have I encountered a restaurant that took so little pride or interest in its food.

Location Info


Landmark Restaurant

809 W. Main St.
Mesa, AZ 85201

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Mesa

The New York strip sirloin, which the menu calls prime, weighed in at 16 ounces and $22. But at 40th Street Grill, you can't count on getting a thickly marbled slab of meaty, tender beef. What showed up was a chewy, dry, imperfectly grilled hunk that had me seriously considering the merits of vegetarianism. Perhaps in a small, nameless act of kindness, the promised onion rings supposed to lend support to the steak never dropped by.

The barbecue-ribs-and-chicken combo barely aspired to mediocrity. The tough chicken had so little barbecue kick that the needle on my barbecue-o-meter failed to budge. And though the half-rack of ribs was meaty and tender enough, the flavor was as bland and forgettable as tuna fish on white toast.

Center-cut pork chops, neither moist nor tender, won't transport you to hog heaven. And no nifty corn bread and apple stuffing, like that at Landmark, livened up this plain piece of meat. Instead, I got a small container of applesauce--not much of a culinary reach.

The side dishes displayed the same unhappy lack of quality we'd gotten accustomed to. Yellow rice could have come off a hospital dinner tray. Mixed vegetables had no intention of getting mixed up with any kind of flavor at all. And potatoes au gratin came drenched in a mucilaginous yellow glop that looked positively scary.

40th Street Grill is also the site of an off-track-betting facility. But it hits an unenviable restaurant trifecta. Not only is it burdened with uninteresting, poorly prepared food, there are bumbling service and high prices, as well. Our waiter brought and removed dishes, cutlery and glasses with a randomness that suggested he was unlikely to take up the challenge of the Japanese tea ceremony anytime soon.

Meanwhile, after a couple of beers, it took more than a C-note to take care of the bill for three diners. By my calculations, if three people don't eat here ten times, they'll save a thousand bucks.

Get started tonight.

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