Budget Beat: Linda's on Osborn

During stressful times, what's more comforting than home-style cooking? Not much, if you ask me. When I lived in the same town as my parents, I loved heading over to their house after work or the weekends to eat some of my mom's cooking. I'm sure many of you feel the same way. 'Cause, you know, food just tastes better when it's made and served by your mom. That's just one of life's absolute truths.


Now, I live a couple of thousand miles away from my mom's kitchen in chilly and gray Grand Rapids, Michigan. So, finding that home-style cooking isn't easy. Fortunately, there you can get some at Linda's on Osborn, a hole-in-the-wall on the corner of 24th Street and Osborn Road in central Phoenix.

Before Linda McQuillan (above) bought the place 15 years ago, when it was called R.J.'s. Today, she serves fish dishes, burgers, sandwiches, nightly specials, and homemade desserts in a homey, no-frills setting with light rock emanating from an ancient hi-fi stashed beneath the cash register.  Linda sang a familiar tune last night when she told me that business has been hurting lately. She said she had to let go a cook and server recently and has been operating with a skeleton crew.

And, she's instituted a slew of deals to entice diners, including free dessert on Wednesday nights, buy one dinner get one free on Monday nights, all-you-can-eat fish fry on Friday nights, $5.95 dinners on Tuesday nights, 10 percent off on Thursday nights, and free mimosas with Sunday breakfast. She's also lopped a buck off all the menu prices of burgers and fish plates.

When the missus and I checked out Linda's on a recent Wednesday, we ordered off the specials board, which featured a bunch of plates for $6.95, including spaghetti and meatballs, BBQ ribs, Mexican lasagna, and liver and onions. See what I mean about comfort food?

She got the spaghetti and meatballs. I thought I'd take the Mexican lasagna out a for spin. Each came with a modest side salad (consisting of some iceberg lettuce, shaved carrots, and tomato chunks), a little basket of bread, and a basket of saltines (this old-school amenity made me smile).

The food's not exactly cutting edge, but you probably had already figured that out. This is back-to-basics, stick-to-your-ribs fare at a very cheap price. Given that it was Wednesday night, we were entitled to free dessert. So the missus and I split a piece of banana cream pie (a favorite of hers). In fact, Linda's on Osborn would be a perfect pie-and-coffee kinda place. It's even got a counter and stools, a truly appropriate setting for coffee and pie.
In the end, our bill was $15.05, for two nice-size entrees, side salads, and free dessert. We figured two people can't do even Rubio's, Pei Wei, Paradise Bakery, or any number of "fast casual" chains for that price. And those food factories won't give you service with a smile, like you get from Linda McQuillan.

Linda's on Osborn
2333 East Osborn Road
Hours: Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Saturday, closed; Sunday, 8 a.m. to noon. 


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