Anthony Gountoumas, part owner of Tomy's Cafe Diner in Garden Grove, CA
Welcome to The Orange County Restaurant Showcase!
March 17-18th, April 9th, 2012
Tomy’s Café Diner
Written by Paulette Le Pore Motzko
Copyright April 2012
I decided to go to Tomy’s Café Diner one afternoon after doing many errands and discovered that though they advertise great burgers on the outside sign, they offer a lot more than just burgers!
What I saw when I came through their doors, was a huge menu with color photos of each of the one hundred and eleven items on their menu. It is incredible that they can offer so much selection at the amazing value they do.
Antonio the very friendly Manager of Tomy's Diner Cafe on Chapman Ave. in Garden Grove
I met Anthony Gountoumas who turned out to be one of the owners, with his brother Thomas, and his first words to me were “How ya' doing and how are you?” as he took my order with a friendly, charismatic smile. He and his brother Thomas have been in the restaurant business since they were 14 years old in Athens, Greece. In 1981 Anthony purchased the land where Tomy’s now sits with families eating their breakfast, lunches and dinners there. He and Thomas have been Partners & CEO’s for the Tomy’s restaurant chain since 1974.
He said to me, “We are not a fast food place or merely a burger place. We serve quality dinners at a really affordable price. The money we didn’t invest into marketing has been spent back into the quality of the foods we serve and the prices we hand down to our customers.”
The best Fried Chicken I have ever had in my life any where! Tomy's is made to order when you get there so don't come with a stop watch, but come with a big appetite!
“I go around and talk to my guests as though it was my house. It is like family here at Tomy’s.” I must second that as all the staff was more than happy to pose for the photos I took of the dinners being made and of the sizzling ingredients on the griddle turning into award winning dishes.
Thomas said to me, “It is a Café Diner with a big selection of Mexican foods to choose from. It is not a fast food place. The sign used to say “Hamburgers” but we are going to change it to say “Café Diner” instead, because our menu has changed so much.”
Peppers and onions sizzling for Tomy's fantastic fajita plates.
The Egg & Bacon Sandwich on whole wheat bread will keep you eating for a long time! Fantastic!
I had a feeling he was the owner and my hunch was right. I told them how I had never seen a casual dining place that had the exceptional food for a fantastic value served by the nicest folks you will ever want to meet!
Herendira and Rocio, two of the prettiest & nicest servers you will ever want to meet!
When you order a burger at Tomy’s you will get a burger with lean ground beef that is delicately seasoned, on and have your choice of ten different kinds from: double meat and double cheese, chili double cheeseburger, quarter pound cheese, chili cheese, ¼ hamburger, chili burger, Jr. cheeseburger, pastrami burger that looks incredible, a beautiful charbroiled chicken breast sandwich, a ½ pound bacon cheese burger and a steak sandwich. You can also find in the A-La-Carte section their Chicken Breast Fried Sandwich for only $2.99 or a Fish Sandwich for only $3.59. How is that for amazing choice and incredible value? The fries are seasoned with their home made seasoning and taste of a hint of paprika, salt, pepper and garlic. I don’t eat fries that often, but when I do I want theirs! They are crisp and make you happy you didn’t go elsewhere.
The Steak Dinner from Tomy's Cafe Diner
I ordered the number 71 Big Breakfast the first time I went in and couldn’t believe I got scrambled eggs, nicely crisp hash browns, whole wheat bread and sausage for only $3.99! When they are out of decaffeinated coffee they gladly make a fresh pot for you, which most places do not. You are lucky in most restaurants to get something that tastes like motor oil and looks like it. The service is always friendly and everybody from the cooks to cashier to waitresses all greets you with a smile and go out of their way for you. All these things combined shows why they have been in business for thirty-five years. Today when I came in it was busier than even last Sunday.
The Big Breakfast at Tomy's is a Big Value. You will want Tomy's Family to cook for you all the time when you try them once!
They had said that many had asked them throughout the years to do marketing and they always said “no”, but they loved the fact that I had lived in Garden Grove for most of my life, and had such a great appreciation for their restaurant, and was a genuine customer as well.
They had never seen anyone that offered the type of things I am doing either, helping family owned businesses thrive by telling about what is unique and special about them. They hired me to do a set of 50 photographs, a feature story, an interview and a pictorial video that day. I was so excited because I knew that the story would write itself and it would be a joy to write.
When you are passionate about something you do it well. Anthony and Thomas are passionate about what they do and love what they do. They take great pride in the quality of ingredients that they use to make the different dishes offered at Tomy’s.
When I came in to do the first photo-shoot of the exterior shots, the business of the morning crowd filling the place up on Sunday morning, the massive potato boiler that they use to cook the potatoes for the morning breakfasts, and other photos showing how busy the restaurant is: drive through and patio areas.
Frozen hash browns are a dirty word at Tomy's Cafe Diner because everything is home made here from the salsas made daily with roasted peppers which are not so "caliente" that they burn your throat!
When I came in I ordered the Greek Omelet which was full of more high quality feta cheese than I had ever seen put into one omelet, along with spinach and mushrooms, making it a distinct “ten out of ten” rating, ten being best.
For the budget minded and those who have to cut back, I ask you: Where on the face of the planet can you get a breakfast of Eggs on a Bun for only $2.49? It consists of scrambled eggs on a hamburger bun with tomato, lettuce. Their Ham & Egg Burrito for $4.49 that will keep full the hungriest of eaters and so easy to carry when you are in a morning rush.
Ham & Cheese Omelet...chocked full of good things!
Carne Asada Soft tacos with Rice are as good if not better than most Mexican restaurants!
If you get the urge for French Toast, at Tomy’s you can order their number 78 and get French Toast with Eggs for $3.69 or without eggs for only $3.09! And here you will find a nice surprise when you order your coffee. Here it will still come in at the $1.39 and is ground fresh for you when you order it. They grind the beans daily to make their coffee. A lot of the biggest coffee places don’t even give you that kind of treatment when you pay triple for theirs.
That isn’t all though. Not only does Tomy’s have fantastic breakfasts and lunches but they also have many high quality, delicious dinner choices to pick from. Try these out for size:
They have a Pork Chop Dinner with French fries and a dinner salad, which really surprised me when mind came out, for its size and how fresh everything was. That comes in at only $6.49! You get really great Spaghetti & Meatballs and a Salad for only $5.99!
For the waist conscious they offer a beautiful Chicken Salad featuring grilled chicken breast on top for $5.99 by itself or with a drink for $6.99.
Their Chef Salad covers a large dinner plate and has ham, eggs, tomatoes, and cheddar for less than what you could pay for a really bad burger somewhere else at only $5.99!
If you are one of those “meat and potatoes” kind of eaters, they offer a really great Steak Dinner for only $6.99. It comes with a salad and fries or a baked potato. On the dinners you can choose if you want fries or a baked potato. When I ordered my Fried Chicken Dinner I got with my mother and a dear friend of mine one afternoon I will swore that no chicken place anywhere can beat the fried chicken that Tomy’s makes. They bread it and fry it when you come in, plain and simple. NOTHING AT TOMY’S SITS AROUND UNDER A HEAT LAMP and there are no bought prepared foods used. EVERYTHING IS HOME MADE AND YOU CAN TELL.
You won’t see cans of this or that on shelves or pre-made sauces, because there aren’t any. I went back into the kitchen where they prepared the foods and was invited proudly by the owners to see how it all was done.
As I am writing this camped at out at a booth by a plug end with my camera charging, I can smell the waft of sizzling fajitas going through the air as Michelle, one of the sweet waitresses carries it by.
Irma was the first person that I spoke to along with Paulina, another waitress/server. I couldn’t believe how sincerely friendly both were. When Irma offered to bring some fresh decaffeinated coffee to my table! I knew I was in a place where customers came first and smiles were an ingredient that was on your platter like garnish on the side of the plate!
Today when I was here to come take the next set of photos I had the number 102 Bacon and Egg Sandwich that amazingly was only $3.89. I got some really great close up photos of it while I was at it.
My Fried Chicken Dinner with a nice dinner salad and a baked potato was only $6.99 and I got 4 pieces! So, if you are messing your house up trying to fry chicken, just go to Tomy’s instead!
If you like Mexican food, their beef burritos are enormous in size and incredible in flavor! I haven’t seen 14 inch flour tortillas since Arizona but they have them at Tomy’s.
I took many photos of the Carne Asada as it the cooks made it today. Tomy’s cranks out food that is as good if not better than some of the best Mexican restaurants I know of. It isn’t cool to name names but I can think of many now and you can pay 1/3 of what you would at other places.
Their Carne Asada Burrito was made with huge Sonora type tortillas I saw a lot of when living in Arizona where I was born. I got photos of huge heaps of the lean meat sizzling on the grill. I asked and they use chuck and slice it ever so thin so it cooks quickly. It was filled with lean seasoned steak that filled it up with a few pinto beans, cilantro and onion for flavor. No fillers here folks! They do not skimp on the high quality stuff even though their prices are very reasonable. I could have split my burrito in two and shared with someone.
The Beef Fajita is served with refried beans, Mexican rice and has sweet peppers, onions and lean beef steak julienne cut for only $7.49. They offer a Two Taco Plate, otherwise known as Number 42 for only $5.99 with lean seasoned beef steak on corn tortillas and homemade refried beans and Mexican rice.
The most you will spend at Tomy’s is only $8.49 and you will get a dinner that would wow the best of em’! So, whether you are craving a delicious piece of Salmon or Pork Chops, or Fish & Chips or Charbroiled Chicken or a Steak Dinner, the highest you will pay is $8.49 and most are much lower. This is a family place where you will see families taking things to go, people eating and conversing and coming back over and over again. I don’t have to wonder why. All money aside and value aside, Tomy’s is a warm and friendly place where you can really sense the love that goes into every element of what goes into what appears on the plate of food you enjoy.
I am so happy I discovered this fantastic eating establishment and had the joy of meeting Anthony and Thomas to share this story with you. I love this place, can you tell? Have I made you want to run out and go to Tomy’s yet? I know my mouth is watering!
Paulette Le Pore Motzko
Family owned businesses are our countries treasures . Great ones sparkle like gold filigree on a fine porcelain plate. These are the places that you want to go to on a trip when you really want to know the hidden secrets the locals know.
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