Liz Swain 4:24 p.m., May 24
It's a legend, a landmark, and a lifestyle all rolled into one. It lurks in its nondescript building along the Boulevard like a fortress, dark and forbidding, potentially filled with hidden treasure. Established in 1938, it is the San Diego Chicken Pie Shop and it is everything the stories say and more.
Serving up meals straight from the set of Mad Men, the CPS is a haven for the AARP crowd who like to dine early and dine cheaply. It's the perfect place to take Grandma for an early bird dinner, but where is it written that Grandma gets to have all the fun?
It is not.
Chicken Pie is retro cool to a spectacular degree. It's unpretentious in the extreme and targeting a demographic that's as far removed from the hip North Park restaurant scene as possible, which is precisely the reason to get deep into some old school grub.
Is the food good? Well, that depends. It is what it is and it's got that vintage feel.
It's like eating a '57 Stratocaster, except thousands of dollars cheaper and far more nutritive. If you have to ask, you probably won't get it.
Witness the Famous Chicken Pie Dinner. For $7.50, it contains everything. An individual pot pie stuffed with chicken, turkey, and gravy that's fantastically unadorned. The crust is very short and rich, and the filling is chock full of dark meat. Smothered in gravy, it's completely satisfying.
The whipped potatoes are a bit on the gluey side and the slaw is nothing to jump for joy over, sadly. The vegetable choice varies--in this case it was peas--but the simple butter and salt preparation is absolutely right to accompany the pie. A pie a la carte, with only the gravy, is under $3.
In case this massive plate of gravy-laden radness leaves you wanting more, every pie dinner comes with a free dessert! Pie selections are good and the sweet filling and golden brown crust of a peach pie finish the meal with aplomb.
Beyond the pie, the CPS offers sandwiches like the hot turkey or hot roast beef, both smothered in gravy, served with mashed potatoes for $6.50 each.
Dinner specials include sauteed chicken livers and roast ham with fruit sauce. Any dinner plate gets soup, veggies, potatoes, cole slaw, and dessert as well. The price? $8.45.
An entire fruit pie costs $5.85. 'Nuff said.
The place closes early, so get in there while the sun's up. It's even open for breakfast on the weekends.
Chicken Pie Shop
2633 El Cajon Boulevard
M-F 10-8<br<Weekends 8-8