While most people were relaxing by the pool, lounging on the beach, jetting off on holiday getaways and soaking up the last bit of summer over the long Labor Day weekend, I was cooling my heels inside my air conditioned home. Summer and I have never really hit it off. Actually, I despise the heat, even though in Southern California everyone’s favorite summertime activities require going outside while the sun is up.
It was with this quandary in mind that I spent my requisite summertime outdoor fun time doing something I think is really fun: eating something good (hopefully), and then writing about the experience.
I decided to face my fear and satisfy my seasonal need to get out of the house by visiting the Great White Hut, located on the northeast corner of California Avenue and Orange Street in Glendale, which, unbeknownst to me, has very limited seating, and is as close to an actual hut as one can get.
I admit: I didn’t really think this through prior to making my way there in the 95-degree heat. But don’t get the wrong idea. It’s not inconvenient; quite to the contrary. The Great White Hut is easily accessible by foot, situated just a block from busy and pedestrian friendly Brand Boulevard, and it has a public parking lot right behind it. We arrived around 2 p.m. and it wasn’t very busy at all; just two people had ordered ahead of us, and two couples sat at the only two tables — the alternative being bar stools lined at a counter built up around the midsection of the diminutive white structure. There is a second location in Glendale on Cañada Boulevard that has indoor seating (perhaps even air conditioning), but we braved the weather like the Californians we are, all for the chance at a crack at the Hut’s mouthwatering menu.
The California Avenue location is the first of the two, having opened in that same spot in 1947. While owners have changed over the years, all else has remained as it once was — something of a rarity in today’s tough restaurant trade.
My dining companion quickly decided on the classic fritas, or fries ($5.35), which were easily his favorite part of the meal, and a customer favorite. The fries are topped with carne asada, cilantro, feta cheese, spicy garlic aioli, and avocado cream that can be added on. I tried them with the works, and the aioli and cream alone are worth it. My friend said Great White’s fries are the absolute best version of a carne asada, or roasted meat, he’s tried. There are three other fry options, and all sound just as amazing: Americano, made with bacon, cheddar cheese and grilled onions, then topped with ranch and spicy garlic aioli; fiesta fries, which contain carne asada, cheddar cheese and jalapeños, and topped with diablo salsa and avocado cream; and sunrise fries, just in case you’re craving fries for breakfast. These come with bacon, egg and feta cheese, plus salsa verde and thousand island dressing. If that isn’t enough to choose from, customers can build their own ideal versions of this star menu item.
I went more sage with a veggie burrito and a simple chicken taco. The veggie burrito ($6.25) is made with beans, cheese, lettuce, guacamole, pico de Gallo and mild green salsa, all wrapped in a flour tortilla. It was good, although pinto beans are not my favorite. Refried or black beans would have made it perfect for my taste. In between bites of my burrito, I nibbled on the chicken taco ($1.85), which was my favorite. I opted for the mild green salsa, which in my opinion made the entire taco. When I was growing up, my parents regarded salsa as the make or break component of a good taco (aside from the meat, of course), and I never fully understood why, until I tried this taco.
To begin with, the chicken is perfectly seasoned, cooked and cut. It also contains a generous serving of meat. Onions and cilantro are blended together with the green salsa, giving just a slight kick, which made me wish I had ordered a few extra tacos instead of the burrito. Interestingly, their only other meat option is carne asada, but considering the quality of the food they serve, they don’t really need anything else.
To top off the meal, my friend also tried the double cheeseburger ($5.95), which comes with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles and thousand island dressing, served on a toasted bun. It’s simple, clean, tasty, and all that a burger should be. Any burger can also be ordered protein style, a la In N Out. You can even add an egg, bacon, or avocado to your burgers for an additional $1.25 each. Who wouldn’t want any of those three things to take their burgers up a couple of notches? Any entree can also be made into a combo for $3.50 which adds fries and a soda.
Despite the blistering heat, this was one of the best meals we’d both had in a while. We had managed to snag a shaded table right next to the pharmacy with which the Great White Hut shares a parking lot, and I almost forgot about the temperature (almost).
To top off the entire experience, they also serve breakfast all day, from breakfast burritos and breakfast quesadillas to breakfast tacos and a breakfast bowl option which I thought was interesting. The burritos and bowls are served with eggs, cheese, pico de Gallo, hash browns and choice of sauce. Bacon, carne asada, or chicken can also be added on. Regular quesadillas and nachos are perfect for a late meal after a long night out. This is more sophisticated fast food munchie meal, if you will, although I wouldn’t consider this fast food.
While the menu is concise, they work around limited meat options by serving every side or add-on you could possibly want. The burgers and tacos are standard and delicious, and their fry menu makes The Great White Hut what it is — a very small restaurant with a whole lot of character that features great tasting food.
The Great White Hut
121 W. California Ave. Glendale
1500 Cañada Blvd. Unit B, Glendale