San Jose a handful of iconic restaurants that almost everyone has been to over the years. Peanuts, Original Joe’s, La Victoria, Burger Bar and Falafel Drive-In all come to mind, and The Mini Gourmet certainly belongs in that bastion.

A mainstay across from Valley Med on the corner of Bascom and Moorpark, Mini Gourmet has served up classic American fare since 1971. Winner of a 2016 Metro Gold Award for its ability to stand the test of time, the diner was shut down in the past few months and just recently re-opened, much to the delight of Burbank neighborhood residents. A few years have passed since I last visited, and now seemed like as good a time as any to see what’s doing.

Upon entering, it’s a shock to see how the remodel makes the interior feel more open and welcoming. Say goodbye to the old ’70s-era couches and chair motif, and say hello to wood laminate flooring; clean, modern-looking chairs and tables; and high-backed wood booths that provide diners with privacy and comfort. They also got rid of those low-hanging lights that anyone over six feet would worry about headbutting. The noise factor is still raucous when there’s a full house, but that’s part of the charm.

The constant amidst all this change is the menu, which remains the same after all these years. My favorite part about diners is being able to order breakfast at any time. I ordered up a medium-rare steak and eggs ($14.99) for lunch. The meat was cooked exactly to my specification, while the eggs were slightly overcooked but still provided plenty of yummy yolk to dip the steak. The highlight was the country potatoes. Wonderfully seasoned and fluffy, they also had a nice kick from the jalapeños that snuck up at the end.

My sister ordered a sourdough and cheddar grilled cheese sandwich ($7.99) and a bowl of French onion soup ($5.99). The grilled cheese and the accompanying French fries were both standard, but the soup was a pleasant surprise. Beefy, cheesy and filled with buttery, soft onions, it was definitely the best I’ve had in a long time.

Service was friendly and efficient, as everyone seemed energized by the new look. Although, if memory serves, the service at Mini Gourmet has always been one of the standout features.

Some people will have a hard time with the changes, but once they get used to the new decor they’ll realize Mini Gourmet is the same as it’s always been—a beloved greasy spoon serving up American comfort food at all hours.

The Mini Gourmet
599 S Bascom Ave, San Jose.