Pizza Pie, Chicken Pie and Chicken

Leonardo’s Pizza is the best. “Who sezez? I sezez,” ‘sez’ Tony.


Now hold on. Uncle Jonni argues Uncle Joe’s has the best pizza pie.

Uncle Joe’s. But…under new management since my encounter with Uncle Jonni. Reviews however are good.

No essay of The Boulevard is satisfactory without these two major icons. The water tower and San Diego Chicken Pie Shop. There are legions and generations of San Diegans in testimony that the chicken pie dinner is the cheapest and most satisfying comfort food experience on the planet.

Gone forever. At attention at Keith’s Chicken In The Rough at 32nd and El Cajon. 1939.

I suppose the balloon is a nice try. But not even close to the charm of that old diner. Church’s has a following in San Diego because Hall of Fame Padre Tony Gwynn is part owner.

I am Dan Soderberg, award winning documentary film maker and phototgrapher specializing in architecture, historic preservation and nature.
  • Heather

    Is there a double crust on that chicken pie?

  • Daniel Soderberg

    I’m not sure I can characterize the pie any other way than just being a proven crowd pleaser since 1938/39. Here is a comment I found on another blog:

    The San Diego Chicken Pie Shop is a classic– they have been in business since 1938, and from what I can tell, they have changed very little over the years. Waitresses with their hair in buns scurry from table to table, taking orders and returning with wheeled carts overflowing with plates of food.

    The chicken pie dinner is the most popular item on the menu. $5.25 gets you a chicken pie, potatoes, mixed vegetables, cole slaw, a roll with butter, and a slice of pie for dessert. Read that again to let it sink in. The chicken pie itself is a tasty celebration of carbohydrate-laden comfort food: flaky crust, generous with the meat, and rich gravy. Their pies are also available to-go, in both baked or unbaked form.

    Their cole slaw is the best I have found in San Diego, so if you like your slaw on the sweet and creamy side, give it a taste. The roll is the kind your grandmother made: simple, fluffy and warm. A pat of butter, thoughtfully provided with the meal, provides the perfect complement.

    The atmoshere is a cross between a dining hall and diner, with lots of chicken kitsch decor. The patrons are a big part of the Chicken Pie Shop experience– the restaurant is big with the senior crowd. In fact, if the gray haired patrons ever challenged the others to a pickup rugby game, my money is on the seniors– what they might lack in strength and agility, they more than make up for in sheer numbers.

    No checks, no credit cards, no debit cards. It has been a cash business since 1938.

    My memories of the Chicken Pie Shop are relatively contemporary–circa 1970’s. It was then located in Hillcrest on 5th and Robinson. The shop was “old school” and ALWAYS packed. When I used to attend Padre games I’d swing by Chicken Pie Shop and pick up chicken pies to go. I’d cause great envy in the grandstand unwrapping my chicken pie treats during the game. Ballpark food in that day wasn’t the best. I’m told ballpark food has greatly improved, but is pricey. Even the Chicken Pie Dinner has gone up to six bucks.

  • Zack

    Nice family shots. I think there was a Kieth’s somewhere around town in my teenage years. Maybe Nat’l City, I’m not sure. The pot pie sounds great; can’t wait to try it next time I’m in town.

  • Daniel Soderberg

    From YELP:

    Stevie says,

    Leonardo’s Cafe Italia

    7091 El Cajon Blvd San Diego, CA 92115

    Reviewed by David M.

    This is an AMERICAN-ITALIAN restaurant. It has been open in this location continuously since 1948, long before Americans knew the difference between spaghetti, rigatoni and ziti. Or that there even was a different. So it’s all old school spaghetti and meatballs or ravioli. You can get gourmet specials but it’s probably best to visit when you are looking for comfort food. My wife got a shrimp in a garlic cream sauce and was disappointed. I got the ravioli and meatballs and was very happy. You make the call.

    Leonardo’s Cafe Italia

    7091 El Cajon Blvd San Diego, CA 92115

    Reviewed by Alissandra L.

    We were the only patrons in the place and got to seat ourselves. I usually get nervous when I walk into a restaurant with no customers, but as soon as we sat down, the dinner rush broke, and the place was 3/4 of the way full. A lot of people came in just for takeout orders, and there’s a counter plus booths that I kinda wanted to sit at, but didn’t.

    Homemade soup: Yum.

    Bread: Yum enough.

    Cheese Ravioli w/ meat sauce: Yum

    Pollo Marsala: Yum, but would be yummier without peas in it.

    Chocolate Chip Almond Cannoli: Oh yum.

    Waiters: Ahem. Yum.

    Prices: Yum Yum.

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