Cooking runs in the family at Grove City's 3 Brothers Diner.
Brothers Filadelfo, Nivardo and Eliseo Cruz, natives of Oaxaca, Mexico, opened 3 Brothers Diner with their cousin last August. Squeezed between a Family Dollar and a Little Caesar's in a strip mall, this Grove City spot lacks the typical diner layout: a counter facing a flat-top grill. What it does offer is enjoyable comfort food, a brightly painted space with two large dining rooms, friendly service, pop songs on the radio and ample tables for accommodating the whole family.
Breakfast is the main draw here, served all day, every day. Along with American diner classics like eggs, home fries, bacon, pancakes and weak coffee, the breakfast menu offers a variety of dishes that highlight the chefs' penchant for Latin flavors, such as egg scrambles, breakfast burritos, breakfast enchiladas and huevos rancheros. (There are similarities here with Hilliard's popular Starliner Diner, minus the wait.)
The Tex-Mex Scramble ($9.50), for example, is a big bowl split into two parts: fresh peppers, onions, shredded beef brisket, scrambled eggs, ranchero sauce and queso fresco on one side and black beans on the other. Homemade buttered toast tops it off. While the brisket is dry, the scramble is otherwise a flavor-packed diversion from standard diner fare. The Desert Scramble ($9.99), meanwhile, offers a nod to Oaxaca with the inclusion of sautéed cactus and chorizo.
It's such a simple thing, but can we talk about the toast at 3 Brothers? It's a bit like when someone you love spends all day cooking a Thanksgiving meal, and you marvel over the yeast rolls. But this is not just any off-the-shelf Bunny Bread toast. Eliseo Sr. is the baker in the family, and the housemade bread he bakes here is similar to a pan amarillo (yellow bread). More white in color than yellow, this dense bread offers the right amount of bounce you want in a toast. It's also used to excellent effect in 3 Brothers' French toast, which is cubed and deep-fried and resembles golden croutons. Served with slices of strawberry and banana (I wish there were more), the French toast cubes remain perfectly crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle even after being doused in syrup. The breakfast staple comes in two sizes, small ($6) and large ($8)—the small is plenty, especially if you add eggs or bacon on the side.
3 Brothers also offers lunch and dinner, with a menu that careens from burgers ($9–$9.99) to pasta dishes like creamy Creole Macaroni (at $13.75, it's the most expensive item on this affordable menu) to Cuban roast pork or chicken (both $12). The roasted half chicken, marinated for 24 hours in vinegar, onions, garlic and oregano, is a standout that's served with black beans, rice, plantains and more of that homemade bread. That said, I'd love to see more Mexican fare on the dinner menu.
Having spent years working in restaurants, the Cruz brothers finally have one of their own, fulfilling a dream for the family, says Nivardo. The brothers like to keep the menu dynamic, he says, so keep an eye out for daily specials and the addition of a liquor license in the future.