Dip’s Grill is the kind of convivial place that attracts lingerers who like to schmooze the night away over dinner. The long room a couple of doors down from Alhambra Bowling Center hums with bright light and activity: a couple courting, two friends catching up, a table full of women watching a vacation slide show on an iPad. Three TVs tuned to sports channels increase the hubbub as waitresses rush around delivering small plates of classic Vietnamese food (an excellent grilled shrimp salad, rice-paper rolls, noodles and great-looking crêpes called banh xeo), as well as such friendly hybrid dishes as skewers of chicken, beef, sausage and corn, curried or marinated; sliders (juicy fried chicken); crispy and abundant shoestring fries; and pork belly buns (delicious morsels of pork on soft, steamed rice-flour buns that look like fat tortillas). The tea and drinks keep coming, and the friendly staff is in no hurry to rush you out of your booth—they assume you’ll order something every 20 minutes or so to keep the conversation flowing. A select few beers on tap keep things otherwise lubricated, and the desserts (we went for butterscotch cake à la mode) are rich and generous. The menu could come straight off a food truck (the appetizer portions are similar in size), but why would you give up the comfort of Dip’s stylish, new-urban-diner environment for standing around in a parking lot?
Dip’s Grill 1412 E. Valley Blvd., Alhambra, 626 294.3477, dipsgrill.com. L & D Wed.-Mon. Vietnamese/American. Beer. AE, MC, V. $$