The Cuisine Scene
Brenda Hill

Gramma's Country Kitchen
Banning, CA

Several times while driving in Banning, I’ve passed a unique restaurant with a covered wagon sitting close to the entrance. Gramma’s Country Kitchen, the lettering on the cover proclaimed. I kept thinking I’d try it, but when I’m in Banning, I’m usually on my way to the old theater and I’m short on time. Tomorrow, I always thought.

Recently, while waiting in the checkout line at a local supermarket, I chatted with the lady behind me about restaurants. Of all places, she suggested Gramma’s, where she takes her family for the friendly atmosphere and down-home cooking. Locals gather in the mornings, she said, for coffee and homemade cinnamon rolls.  

That did it. Fate, you know. Homemade cinnamon rolls had nothing to do with it. Thinking of all the sacrifices I made for my job, I called Sheila and asked if she was ready to go to Banning.
Gramma’s sits on the south side of Ramsey, a few hundred feet east of Sunset Avenue. The yellow building with dormer windows looks more like a house than a restaurant, which adds to its charm.

The pioneer wagon is missing its cover, but Kathy Kennedy, who co-owns Gramma’s with Frankie Ramirez, told me the authentic wagon, originally brought in by forklift, was damaged by the recent high winds in the area and was now being repaired.

Past the wooden front door with a scrolled glass insert, Sheila and I found ourselves in a wood trimmed and wallpapered entrance. Inside, a counter and side tables held freshly baked cookies, brownies, and cinnamon rolls. Three seating rooms offer tables and booths and a brick fireplace stands in the center of the main room, beautifully decorated with Christmas ornaments.

Jeanette Gustas, the manager, seated us and our server, Charlene Alcala, told us about the day’s specials.

Jeanette Gustas and Charlene Alcala)

Gramma’s offers three homemade soups each day, ham and bean, vegetable, and on Friday’s, clam chowder. I chose the ham and bean and it was thick and delicious. 

Their menu offers over a page and a half of breakfast choices, and they’re served all day. Eggs with bacon, ham, sausage, polish sausage, turkey sausage, pork chops, choice of several steaks, pork chops and even pan-fried trout, ranging from $5.29 to $13.49 for the New York steak. Combos offers pancakes, French toast, or biscuits and gravy. All items include any two sides such hash browns, home fries, tator tots, fruit, cottage cheese, toast, two-dollar pancakes, English muffin, homemade biscuit and gravy. They even have grits, an old Southern dish, and a selection of South of the Border breakfast dishes served with beans, potatoes, toast or tortillas. Jeanette said their three-egg omelet’s are in demand, and they range from a garden veggie to The Kitchen Sink for $7.29.

If you prefer something light, they have about eight different salads, from a Hawaiian dish of chicken breast with pineapple, Bell peppers, mushrooms for $7.99, to a spinach salad tossed with grilled bacon, shredded eggs, tomatoes, cucumber, carrots and onions for $7.99. All salads are served with choice of garlic toast, biscuit, cornbread, or Gramma’s spice bread. Sheila chose the spinach with cornbread.

We decided to try their onion rings from the appetizer choices, and they were piled high and wonderful. Fresh, crispy, and not too much breading. The ranch dressing tasted homemade and Sheila and I munched on them while I tried to decide what to have for dinner.

When I glanced up from the menu, I spotted a server carrying a tray holding something that looked like a large chunk of French or Italian bread, and it looked good. Their sourdough bread bowls, Charlene told me, in which they serve their stew, soups and chili. A small salad is included, and the prices ranged from $5.29 to $7.99. I almost ordered one, but then I saw the chicken pot pie. Not only was the filling made from scratch, Charlene told me, but also the crust. Was it more like pie crust or a bread crust, I asked. Pie crust, she answered, and that’s what I love. But before I ordered, I checked the rest of the menu.

Some of their sandwich specialties include Philly steak and the triple-decker super club of turkey, ham, roast beef, corned beef, layered with bacon, tomato, Swiss and American cheese for $7.69. They’re served with choice of steak fries, onion rings, macaroni salad, Cole slaw, potato salad, salad or a cup of soup. Their hot sandwiches are meatloaf, beef or turkey, served with mashed potatoes and vegetable for $6.79. Their regular sandwiches are priced from $5.69 to $6.79 for their triple-decker club.

I almost chose their buffalo burger, quarter-pounder for $6.79, half-pounder for $7.79, but I kept looking. They have a ‘skeeter burger’, teriyaki burger, and several others ranging from $5.59 to $7.59.

Mexican combination plates include tacos, tostadas, chile rellenos and enchilada,, and the price depends on whether you choose two or three items, and whether it’s for lunch or dinner, but they range from $7.29 to $10.29. For lunch they’re served with rice and beans, and dinner combos include soup or salad.

Dinners are served with soup or salad and vegetables, choice of potato, onion rings, rice pilaf, apple sauce and cornbread, spice bread, biscuit, or garlic toast, and some of their selections are meatloaf, 2 center-cut grilled chops, several steaks, baked ham and chicken fried steak, and the prices range from $8.99 to $14.99.

Chicken and seafood choices include a homemade chicken pot pie, which is what I chose, turkey and stuffing, and they even have whole farm-raised trout, which is what I’ll try next time. Shrimp, salmon, halibut, cod and red snapper is on the list, from $8.99 for the fish filet to $12.99 for the trout.

The chicken pot pie arrived with a flaky golden crust and it looked like a picture. After having frozen pot pies at home, this was a treat.

They also have a senior and a childrens’ menu.

And of course, their desserts. Oh my. After making the trip for cinnamon rolls, I bypassed them for the crunchy fresh cookies and a brownie. A brownie? It was a huge square with chocolate frosting and covered with nuts. Oh my goodness, or I should mimic some of the young people and say oh my bad. 

Also on their menu are freshly made pies, including fruit in season. They even make them to go.

You might stop by, as they seem to love their customers. I’m glad I did.

Gramma’s Country Kitchen
2868 W Ramsey St
Banning, CA 92220
Open daily from 6am-9pm