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Michael Phelps' old breakfast stop serves up Olympic-sized lunch

Remember Michael Phelps' mammoth Pete's Grille breakfast?

Four years ago, we learned that our hometown Olympian would go to Pete's for a breakfast of three fried-egg sandwiches, one omelet, a bowl of grits, three slices of French toast with powdered sugar, and three chocolate chip pancakes.

Maybe Phelps hasn't been seen much at Pete's in this Olympiad — a waitress said it's been about a year and a half since he's been in — but the Abell neighborhood diner has been a northside favorite for more than 40 years, and is still as popular as ever.

Pete's draws regulars to its 28-seat counter from Waverly and the nearby Hopkins Homewood campus and Union Memorial Hospital. Regulars know to bring cash; Pete's Grille doesn't take credit cards. They also know that Pete's is more than just breakfast.

On weekdays, the counter fills up early with diners looking for grill sandwiches, deli sandwiches and clubs and the daily changing lunch specials.

Wednesday's specials, for instance, are a meat loaf platter with mashed potatoes and fries and one vegetable for $8.95; a hot burger with mashed potatoes or fries ($7) and clams in a basket with fries ($6.50).

But for sheer Olympian excess, not much could top Friday's $8.95 roast beef dinner, which comes with either French fries or mashed potatoes and a vegetable. You can also order it without a vegetable and pay $6.95. This is a good old Baltimore-style open-face version, with roast beef piled on slices of thumb-soft white bread, topped with a generous ladle of homemade gravy. I'm convinced it's homemade, anyway.

The platter arrived, steaming, within 15 seconds of ordering — it's all ready to be put on your plate. I'm not sure how the beef holds up throughout the day, but in the late morning it tasted like it had just come out of the oven.

The roast beef is thickly sliced, seasoned modestly and cooked to a perfect medium rare. The portion I got was very big; I'm thinking about a half-pound.

I got a nice big pile of cloud-light mashed potatoes, too. I called Pete's to see if there was an official portion size, but the waitress who answered said they went more by eye than weight when plating it up.

So, make sure you smile when you order it.

Pete's Grille

Where: 3130 Greenmount Ave., Abell

Contact: 410-467-7698

Hours: 7 a.m.-1:15 p.m. Monday-Saturday for breakfast and lunch; 8 a.m.-1 p.m Sunday

Lunch entrees: $6-$9.50

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