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Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe

Most diners these days tend to be straight outta the movie Pleasantville; the attitude and ambience is so retro-1950s, you almost expect the place to be in pre-Technicolor black and white. For good ol' American comfort food without feeling like you've just stepped into a Happy Days outtake, check out Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe. The name is a nod to a song by the Clash, which makes sense, as the establishment is partly owned by punk superstar Mike Dirnt of the East Bay's own Foxboro Hot Tubs. That lends Rudy's a coolness factor you won't find in typical chain-owned theme diners, and creeps into both the ambience and the menu choices. The tatted-up waitstaff resembles Amy Winehouse more than Doris Day, and the in-house background music tends more toward contemporary indie rock, punk, and classic reggae than stuck-in-a-time-warp jukebox selections. The menu offers a bit more variety than just nostalgic Americana — good luck ordering a Guinness milkshake at Johnny Rockets — but doesn't deviate too far from what a diner should be: tasty, reasonably inexpensive food with hearty portions. If anything, Rudy's adds a bit of health-consciousness to classic diner fare. Of course you can get a patty melt, onion rings, or B.L.T., but you can also order veggie chili, a Portobello-and-roasted pepper sandwich, or any one of eight (count 'em!) different salads. Breakfast is served all day — great for musicians who keep irregular hours — while beers are just a buck after 9 p.m. Best of all, the joint is open until 1 a.m., just the thing after a night of laying down tracks in the studio.

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