Meatball on 34th Street

Doyle's is a 1950s Italian-American time capsule.

The Golden State poor boy is another oven-baked sandwich that I haven't had a chance to try yet. I don't know if the "Meatball Missile" is oven-toasted or not. There are also several cold Italian-style heroes and grinders that sound promising.

Doyle's "Classic" hamburger was disappointing. It's made with Certified Angus beef patties (I am guessing they come frozen) and topped with lettuce, tomato and red onions. The waitress asked if we wanted mustard or mayonnaise. We said we wanted both. Oddly, the sandwich came with the mustard spread on the crown bun pressed against the lettuce. The mayonnaise was on the bottom bun with the burger patty. Doesn't logic dictate that it should be the other way around? But regardless of the fine points of spread application, the whole thing tasted dry.

Doyle's feels like a restaurant lumbering toward the dinosaur graveyard, and that's a shame. It wouldn't take much to fix. But I think the coffee salesman who owns the place would need to take a lesson from the Barbecue Inn. There is no need to run off the old employees or drastically change the menu of a well-loved vintage restaurant. But you have to be good at what you do. Barbecue Inn isn't known for its barbecue anymore, but the place is packed all the time. The chicken-fried steak, the fried shrimp and the rest of the old-fashioned Texas diner fare is always top-notch. And the owners are always there.

Old-fashioned comfort food: Spaghetti "Works."
Troy Fields
Old-fashioned comfort food: Spaghetti "Works."

Location Info


Doyle's Restaurant

2136 W. 34th St.
Houston, TX 77018

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Outer Loop - NE


Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.Mondays through Saturdays.

Spaghetti Works: $8.95

Lasagna: $8.95

Sausage poor boy: $6.75

Hamburger: $4.49

Meatball Missile: $5.25

2136 West 34th St., 713-686-8271.

Doyle's is a wonderful old institution with a loyal clientele. There is no need to get rid of the dated spaghetti and pizza — the place just needs to add some juicy homemade hamburgers, decent gumbos and a couple of homemade desserts. But most of all, it needs an owner who is willing to be there.

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