It's a neighborhood spot. The kind you drive by everyday on your way to work or carpooling the kids from class to practice. There's a restaurant like it in almost every neighborhood - the one that's always busy, but you keep driving past without stopping. Still your friends keep talking about eating there, one even drives from Midway for the Chicken Pot Pie, and you wonder why you don't visit more frequently.

Cowboy Grub stands as my neighborhood drive-by. It's more than 20 years old, a gathering spot near the I-80/Foothill interchange and buried under a beauty salon, a real estate office, next to Missy Marlowe's Gymnastics Center and a huge commercial construction project. Not exactly scenic territory, but the hungry clientele don't seem to notice the scenery outside. Folks are generally waiting in line inside to get a shot at the earthy-toned Naughahyde booths and an overall setting that makes you think you're at the ranch with the chuckwagon crew.The backroom buckaroos stir up a variety of home-on-the-range comfort foods like Chicken Fried Steak ($9.50), a tenderized and lightly breaded cube steak atop a richly flavored chicken gravy and is joined by tender crisp, mixed vegetables and a specialty side dish of spuds. Another frequently ordered entree is the Old-Fashioned Pot Roast ($9.75), a fork-tender cut smothered with vegetables and gravy. Dinners also include a trip to the 20-plus item salad bar or a cup of soup, usually a choice of four flavors like potato cheese or tomato macaroni.

Specialties include the Grub's personalized Chicken Pot Pie, ($5.95), a grilled chicken breast with steamed veggies in a light chicken sauce over a pastry shell, an inverted type pie.

Homemade bread tops a selection of sandwiches like the Uppity ($5.50), a grilled collection of ham, turkey and mozzarella topped with avocado and lettuce, a rather unlikely combination of fresh and cooked ingredients, which results in soggy bread coverings. Other choices include the Bull Shipper ($5.75), a bulky 1/3-pound burger or a Chicken Teriyaki ($5.75), a marinated chicken breast with Swiss cheese and pineapple.

A full plate, made-from-scratch brownie, the Buckaroo ($3.25), topped with ice cream and whipped cream, then thick, dark chocolate fudge sauce completes the soothing touches of the comfort foods-inspired menu. Fruit and cream pies ($1.75 or $2) or whole-wheat flour carrot cake and cream cheese icing ($2.50) add further homey touches to chowing down at the Grub.

"Comfortable" describes the popularity of the Cowboy Grub - defined by old-fashioned, country-inspired favorites and the hand-beaten divinity or chewy oatmeal-raisin cookies at the checkout. My advice: Sneak through the line and grab a cookie to hold you over until you get to a booth for supper.