Sunday, May 20, 2012

Diners Around the World

Many American diners had closed by the 1970s, victims of the onslaught of fast-food chains. But nostalgia for the simpler postwar lifestyle and a love of ’50s kitsch and Art Deco has sparked a new wave of retro-styled diners, in the US, Europe, and beyond.

101 Cafe
631 South Coast Highway, Oceanside;
Built in 1928, the 101 Cafe has gone from diner to drive-in and back again. Painted with bright murals and filled with Highway 101 memorabilia, it serves classic diner meals and sandwiches, from French toast or buttermilk pancakes with bacon to meatloaf or double cheeseburgers with fries. The peanut butter malt is to die for.
Mel’s Diner
8585 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood;
The original Mel’s opened in 1947, and starred in the film American Graffiti, forming the backdrop for teenagers “cruising the strip” in California in 1962.
Unfortunately, it was demolished shortly after shooting, but this second-generation diner – opened by the original owner’s son – has recreated all the best parts, and has an outdoor patio where you can enjoy burgers and diner dinners under the neon lights.
The Nickel Diner
524 South Main St., Los Angeles;
Located in an old vaudeville theater in the newlygentrified area around Skid Row, the Nickel Diner plays with the classic diner repertoire to create some truly exceptional dishes: try the Big Time Cheddar, maple bacon doughnuts, and the red velvet cake.
Ruby’s Diner
1128 W Lincoln Ave., Anaheim;
Nab one of the carhop spaces here and you’ll get your chili fries served on roller skates. Vintage decor and a great menu make it a blast from the past. Also at Laguna Beach, Huntington Beach, and other locations around the US.
From homey neighborhood hangouts to slick retro-style restaurants, everyone in America has a favorite diner. Those listed below stand out for their history – some are original O’Mahony prewar models – and their decor, atmosphere, and authenticity, as well as their delicious diner fare.
66 Diner
1405 Central Ave. NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico;
Located right on historic Route 66, this fabulous diner has turquoise booths and golden oldies playing on the jukebox, and serves deluxe plates, blue-plate specials, and thick, creamy milk shakes from behind its shiny chrome and tiled counter.
Mickey’s Dining Car
36 West 7th St, St. Paul, Minnesota;
Fresh farm eggs, hand-shredded hash browns, spindle-blended milk shakes, and tasty family recipes have been served in this authentic O’Mahony diner since 1939. It’s now considered so precious that it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Summit Diner
1 Union Place, Summit, New Jersey; (908) 277 3256
Appropriately located opposite the train station, this 1938 Art Deco chrome beauty is another of the few remaining O’Mahony diners in the US. Enjoy Taylor ham (pork roll) and eggs with hash browns at the marble counter or in a red-leather booth.
Ed Debevic’s
640 N Wells St., Chicago, Illinois;
Rude waitresses in beehive hairdos and hornrimmed glasses who dance on the counter to ’50s hits are all part of the experience at this fun, retro diner. Great shakes and burgers.
Rosie’s Diner
4500 14 Mile Rd. NE, Rockford, Michigan;
A long menu of home-cooked favorites, from their signature slow-roasted beef and noodles to sloppy-joe sandwiches and blue-plate specials, are served in this authentic 1946 diner.
It’s not surprising that London, with its fashionable restaurants and love of quirky style, embraced the retro diner craze, but now shiny silver American-style diners are springing up in the rest of the country too.
Ed’s Easy Diner
12 Moor St., London W1;
The all-day breakfast, juicy burgers, and creamy shakes are a hit at this colorful diner with a prime corner spot in Soho. Hot pepper addicts will love the “atomic” American fries and onion rings. Grab a red swivel chair at the shiny chrome counter.
Good Life Diner
128–130 Curtain Rd., Shoreditch, London EC2;
Leather booths, lots of neon, and a ’50s soundtrack form the backdrop to the burgers at this trendy American diner, which has four other London locations, in Camden, Islington, Soho, and Kensal Rise.
The 50s American Diner
John St., Church Gresley, Derbyshire;
Burgers, steaks, and hot diggity dogs are served in this authentic, gleaming steel O’Mahony diner, shipped over from Boston to the National Forest in Derbyshire and filled with ’50s memorabilia. Friendly waitresses wear vintage dresses to serve up food in four-seater booths and the jukebox plays rock ’n’ roll.
With their long connections to America, it’s no wonder that the fun-loving Irish have taken classic American burgers, shakes, and diner dishes along with 1950s nostalgia into their hearts, and opened some great diners.
Eddie Rocket’s
7 South Anne St., Dublin;
Fresh-ground burgers, foot-long hot dogs, red-basket specials, and hand-dipped Shake Shop malts come with a huge helping of ’50s attitude. There are 20 Eddie Rocket’s diners in greater Dublin and more around the country.
Springsteen’s Diner
633 Lisburn Rd., Belfast; With its flashy neon jukebox, all-day breakfasts, Whitehouse burgers (named after US presidents), and big menu of American favorites, this characterful diner could have been born in the USA.
Retro diners have crossed over to the Continent too. Paris may be the preserve of French culture and cuisine, but even here the stylish appeal of old-style American diners flourishes on the Left Bank.
Breakfast in America
17 rue des Ecoles, Paris, France;
An ex-pat American filmmaker, longing for a stack of pancakes and a “bottomless mug o’ Joe,” opened this popular diner serving tasty all-day breakfasts, burgers, and blue plat du jour.
Happy Days Diner
25 rue Francisque Gay, Paris, France;
Enjoy mega-burgers, Long Island bagels, milk shakes, and more along with rockabilly music and a ’50s ambience at this cheery diner sporting turquoise booths and pastel-pink countertops.
Flamme und Feuer
Klein Breitenbach 2, Mörlenbach, near Mannheim, Germany;
Flamme und Feuer (“Flame and Fire”) has a long American menu, but it’s the all-you-can-eat burger and spare-rib nights and breakfast buffets that draw the Harley- and classic car-loving crowds.
American diners seem completely at home in the land of road trains and beach barbies, especially in the cities, where the 1950s memorabilia, rock ’n’ roll music, and diner fare add up to a really fun place to meet.
Big Rig Diner
231 Oxford St., Darlinghurst, New South Wales; + 61 2 9332 3197
Tasty burgers, homemade chili, and other American favorites come with a big dollop of ’50s style amid Elvis posters and great music on the jukebox. Check out the Houndstooth Bar at the back.
Misty’s Diner
103–105 High St., Prahran, Victoria;
Misty hails from Phoenix, Arizona, and her Aussie diner serves fare with a Southern flair, from deep-fried pickles and corn dogs to a bucket of pork ribs or “trailer-trash” fried steak. Misty’s motto: “Bring your appetite, it’s gonna get messy.”

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