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May 31st, 2000

Diner Culture

This past weekend I went to Duke University for a wedding, and because we left on the Friday before Memorial Day during rush hour, I decided to avoid the DC beltway and take some back roads to get to 95 South. I’m glad I did, because we took a dinner break at a diner I had a heard a lot about, the Frost Diner in Warrenton, VA.

The diner subculture is one of the last pieces of true Americana that remains after small towns have been strip-malled to death and large cities overrun with Starbucks. If you find a real diner anywhere in America, you can walk in and expect three things:

  • Interesting characters
  • Tasty, unhealthy food
  • A waitress with a hairy mole that calls you “hon”
There are two types of diners: diner restaurants (larger diners, generally like a regular restaurant except in name) and what I call the “real diners” (generally, the smaller they are, the better). The real diners are the ones where you can eat the All-American dinner: a greasy cheesburger, a milkshake where they bring you the extra, and a good selection of pies (and depending on the ownership, you may also get some good Greek food).

My two favorite diners are the 2400 Diner in Fredericksburg, VA (they have the most incredible souvlaki I’ve ever had) and the 29 Tastee Diner (see also their old menu and their new menu) in Fairfax, VA. My recent visit to the Frost Diner convinced me to rank it pretty high up there as well. My cheesesteak and Dr. Pepper float dinner were accompanied by a good local story. A regular had come into the diner the previous week and ordered her meal. By the time it came, she decided that she wasn’t hungry, so she paid for the meal and told them to hold onto it and she’d be back later to finish it. That night the woman was found dead in a major car crash down the road. Kind of makes you think about what might have happened if she had stayed and finished her dinner, eh?

Unfortunately, the Diner Experience is getting harder and harder to come by. People are opting for Applebees, T.G.I.Friday’s, Ruby Tuesdays, or any other cookie-cutter chain and skipping out on the mom-and-pop restaurants and diners that give locales their individuality. Chains like the Silver Diner are popping up in an attempt to re-create the experience, but it’s just not the same.

Tonight, why not:

-ram

Posted in Food and Beverage

mike engle October 18, 2006, 3:55 am

Finally got to the Frost Diner on my way to Florida from New York.

Made it my goal to stop there and the Triangle Diner in Winchester.

Also got to put out props for the Stone’s Downtown Diner in Hopewell down by Richmond! This is another great place worth the 5 miles side trip off of The highway!

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