Category Archives: Diners
At the tail end of March 2014, a friend and I decided to drive out to the Badlands, Mount Rushmore, and Devil’s Tower. It was springtime in the Midwest, and thoughts of winter storms were long behind us. About ninety minutes west of Sioux Falls along Interstate 90, however, the temperature began to drop, the wind picked up, and dark clouds formed ominously on the horizon.
Apparently we had driven into “Winter Storm Xenia,” which hit parts of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and northeast Wyoming. There were 5-6 foot snow drifts in Roseau, Minn and wind gusts of up to 64 mph in Rapid City.
We decided to stop for gas and check the weather at the Conoco gas station off Highway 16 near the tiny town of Kimball, South Dakota. “Real Food,” a large sign announced as we pulled off the interstate. The sign referred to Doo-Wah Ditty’s Diner, located inside the gas station.
Saw this old diner at the corner of Main and Broad streets as I was driving through Johnson City, near Binghamton, New York. It was closed at the time. I don’t think it’s a Red Robin franchise, and no one has posted a review on Yelp since 2015. I love the classic design, and check out that old 7-Up sign! The neighborhood is severely depressed, but there is a cool comic book and game store nearby.
Located at 1280 Coffeen Street, just off Interstate 81, in Watertown, New York, Shorty’s Place is a great 1950s-themed diner and a favorite of both locals and soldiers from nearby Fort Drum. It’s worth going for the decor alone. The owner must have spent a long time tracking down so much Coca-Cola-themed bric-a-brac. The diner is clean and nostalgia palpable. Seating includes a long counter, tables, and booths. Each booth contains a working jukebox.
Shorty’s food is diverse and above average. Menu choices include charbroiled pork chops, fried scallops, black & blue charbroiled chicken breast, pulled pork BBQ sandwich (Wednesdays), a breakfast lasagna, and more. They even have a limited beer and wine selection and make old-fashioned milkshakes with hard milk flavoring. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner is served all day, except for soup, which is only served in the afternoon and evening. Prices are reasonable: expect to pay between $10 and $13 per person, including a drink. The most expensive item on the menu is the friend seafood platter for $11.89.
Ever since I was a kid I’ve loved diners, especially 1950s-themed diners or old, out of the way places that haven’t changed their decor in forty years. Greasy spoons that wouldn’t pass a health inspection. Unfortunately, there aren’t many classic diners in Illinois. No, Denny’s doesn’t count. When I moved to New York, I discovered the East Coast loves diners too. I decided to start posting travelogues/reviews of some of the diners I’ve visited over the years. The following is a list of some of the ones I’ll be writing about.
- Mother’s Cupboard in Syracuse, NY
- Doo-Wah Ditty’s Diner in Kimball, SD
- Prospect Mountain Diner in Lake George, NY
- Knotty Pine Diner in Wampsville, NY
- Flo’s Diner in Canastota, NY
- Suburban Diner in Paramus, NJ
- And many more~!
Keep a lookout for my All-American Diner Tour, coming soon!