Diners, Drive-ins and Dives© (My Way)

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Those of you that know me know I like to eat good food, with good friends in unique places. After gobbling down cold meals and fast food for the last 30+ years in the Fire Department, I really don’t care for most of the roadside, stamped out, sameness of the franchised eateries in the good ole USA. Let’s face it, the McDonalds in Hawaii looks (and tastes) just like the one in Baltimore or anywhere else for that matter. I make one exception, Cracker Barrel. They get it…good food…friendly service…terrific atmosphere and good price.

What I really like and hunt for are the home town, family restaurants and diners. The kinds with the quirky signs, big chickens, windmills, giant hot dogs etc. A throw back to simpler times. These are places where all the locals gather and discuss the latest gossip over great coffee and a few extra calories and cholesterol. Donna and I have found many of these places during our travels and we will publish our favorites from time to time. In the meantime…some of my ramblings will have to do.

The Ten Diner Commandments
  1. Thou Shall Not Eat Fast Food
  2. Remember Thy Local Family-Owned DINER and Eat There Often
  3. Thou Shalt Not Cover Stainless Steel with Brickface Or Wood
  4. Thou Shalt Not Worship Chains or Franchises (Except Cracker Barrel)
  5. Thou Shalt Not Worship the Drive-Thru
  6. Thou Shalt Tip Thy Server Generously
  7. Thou Shalt Not Whine when all the Booths are Full
  8. Thou Shalt Sit at the Counter
  9. Thou Shalt Eat a Hearty Breakfast at any Hour Of The Day
  10. Thou Shalt Not Hang-Out and Order Nothin’ but Coffee (That’s Why They Make Pies)
Some of my favorite Eating/food TV:

* Diners, Drive-ins and Dives
* Feasting on Asphalt (off the air now but may be re-run from time to time)

These kinds of places can be easy or hard to find. It just depends on the location. Some are stand-alone, others are in strip shopping centers, buried behind who knows what.

Some of my tips for finding good eating places:
  1. Ask the locals (no one ever recommended a fast food place…ever!)
  2. In farm country, get up early and look for all the pick-up trucks (tourists don’t drive those)
  3. Ask the locals
  4. Google (that can be a crap shoot, we found a few closed and abandoned places)
  5. Ask the locals
  6. Ride until you find one (some of the best rides ever came from this method)
  7. Ask the locals
  8. Look for a lot of motorcycles
  9. If all else fails or time is of the essence…ask the locals.
“Til next time…Keep rollin’ (and eating)..we will"


  1. I love it! My husband and I live by those 10 commandments, too - including Cracker Barrel. As a matter of fact, my husband's retirement "goal" is to eat at every CB in the country! We've hit 63 thus far, although we've eaten at CB more often than that, we can only count them once. ;) And there's nothing like a local diner.

    Safe travels!

  2. You betcha on breakfast at any time of day! My favorite meal!

  3. Stu, we couldn't agree more (except we aren't all that fond of Cracker Barrel). Next time you're in Oklahoma, try a hamburger at the Meers Store in the tiny town of Meers. For details, see our blog posting dated May 4, 2008! It was probably one of the top 2 burgers we've ever eaten, and we don't remember the other one.

  4. If you and Donna get back to my neck of the woods, Cornelia, GA. I have three places like that near my new place and they are all on the same block. One is called Fender's, a 50's style dinner much like the one in your photo. Great burger called the Big Bopper and other foods as well, like daily specials which included two meats and several veggies and an old style soda fountain for shakes and ice cream sundaes. Another is called Gusbens, nice family operation with lots of great food choices as well as a great salad bar. Then their my grand kids favorite, The Warehouse Restaurant. This place has the BEST Chicken Fingers in town as well as a few other meats and plenty of veggies. Then if you still have room they have an ice cream machine with different toppings and two different types of Cobblers daily. I would love to treat you two to lunch or dinner if you ever get back through here. :) Sandy

  5. "Thou Shalt Not Hang-Out and Order Nothin’ but Coffee (That’s Why They Make Pies)"
    When I was growing up (40s and 50s), it was practice in my family to stop for coffee occasionally on any trip, and my dad said it is just rude to order coffee without having a slice of pie to keep it from sloshing in the stomach! Thanks for that great memory.

  6. Amen Brother! There is nothing better than a diner breakfast unless it is a diner blue plate special. Cracker Barrel? Only when my wife makes me.

    Doug Dubrouillet

  7. I enjoy reading your blog on travels.. Loved the piece on Diners... I totally agree a Diner isn't a Diner unless its shrouded in Chrome! Thats a NJ Diner!

  8. You have it right, there is nothing like diner food to satisfy the soul. I remember as a child we took many rv roadtrips all over the US, and some of my fondest memories are of the onion rings, fresh shakes, Woolworth diners blue plate special, or the grill cheese, and the old silver bullet looking diners that used to popular back in the 60 - 70's. Thank you for the trip down memory lane!


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