Think about diners.
Ever thought about what the ultimate diner would be? For me its this: perfect hash browns (big and chunky, crispy and meaty, just the right amount of greasiness, wonderful), open all night, good diner coffee, availability of marmalade and blackberry jam, slightly bitter waitresses, a non-hip non-party atmosphere and preferably an outdoor dining area where smoking is allowed. After doing a lot of diner hopping I did find it, Harry's Family Restaurant in Burbank, California. I'm still looking though. What's your idea of the ultimate diner? Have you found it?
I don't know if it's still there but Ken and Hazel's in Delray Bch.Fl. Old building next to the railroad tracks that would rumble when the train went by. Every type of person went in there and the waitresses called you "Hon". Home of the 3 egg breakfast. Stayed w/you all day.
House of Pies in Houston. Dingy decor that hasn't been changed since the place was built some decades ago, open all night, serves mountains of eggs and bacon for a pittance. It's *the* place to go when the bars close, and one of the last places I can think of with a smoking section. And of course, the pie. It's not the greatest, but they have at least 30 flavors and they never skimp on the whipped cream. I miss it now that I live in DC, where the post-bar eggs options are severely limited, and generally too sleek and shiny for my taste.
I've been to great diners, but I'm still on a quest for the Ultimate!
Good call on the hashbrowns, rocky! Also I'd love a diner that's open all night too and has: bottomless cup of good hot coffee & hot chocolate, crispy fresh waffles, real maple syrup, boysenberry jam (a welcome addition to the always-present strawberry & grape!), fluffy omelets, great tuna melts, beer-battered french fries, American chop suey, great mac & cheese, killer spinach pie, and malted milkshakes that come with the mixing container to hold the rest of the creamy goodness! (Can you tell I'm writing this before dinnertime?!) ;o)
Again - I'm still looking. Looks like a tall order, right?! ;o)
The Bluebird in New Orleans. Open 24/7, or used to be, and the clientel was across the board from dignitaries returning from an embassy event, to bums, who had just scored $2.00. Food was good, and service was excellent, whether you were in black-tie with a sash, or in your Salvation Army finery.
Don't know of any in Phoenix, but I'll bet there is some Mexican diner, that fits the bill perfectly.
My #1 requirement in the ultimate diner would be that those cakes and pies they always display in the cases taste as good as they look! So many times I see yummy looking cakes and when I get my slice, I find them to be dried out and stale from sitting in the case for....well, a long time, I guess!
Good fries and gravy
Customizable breakfasts (none of this "no substitutions")
Bottomless coffee and open 24-7 should be a given
Grilled cheese on challah bread
Ability to order something 'odd' (like the pasta dish or the baked chicken) and have it be passable, if not as good as the burgers and fries