Reviewing Diners Around St. Louis
Yelp’s top-rated local restaurants are too classy for some. What fills their stomachs are diners, and those diners fill them with bacon and coffee. Diners are a superficial snapshot of supposedly simpler times. When there’s nothing else open at 3 a.m., drastic measures have to be taken.
1950s memorabilia and bookshelves displaying cheap thrillers by Tom Clancy ghostwriters cover the walls. It smells of coffee and fried eggs; food can be heard as it’s fried in ungodly amounts of butter.
Tiffany’s is intimate, packed and narrow. A dozen stools are pushed up against the long bar. You can catch up on the news with an out-of-place flat screen, read the newspaper or watch your food cook from start to finish.
The coffee is good. The gravy-smothered country fried steak is even better. It touches your heart in a way that gets you past the molten gravy scorching your mouth.
Tiffany’s makes no qualms. The food isn’t expensive and it’s about as healthy as you can expect it to be for the price.
An unspoken agreement occurs between the customer and Tiffany’s: for one meal, don’t worry about the grease and calories — pretend that bacon is healthy for you.
Eat Rite is a hidden treasure. From the vantage of its graffiti-littered parking lot, there is a pleasant view of the Arch, Busch Stadium and Downtown St. Louis, the city squirming with highway traffic and ambling trains.
The exterior of the diner is a whitewashed cube. There are no tables, just a long wooden bar. A Winston cigarette machine ($6 a pack, what a steal) and touchscreen jukebox occupy corners of Eat Rite.
Patrons sit on chromed stools with vinyl cushions in front of the grill, resting their arms on worn spots in the bar-top.
The cheeseburger and pecan pie were great.
There’s almost a culture shock after leaving the tile, chrome and vinyl of Eat Rite. With its view of the city, it is distinctly St. Louis.
It’s always good to start with positives.
Courtesy Diner had a jukebox that plays Patsy Cline and Elvis Presley. Combined with vinyl booths and tile flooring, it has a quaint atmosphere.
Atmosphere only goes so far. Courtesy serves the slinger, a shovelful of hash browns, eggs, hamburger patties, cheese and onion drowned in chili. The slinger, especially at Courtesy, is the type of regional creation that makes you vaguely ashamed of St. Louis.
There’s always one positive thing about a place that can make or break one’s opinion.
Courtesy has good coffee. Too bad it doesn’t change my opinion.
Story by Aaron Tomey
Photo by Melissa Buelt