Route 66 Diner Boasts Varied Menu and Friendly Atmosphere, But Patrons Beware of the Greenbeans!

The Route 66 Diner, located on Central Avenue, just west of University, is a decently-priced, old fashioned diner that has friendly staff and a variety of dishes that make your mouth water.

This ’50s style diner is a part of the historic Route 66. A walk through the front door transports patrons back to the days of poodle skirts, Cadillacs and jukeboxes. The diner is themed turquoise, bubble gum pink and black. Neon signs give the rooms a slight colored hue. The floor is tiled black and white, and old ’50s antiques decorate the walls. The seating consists of a bar with swivel stools, booths and tables, all with turquoise vinyl upholstery. There are multiple rooms for seating, as well as an enclosed porch.

Guests are greeted by mostly young hosts and hostesses, usually college-aged. The men wear black pants and turquoise polo shirts with the restaurant logo printed on them. The women wear short ’50s style black and turquoise dresses with black sneakers.

I have dined at Route 66 several times, most recently, twice in the past week. On my first visit I was accompanied by my mother for an early dinner around 5 p.m.. We were promptly seated and upon our request, the waitress brought out chips and salsa. The chips were warm and perfectly salted. They were fresh and crisp. However, the salsa was a disappointment. It was slightly bitter and had too much vinegar. It seemed to have either been blended too much or made with canned tomatoes, which resulted in the coloring to be slightly brownish instead of red.

I ordered Chubby’s char-grilled hamburger steak, which consisted of an 8-ounce ground sirloin steak seated on a piece of Texas toast and topped with grilled onions and herbed butter. I was allowed to pick two sides, and I chose the mashed potatoes with white gravy and the veggie of the day, which happened to be green beans.

I ordered the steak medium-well and it was cooked beautifully. It melted in my mouth (which could have been a result of the toast that somehow remained slightly toasty while being soaked in butter). It was a little bland and required a shake or two of salt. The potatoes were creamy and had the skins, which added an interesting and surprisingly pleasant texture. They were seasoned with garlic but it was not too much so that I would be afraid to kiss a date goodnight afterwards. The gravy was very creamy and had the perfect amount of pepper. The green beans, however, may have been the blandest thing I have ever eaten in my life. They tasted like they were dumped out of a can and stuck in the microwave. They were rubbery and had no flavor whatsoever. No amount of salt could rescue those poor little beans.

My mother ordered the “Chicken Ranchero” dinner which consisted of an enormous chicken fried chicken breast that practically hung off the plate. It is supposed to come smothered in green chile sauce but my mother asked if they could do it Christmas style, with both red and green chile. They poured red on one half and green on the other and sprinkled cheese on top that melted nicely and made that stringy thing happen when she took a bite. She was allowed two sides as well and she chose mashed potatoes with brown gravy that was very salty and the unfortunate green beans.

The second time I went to Route 66, I was with my cousin late at night, to see how the food and service compared to the daytime hours. Our waiter rushed us a little, even though there were still a couple hours until closing. My cousin ordered the 66 Diner chicken fried steak which, although a huge portion, was a little disappointing. The batter was very nice and flaky but the meat was a little tendon-y, the tendons stretched and snapped when he took a bite. He ordered double fries for his sides and they were nice and crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

I ordered the same thing I had earlier that week, to see how it compared. This time, the steak was tough and not very hot and the bread was soggy. The onions were heaped in a sad, wilted pile on top and were definitely overcooked. The potatoes and gravy were still excellent and creamy. And (thank goodness!) the green beans were nowhere to be seen. In their place was sweet corn that definitely redeemed the unfortunate beans from before. It was lightly buttered and definitely the highlight of the meal.

Route 66 Diner is a cute little place that is family friendly. If you want to take a trip back into the ’50s, I highly recommend it. The atmosphere is pleasant and the food decently priced (the plates mentioned here ranged from $7.99 to $9.99). I would not recommend going later in the evening because the both the food and service go slightly downhill. Perhaps going after a city council meeting is not such a good idea after all.

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