Monday, September 18, 2006

Deluxe Town Diner: Watertown MA

I've been composing this in my head for almost a year now. We keep eating at this diner, and I keep not writing this review. I want to write something more than drooling praise, but that seems to be all the comes to mind.

Update 2/11/07: we've had to revise our recommendation on the diner. Everything you read here still applies if you eat in the evenings, but the morning staff has apparently changed, and there are some serious problems. Read more about it here.

The food is great. I've ordered something different every time we've gone and it just gets better every time. They are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They have a really diverse array of food options, including wonderful vegetarian dishes. Not just a veggie burger or pasta, but real meals made with vegetarians in mind. Last time we went I figured I'd give the "tofu burger" a try... its not something I would normally order, but I was feeling adventurous. The waitress answered honestly when I asked her about it, "Tofu isn't really my thing, but customers seem to like it." I was surprised at how good it was. I should mention that the servers are always friendly and give good suggestions if you can't decide.

The menu is not geared just towards vegetarians or "health nuts", though. They have standard comfort foods that are sure to please - like mashed potatoes with just the right amount lumps and garlic. Their meat-burgers are fantastic, too, and while the value of having American Kobe beef in burger form is dubious at best, they offer turkey, buffalo, and other alterna-meats as well. Darius has never had one of their burgers he didn't like. You also get a choice of regular fries or sweet potato fries. Their regular fries are nothing to write home about, but their sweet potato fries are excellent.

They even offer sweet potato waffles! Their breakfast menu (which can be ordered from at any time) is expansive, and includes many different kinds of waffles and pancakes. Not just "kinds" as in "toppings" but rather "different starch bases," including bulgur wheat.

Deluxe Town Diner is also a bakery, and they offer fresh, exotic breads, including flavors like jalepeno jack. You can get any of their great breads on any sandwich. They also have these amazing-looking spiny cupcakes. Like little, delicious porcupines they are.

Rounding out all this is a great beverage selection, from unusal sodas like Doc Brown's, to scary neon green lime rickeys, to a selection of over a dozen teas.

The downfall of many New Jersey diners (in my admittedly skewed opinion) is that they offer way too many options. They have novel sized menus with so many options that the ingredients can't possibly be fresh. I also have my doubts as to whether or not a short order cook would know how to make many of the things offered on their menus. This is why the large menu as Deluxe Town Diner was so surprising. A wide range of options, and yet they are always cooked well. And they pride themselves on having fresh, local, and/or organic ingredients. We recently went for dinner and sat next to a gorgeous dessert stand full of heirloom tomatoes.

I could go on, but instead I'll sum it up. I once heard a friend comment that "it was cheaper when it was just the Town Diner". I didn't live here then, but I don't want it to ever go back. Sure, its not the dirt cheap diner fair that some people expect, but the portions and quality are worth the price. I think that they have managed to successfully create a contemporary diner experience. I do not mean "modernized" they way people often mean it - this is not haute cuisine gussied up inside an old diner shell. I know that everytime I go to the Deluxe Town Diner, I'll get food I endjoy in a comfortable atmosphere. Isn't that the essence of diners? I think so.

Deluxe Town Diner
(google map)
627 Mt Auburn St
Watertown MA

7 am - 10 pm every day



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