Set Your Sights on One of These Hip New Spots in Your ’Hood
By Kristan Schiller
The diner is an icon of American life. And lucky for us, it’s come a long way since greasy sandwiches and french fries. With these great new-style versions cropping up around the country in all manner of spaces, you can experience a total reinvention of diner cuisine. Many boast highly trained chefs who infuse comfort food with state-of-the-art gourmet flair. Like the all-new 2014 Silverado coming this summer, they’ve truly raised the bar. So what are you waiting for? In the spirit of hard work and hard play, drive your Silverado to one of these superb contemporary diners near you.
The talented Stephanie Izard (Top Chef Season Four Winner) has just opened Little Goat just across the street from her much-lauded Girl & the Goat in Chicago’s West Loop. The globally inspired menu offers tasty treats like pulled-pork sandwiched between pork-fat donuts, kimchi bacon and eggs, and oyster po’ boy with fried pickles and hummus. The goat shepherd’s pie is to-die-for, as is the hot crab dip for an appetizer or late-night snack. Top it off with a thin mint shake, even if you have to loosen your belt a notch to do so.
Dock & Roll Diner
In the summer of 2011, three twentysomethings returned this diner to its former glory in a 20-foot, 1957 Airstream trailer in a parking lot in South Austin. With mouth-watering sandwiches like lobster rolls and BLTs (dripping with feta-ranch dressing), and sides such as Far East coleslaw (with Umami dressing and cilantro leaves), the Dock & Roll is here to stay. You’ll find picnic benches in lieu of counter service—the casual vibe is all part of the fun here.
Josh Henderson, who trained at the illustrious CIA, ran a popular food truck in Seattle for years before opening this uber-cool diner with swivel stools and vinyl booths in one of Seattle’s funkiest neighborhoods. While specials change daily and with the season, there are a few dishes not to miss: the mac & cheese with smoked gouda and melted leeks; and red beans and rice with brined and smoked pork shank. Oh, and pick up a jar of Henderson’s famous bacon jam on the way out.
M. Wells Dinette
Chef Hugue Dufour (of Montreal's celebrated Au Pied de Cochon) and his wife, Sarah Obraitis, opened M. Wells in July 2010 in a 1950’s dining car on a nondescript corner in Long Island City, Queens. In the summer of 2011, lease issues forced the popular restaurant to close, only to reopen a year later as a trendy museum café. Atop cafeteria tables, you will feast on rabbit terrines, foie gras flan and caviar. Museum admission is not required for entry, but this is no late-night affair; M. Wells is open only during museum hours, so plan to have completed your tasting session by 6 pm. (Street parking is limited; your best bet is to park just across the street from MoMA PS1 at 45-66 Davis Street. For details call 917-566-7537.)
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Kristan Schiller is a New York-based travel writer and blogger whose articles have appeared in Conde Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure and Fodor’s, as well as on Forbestraveler.com and Salon.com.