For whatever reason, I've always been fascinated with diners. Right off the bat, I should state that I don't mean any of the hokey shit, the "5 and Diner" teenage sock-hop junk, the kind you'd find in a movie about a fast car, prom night or a group of jacked-up hooligans looking for trouble. No, no, I'm talking about the dumps, the dives, the places where people look for a quiet place to sit before they commit a grand heist. Or a diabolical murder. Or just want to drink some stale coffee.
I suppose it stems from "Twin Peaks." Or maybe even episodes of "Roseanne." I'd like a diner with wood paneling, waitresses in uniform and a whole hell of a lot of friendly banter. I want to eat a fat, juicy burger followed by a slice of cherry pie. The cherry pie has to be sitting in a revolving glass container. Ideally, I'd like a cloud of cigarette smoke to infiltrate my entire personal space, too. It completes my vision.
Denny's? IHOP? It's close, but it ain't ever gonna be the same. No big names, no chain restaurants. I want the real deal, the whole sausage. Whatever that means.
I think I like the stuff from the 70's and the 80's, or at least what's portrayed in the movies during those eras. Any movie with a scene where truck drivers are eating breakfast? That's the diner I wanna be in. What about the scene where the neighborly waitress knows the main character's order before they even order it? Because that's the one. That's the diner.
I'll even settle for the diner in "Groundhog's Day" or "Wayne's World," even if they did only seem to sell doughnuts. They have to sell hamburgers, though. It's important to my dream. It's the staple in this scenario. A cup of hot coffee, a burger and a slice of grandma's apple pie. It's the quintessential trio of diner dining. It's classic, it's required...it's professional. There's professionalism about it.
Which gets me on to hamburgers.
Cheeseburgers. Double cheeseburgers. Whatever floats your boat, it's all the same to me.
Normally, I hate greasy food. Well, overtly greasy food. It has nothing to do with health, diet or moral conviction, but rather a large disdain for the "greasy aftermath." My fingers and hands are covered in goo, my clothes on the constant verge of being forever-stained...it's just altogether quite stressful.
But in moderation? Sure. Fried selections as an appetizer is alright, but something like a big bucket of KFC? Or a Philly Cheesesteak? I can't do it. I JUST CAN'T DO IT. There's a small list of guidelines I follow, and a vat full of wet chicken parts is off limits. Now, a vat full of wet cow parts? That's a whole different story.
If a burger is just absolutely dripping with grease, in my bizarre, calculating mind, I can somehow justify putting it into my body. Sure, ya eat too much greasy foods you'll feel like shit, but other than the insane fear of sticky, gross hands, I pretty much eat what I want to eat, even if I'm cramping up on a toilet an hour after. So if I'm gonna chomp down on a nasty, artery cloggin' selection of shit, I'm gonna do it and I'm gonna do it right.
Somehow, magically, with a magnificent hamburger at play and in hand, I've found that "the grease isn't that bad." Color me psychotic, but it's the way I think on the situation. Just total and complete denial. Maybe I'm bi-polar? Maybe I just really favor hamburgers over all, and can figure them to be healthy addition to my diet? Oh, that last one sounded good. I'm gonna write that one down.
Well, damn. Now I gotta mention this "magnificent burger."
I intended for this to be another long winded, aimless post, but I might as well turn it into a review, too. Maybe, like, a mini review? Yeah, a Mini-Review!
There's a place in town called The Chuckbox. A total hamburger heaven, with a menu consisting entirely of what else you want to put on your hamburger. The list is endless and robust, which is just a clever way of saying that I can't remember any of it besides what I ordered.
For me, I went with the "Tijuana Torpedo," a near pound of delicious meat topped off with a green chile and pepper jack cheese, I think. There was cheese, no doubt. Let that be known.
I wanted to take it home and at least take a photo of it, but when I got to the place, I noticed it wasn't quite the "take out" kinda joint. You order, you wait, you're given a hamburger on a paper plate. The charm, I suppose, is that the place is as simple as simple gets. You get to see the dudes grilling up your patty, you see the guy tenderly working the fries into a vat of oil. The place is adorned with painting of cowboys, cattle skulls and anything else you'd find in a western movie. It doesn't seemed forced, though. Almost as if the guy running the cash register really liked cowboy junk and decided to bring in his own collection of memorabilia. I dunno, it just feels right and good and wholesome, pardner.
Seeing as there's no visible option for takeout, I totally kinda freaked. I mean, who the hell goes to a place to eat alone? What would I do? Be that douche staring at his phone the entire time? There was a TV playing football, and unless I could feign interest in the most outstandingly boring thing to watch on TV, I was screwed.
Well, I was already in, so I couldn't back out. This, unfortunately, led to two problems:
I had to eat fast and I couldn't take a photo. Eating quickly wouldn't be a problem, but busting out a phone, alone at a table, to take a photo of my food? Nuh-uh, no way, not gonna happen. My face feels hot just thinking about it. So I gobbled it down in record time, with no regard for grace nor immediate heartburn. In my infinite idiocy, I tried to imitate a man on the run. Someone who needed to be somewhere important, but had to stop in to grab something to eat. No fuss, no muss. It would be the only way to substantially excuse the creepy, lone gunman in the corner. Whether my ruse worked or not, the burger was delicious. Totally greasy, totally satisfying. The damn thing was absolutely dripping. So into Paint I went, pulling together a rendition and ode to my love of hamburgers. I like how the grease looks like slime. Pretty cool.
Set in the middle of the place is a condiment bar, too, with all sorts of extras. Jalapenos, onions, ketchup, mustard, etc. Nothing of interest to report on the matter, just stating the facts.
Chuckbox décor: Check
Football dilemma: Check
Condiment bar re-cap: Check
Sadly, the "Tijuana Torpedo" kicked my ass. Unsure if it was the quick entrance into my guts, the sheer amount of meat consumed or a combo of the two, but I was instantly bloated, all-over-hurting and doubled over in a post food orgy of pain.
I loved it and I cannot wait to eat another one again.