Southern Warmth & Flavor at the Welcome Diner

Photos courtesy of Welcome Diner

It’s a warm night but the misters keep the patrons cool in the friendly enclave that surrounds the Welcome Diner in downtown Phoenix. The short curve of counter seats within the trailer/diner are all taken and folks fill the odd assortment of picnic tables and chairs available outside.

Meanwhile, our server Brandon is serving up refills on iced tea with the speed of a Southern hostess at a summer garden party, bless his heart. The Welcome Diner offers Southern-style homecookin’ with a neighborly feel.

Truth be told, I love few things in this world (culinarily-speaking)* than a really great cheeseburger… you know, after those 14 years of being a vegetarian. I still like to stay away from creepy cancer meat (it’s an industry term) and Welcome Diner serves only Niman Ranch beef.

So, of course, on my first trip to the Welcome Diner I had to partake of their burger offerings. The Welcome Burger combines sharp cheddar, bread & butter pickles, garlic aioli, and fixings for a penultimate version of an American Classic. The more daring foodies might opt for the PB+B Burger which uses crunchy peanut butter, bacon, cheddar, and pickles to create its one-of-a-kind flavor.

The Vegan Po’Boy (fried avocado, kale, pico de gallo, and chipotle remoulade on French bread) knocked the socks off the vegetarian in our party. The Louisiana Sampler, one of the daily specials, took the award for most-authentic home-feelin’ meal: Catfish with a side of collard greens and red beans & rice.

For my second trip, I had to try one of the biscuit sandwiches. It is, after all, a Southern eatery, is it not? I opted for the Little Birdy only to discover there’s nothing really little about it. Fried chicken and cheddar on a fresh biscuit. The Carol looks like a winning pick: Kiltlifter-braised pork, red cabbage slaw, & Carolina mustard sauce. The biscuits are fresh, flaky, and worth the trek to the diner alone: you can order them with preserves and goat cheese as a tasty snack or simple desert anytime.

I rarely imbibe but when I do I’m the jerk that wants the drink I read about in a Fitzgerald novel. Yes, that jerk, but I have tremendous guilt over this. Welcome Diner offers up a couple daily cocktail options for the curious drinker who (a) doesn’t want to antagonize the bartender with ridiculous drink requests (b) wants something fancy like a Boulevardier. The rest of you can still have a Pabst Blue Ribbon or Dos Cabezas Red so fear not.

The Welcome Diner has to make your restaurant bucket list. You won’t regret it. In fact, there’s a good chance you’ll be hooked on from your first visit just as we were.

I suggest “Liking” their Facebook Page here so you can see what kind of specials they’re cooking up each week. You might discover that a new arrival of summer peaches has resulted in pie and need to re-route your plans for the day to include a stop by the diner. True story.

*I made up the word “culinarily” for all of you out there still in school.

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