59 Diner

59 Diner (Town & Country location), Houston, Texas
January 1, 2008

I hope you all had a fun, relaxing and — for some — quiet, Advil – and – bottled – water – filled New Year’s Day!

For my part, I spent a good hour and a half parked in front of a mouthwatering Texas Grilled Cheese sandwich and a butterscotch malt at 59 Diner. I was in comfort-food heaven.

It was initially a tough debate between the meatloaf with sides of baked squash casserole and mustard greens and the Grilled Cheese, but here’s what ultimately swayed me: two kinds of cheese, with tomatoes (!!!), all grilled together on thick slices of jalapeño-cheese bread. Oh, you sweet, sweet cheese. You’ve got me by the heartstrings.

The 59 Diner at Town & Country took the place of a Macaroni Grill that — thankfully — vacated a strip center which was once anchored by a Best Buy and a large pet store, up until about four years ago. The entire Town & Country/west Memorial landscape has changed so much in just the last five years that I’m sure someone returning to their childhood home would hardly recognize the place for all of the freeway expansions, demolitions and stucco monuments to conspicuous consumption.

While I certainly don’t miss Macaroni Grill, it was heartening to see 59 Diner take its place after it was eminent domained out of its prior west Houston location further up I-10. Nothing will ever replace the original 59 Diner of my childhood and adolescence — one of the few warhorses still left around Greenbriar — and its funky charm. I have many fond memories of devouring Rings of Fire (am I the only one who remembers those? they were like an Awesome Blossom, but incredibly spicymmm…) along with my ubiquitous butterscotch shakes, crammed into a booth with friends at ungodly hours of the night, laughing and people-spotting and scarfing down plate after plate of greasy, onion-based diner food.

These days, I appreciate other aspects of 59 Diner. Namely, the classic American dishes of so many church potlucks and Sunday dinners. They offer up pot roasts, meatloafs, BLTs, chicken-fried steaks and chicken & dumplings to rival your momma’s along with side dishes that are almost obsolete these days, like greens, black-eyed peas and baked squash casserole. And their daily blue plate specials can’t be beat: $7.oo to $8.00 for a plate full of food and two sides, which is enough for lunch and dinner. Interested in breakfast? They serve a wicked breakfast menu, too, for as much as you’d pay at a dirty, befouled IHOP or Denny’s, but with the kind of food that feels and tastes like it came out of your own kitchen.

The Town & Country location is a little bigger, a little newer and a little more sterile than I’d like — the overly-cutesy Roy Lichtenstein-esque prints on the walls and the neon jukebox are almost too much for me — but overall, it’s still a great place to meet up with friends, day or night, for some great 50s-inspired home-cooking and a colossal malt.

…and remember to always make it a malt. You can get a shake anywhere, but very few places make a good malt these days, and 59 Diner is a proud owner of one of best.

Happy New Year, guys and gals!

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