We often hear the phrase "the price of progress" or toss it out in casual conversations. Sadly, there really is a price for progress, and in this city right now, with an absolutely stunning amount of road construction going on, "progress" abounds.
On the one hand, great! On the other, it's bad news for the businesses and shop owners that must suffer the consequences of lanes that change and narrow on a daily basis and the onslaught of little orange cones.
One such place is The City Diner, 6902 S. Lewis Ave. In their fourth year of business, the owners have been suffering the price of progress for quite a while.
My server, Denise, had the only attitude one can have. "We'll get through it," she said. "We've survived this long, we'll make it the rest of the way."
You've got to admire that.
I walked in on a Sunday morning at 7:30 to find myself the lone customer. A look at the menu told me this was a typical diner, with hearty breakfasts and good prices.
Tables and chairs are not beat up old auction stuff, but decent clean and inviting. Fresh paint on the walls; quaint, homey pictures and a well-lit room give customers a good sense of what's to come. A room on the other side of the main dining area housed tall café-style tables, still adorned with a few newspapers from the regulars that come to solve the worlds problems and wax nostalgic about the good 'ol days. Every diner has them.
All the standards are here, plus a few house specialties like a south of the border skillet and a breakfast plate that could feed half of Patton's third army. An oval plate probably 11 or 12 inches from end to end was piled high with golden brown fresh homefries -- not something pulled from the freezer -- the real deal, which are mixed with tons of breakfast sausage, sliced mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, tomatoes and melted cheddar/jack cheese and topped with a pair of giant fried eggs. You can, of course, mix and match items but this was the diner's standard recipe.
Diners choose between toast, biscuit and gravy, or pancake as the side dish. Biscuits and gravy finished off the meal along with a cup of fresh, hot coffee. The biscuit was soft and cakey -- not as flaky as I generally like -- but it did a good job of sopping up the gravy, which is, after all, it's main function: to be the vehicle to get the gravy goodness to your taste buds.
When I had finished, I still had half a plate of food left, and I had eaten till I was about to pop. An aside to my server about the fact that no human being is able to eat that much garnered a giggle and the matter of fact response that, "Some people tear it up pretty good!," which made me realize what a lightweight I must be.
As I sat eating, The City Diner started to get a bit busier.
Denise was friendly and talkative, and it was from her that I got the diner's back-story that it had been there for four years, and its owners hoped to be there a lot longer.
On another visit I tried the chicken fried chicken. For those who are confused by this variation of a southern classic, let me help. A chicken fried steak is a thin piece of beefsteak that is floured and fried like you would fry chicken. A chicken fried chicken then, gets the same treatment, only to a boneless chicken breast.
A full lunch menu as well as lunch blue plate specials is available and offers classic diner fare, including everything from chicken fried steak and meatloaf, grilled or smoked pork chops and three-way chili, to chef salads, burgers and sandwiches. Everything is available as call-in orders to go and like any authentic diner, breakfast is served anytime, day or night.
My chicken dinner was coated in a tasty, seasoned flour, fried crisp and peppery, then smothered with a good country milk gravy. I picked sides of mashed potatoes and green beans. The potatoes were real-deal and buttery, and the beans were typical of what my grandmother used to fix, tender and "bacony." But it doesn't stop there, I also got a choice of salad or soup, the later of which was a rich and flavorful vegetable beef that was quite good. It was late in the day, so the broth was about 10 minutes from being too salty, but other than that was actually quite good. The whole thing came with a big, homemade yeast roll, and cost an unbelievable $7.99.
Katie opted for a BLT with French fries. The bacon was crisp and tasty, the sliced tomatoes actually were red and tasty, and with the exception of bread that could have been a bit more toasted was a total success. The fries were crisp, fresh and hot, and our server was absolutely my grandmother -- or somebody's anyway -- and was so cute and doting it was like being back in Tennessee at my granny Marguerite's kitchen table.
The City Diner's prices are very reasonable, and make the portions a real bargain.
I wouldn't advocate supporting a place just to help them out, but City Diner -- along with a lot of other places in Tulsa -- could use some support, and would definitely benefit from folks making the extra effort to get there.
City Diner offers up good, solid diner food. It's nothing upscale or out of the ordinary, but it has good, wholesome food at good reasonable prices.
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