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Comfortably nostalgia at the 66 Diner

If I have to choose between a meal looking good or tasting good, I always choose the latter. So when I ordered the chicken-fried chicken smothered in brown gravy from 66 Diner on Central – or Route 66 for the millennials – I should have known the plate would lack a certain … photogenic side.

But it was tasty. The chicken was tender, cooked just right, nicely breaded, then smothered in dark brown gravy almost the color of chocolate.

At 66 Diner, a quirky and historically spot-on restaurant, the focus is on classic dishes served in a campy, over-the-top 1950s roadside attraction.

The fried mozzarella sticks came out first, all greasy and gooey with sides of marinara and ranch for dipping. The serving is huge (for $7.99, not a bad deal), and the brown gravy also makes a good dip.

Service is fast, so you might end up with both at the same time.

The side salad was fresh and huge, definitely worth the $2 up-charge, and a healthier alternative to the other sides.

To stick with the classic theme, I also got ranch dressing. (OK, we didn’t fully understand the effects of ranch dressing or mozzarella sticks or gravy on the arteries in the 1950s. It was a simpler time.)

The main entree, hand-breaded chicken-fried chicken, came with delicious red-skin mashed potatoes, also smothered in thick gravy, and a wheat dinner roll (the only part not made in-house), so the whole plate was basically the same color of dull, dark brown.

The 66 Diner is on Central in what used to be a gas station. (Jason K. Watkins/For The Journal)

To honor my mother, whom I lost the week before, I finished the meal with a big, overflowing slice of fresh coconut cream pie ($4.99), her favorite. It was a great way to finish the meal, priced very well.

The period decor and the dessert menu provide a good enough visual if you happen to be a food Instagrammer.

The building itself is even notable; it’s been around since 1948, when it was built as a Phillips 66 gas station.

It became a restaurant 40 years later.

Service is excellent – dressing in a poodle skirt today probably doesn’t allow for much mediocrity – and the place is kid-friendly, with dozens of menu items that would appeal to any eater. The place is senior-friendly, too, for that matter, given the theme.

The meal tasted great, even if it wasn’t exactly ready for its close-up, and it was definitely comforting after a long week. It was mostly a nostalgia trip, though, with pretty good food in a unique setting at a fair price. It’s worth a visit, just for the kicks.


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