Diners Drive-ins and Dives

I enjoy watching Diners Drive Ins and Drives. It’s enough to make a vegetarian like me want to eat meat again. There’s none other like Guy Fieri and those cars he drives – nice, very nice cars!

The variety of food influences in America is vast – Cuban, Mexican, Creole, Italian, Greek and…meat…it’s a meat culture like ours. Life revolves around meat. It all looks yummy (I haven’t always been vegetarian, I still remember what meat tastes like).

Which begs the question – do we have diners in South Africa right now?

There’s a 24hr joint in the Alberton boulevard called Pink Cadillac. It used to be open 24hrs – it now has an opening and closing time. I think a diner should be a 24hr place. Anytime you’re hungry, there’s a place to go. Hungry after a concert – no problem, go to the diner. Hungry after a night out – no problem, drop by the diner. Hungry, no food in the fridge – no problem, there’s the diner. Good home-style food. The Pink Cadillac menu included spaghetti bolognaise and macaroni cheese at any time of the day or night 🙂

We have tons of restaurants and coffee-shops which have an opening and a closing time, and many are in malls. I remember a diner at Bedford Centre years ago who really tried to emulate the diner experience – the decor was all red and rock and roll, complete with jukebox (very 50s), and food was served in plastic baskets. The food was nice, the vibe was nice, but they closed early. So, no satisfying of the hunger after the 10 o’clock show.

Hubby and I found a place, quite by accident (years ago), while aimlessly driving around Braamfontein on a Friday night, hungry as hell. Tucked away at the street level of an office block, fronted with big glass windows, the warm glow from inside invited us in. We walked in and were welcomed by the owner, a big bear of a man – I think it was a Greek restaurant. Or it could’ve been Croatian. Or Italian. I don’t recall exactly. The influence was European bistro-style. There was a row of tables on either side of the narrow space with a corridor down the middle. We had the tastiest meal ever, home cooked by Mamma in the back I am sure. I just know that I haven’t tasted food like that since, truly (outside of my Mom’s kitchen)! We were offered dessert and the cognac was on the house. I half-expected to be offered a cigar. The owner sat with us and we chatted for a long while, I think he found us a bit of a novelty because the rest of the patrons were much older than us, they all knew each other – probably went there every night. Or maybe it was just a front for the mob…:-)

Another wonderful memory, although not of a diner, but of a 24hr food place nonetheless, was Casablanca roadhouse at the bottom end of Hillbrow. I have fond memories of going there after clubbing or a movie, a whole lot of us piled into a skedonk of a car (poor students, more of us than was legal in the car). It was there that I had my first dagwood – the-best-ever-dagwood-in-town, in the world, a sumptuous tower of bread, burger, ham, egg, and other stuff I can’t remember, and a coke! Absolutely delicious, I still remember the taste, enough to make me salivate as I write this.

As I end this post, I am left wondering what a South African version of Triple-D would look like. If the Food Network had to do a South African version of Diners Drive-ins and Dives, where would they go? If you know, share on this site (I haven’t been out much lately)!

I bid you good eatings!

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