Last year, a few months after I started this blog, our son recommended we compare four diners along Union Boulevard, east of Airport Road. Some call the area “diner row.” In January 2009 we visited his first recommendation, the Golden Gate Diner at 1318 Union Boulevard. In June we ate breakfast at the Top Diner at 1019 and, in mid-August, we ate at Izzy’s Family Restaurant, at 920. Somehow it seemed fitting to end the year at the newest of the four, the Union Diner & Family Restaurant, located at 2302 Union Boulevard.
The Union Diner opened about two years ago. I read that the building had previously operated as a Pizza Hut; the signature windows are still intact. The interior, however, was fully remodeled with new tiled floors and booths. On this snowy morn, the diner was nearly empty. My son and I were offered our choice of seating. We chose a booth along the front wall.
A smiling waitress brought menus that included a large list of the usual diner breakfast options. She soon returned with our coffee and tall glasses of iced water with straws. We placed our orders for one of the breakfast specials – eggs, homefries, bacon. One advantage of eating out on a weekday, other than choice of seating, is the prices on the specials.
We sipped steaming hot coffee, chatted, and looked around. The dining room, still with that new feel, appeared sparse, almost barren; only a few red ribbons still celebrated the holiday. A sign above the dessert case near the front announced “Under New Management.” After only two years? As I mulled it over, through the west window I saw two men across the street pushing snowblowers. They seemed in rhythm as they came together then parted along their separate paths.
Our food was delivered promptly and with another smile. I was disappointed to learn there was no strawberry jam for my toast. The cordial waitress said they only offer grape and mixed fruit jellies. Both my son and I found the scrambled eggs to be the tastiest part of the meal, moist and fresh. The home fries were golden crisp and not too greasy. Bacon was tasty. The coffee wasn’t quite as strong as I like it, but our watchful server kept our cups filled.
The total cost of the meal was just under $7 (plus tip) for the two of us. A real bargain for two orders of scrambled eggs (2), homefries, 3 slices of bacon, whole wheat toast and coffee. As mentioned, an advantage of eating out on a weekday morning. I have to wonder if an added 50 cents would have provided the strawberry jam most diners offer. No matter.
I’m told there will soon be new menus and a new name for the Union Diner. Members of the same family that now own the increasingly popular West Side Diner at 19th and Tilghman will rename this one the East Side Diner. It will be interesting to see what other changes might be in store.
At the start, I mentioned the four diners along Union Boulevard. All four diners served good, tasty breakfasts. Service at all was great, with the Golden Gate and the Top Diner leading the way for friendly, attentive service. Izzy’s and the Golden Gate carried the day for the strongest, old time diner charm and atmosphere. Izzy’s coffee was tops, strong and robust, with coffee at the Golden Gate a close second. My opinions only. Please comment with your thoughts.
Wishing you all a happy and prosperous 2010!