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Authentic Diners


janevm
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I'm compiling a list of BC's authentic diners worth visiting and hopefully they serve something in particular that is memorable. I can only think of a few in and around Vancouver and one in Courtenay. Know of any?

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Define authentic...are you talking about the old Railway Car type thing or just any old kind of diner?

and where are the ones you have already found? Details, says she who loves a good diner, I need details! :biggrin:

Don't try to win over the haters. You're not the jackass whisperer."

Scott Stratten

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Helen's on Main and 25th, but I've only ever been in for breakfast. I think they're known for their decor. Then there's Bert's on Main and 13th. There is always a meat special of some kind posted in the window. Never been, but it's always packed.

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Sophie's Cosmic Cafe on 4th (disclosure: she's my Godma).

John's Place in Victoria (disclosure: I used to work there).

Templeton on Granville (never been but my wife loves it).

Modern Burger (is it still out of commission apres fire?).

Andrew Morrison

Food Columnist | The Westender

Editor & Publisher | Scout Magazine

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Yes, please define what you mean by diner. I have an image of diners having counter seating and there is a whole lot of lingo that go with diners - stack a' brown, two eggs looking at me, etc.

And what would the difference be between a greasy spoon and a diner? (No, that isn't a joke).

In terms of old style, The Dutch Bakery in Victoria is kinda like diner. Old, long term waitresses, even older clientele with a few hipsters thrown in for good measure. Waitresses always holding the glass Bunn coffee pot, ready to pour a refill. Bit of lingo going on there. The worst food really, but nonetheless, a classic that draws tourists and locals all year long.

In Vancouver, there are those coffee shops on the outskirts, like at the end of Fraser and Marine Dr. or maybe its Main and Marine, where you can still get a booth and a grill cheese with a slice of pickle. Wish I was going with you for an exploration, right up my alley.

Edited by shelora (log)
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In terms of old style, The Dutch Bakery in Victoria is kinda like diner.

...[sNIP]...

The worst food really, but nonetheless, a classic that draws tourists and locals all year long.

Shelora, say it ain't so. Granted I haven't actually sat down for a meal there since I was about 6, but I do love their meat pies and pastries for take out.

Wait... memories flooding back... they used to give us (kids) those chocolate patties with the rainbow sprinkles on them free after a meal. :biggrin: No wonder I love that place.

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I'd question the inclusion of Moderne Burger in this list. Chrome & Formica do not a diner make. Moderne may be styled after a diner, but IMO unless it serves meatloaf it's off the list.

We have a 50's style diner in North Burnaby on Broadway & Holdom (Parkcrest Plaza) called the Parkcrest Diner. A mix of diner food & Westernized Chinese.

I'll add my vote for Helen's. Still my favorite place for a pre-work breakfast on Saturday.

A.

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my definition of authentic diner means real vinyl and formica, most likely pre 60s or older, and probably easier to find in rural areas. Legendary greasy spoons, mom & pop operations and above all, unpretentious atmosphere...

Does that help?

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I'd question the inclusion of Moderne Burger in this list. Chrome & Formica do not a diner make. Moderne may be styled after a diner, but IMO unless it serves meatloaf it's off the list.

I'd argue that our vision of a diner is just that, a throwback. Can a diner possibly be authentic today if it was built in the last 20 years? I don't think so. Today, a diner is about harkening, not so much for a vision of a specific dining, cultural, or cuisine concept (Arne's meatloaf), but rather for an aesthetic - yes, the formica, the chrome, and the kiss my grits style of service.

Diners are dead, and those we mistake as the "real thing" have been styled as such. Ma and Pop are more savvy than we give them credit for when they open a "diner". They're massaging a nostalgic nerve.

Andrew Morrison

Food Columnist | The Westender

Editor & Publisher | Scout Magazine

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The Elite on Main street in Penticton, opened in the fifties, clean, good service, decent coffee (no fru-fru lattes), hot food hot, cold food cold. New owners didn't change a thing.

plus a personal, local favourite:

The Slocan on Hastings and Slocan, not as old, but all the same attributes as the Elite. Great clubhouse, rueben, or breakfast.

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Doesn't serve metloaf, Daddy-A, and maybe it's just the name that's making it come to mind, but The Sunshine Diner in Kits boasts 50's era memorabilia - Elvis records, Marilyn Monroe statuettes, etc. - red vinyl booths, and breakfast all day. Been run for years by Dmitri. Good eggs.

On MacDonald at Broadway.

Laura Fauman

Vancouver Magazine

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This may be a bit OT, but there was a diner in Victoria that was definitely the real thing. It was called "Ian's Coffee Shop" and was near the Jubilee hospital in an old triangular building.

Ian was a retired Navy Cook and a real character. He had all these signs up all over the place like "Toasted Chicken Salad sandwich with crisp pickle and french fries - Yummy good" and "Banana Cream Pie - mmmmmm" and the like. He was pretty gruff but kind of fun too.

I think it closed about ten years ago - Anyway, it's the kind of place I think of when people say diner. Shelora, do you remember it?

On topic - does The Normandy on South Granville count?

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What is that little house place just off 2nd on Manitoba or Yukon or something? Is it Molly's? I think it qualifies.

The sea was angry that day my friends... like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli.

George Costanza

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What is that little house place just off 2nd on Manitoba or Yukon or something?  Is it Molly's? I think it qualifies.

Manitoba, 1/2 a block south of East 2nd Avenue. I believe it's the The Argo Cafe. Right around the corner from where I used to work and the source of many an office lunch. Very greasy spoon-esque. Bang on the money if that's what you're looking for Jane.

Joie Alvaro Kent

"I like rice. Rice is great if you're hungry and want 2,000 of something." ~ Mitch Hedberg

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There is one in Abbotsford...near the Yale Hotel...can't remember what it's called, but it's on Essendene, right up from A Passage to India. It kind of reminds me of the old Aristocrat at the corner of Granville and Broadway, where we used to hang out when I was in cooking school. There are a few places that might technically qualify here in Chilliwack, but aren't old enough for what you are looking for.

The kind of thing you are talking about abounds in small town BC...Boston Bar, Cache Creek, Vanderhoof, Fraser Lake and for sure Smithers, if the North Star is still there...they all have at least one place like that. Or they did last time I drove through.

Don't try to win over the haters. You're not the jackass whisperer."

Scott Stratten

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A diner is like a fine wine, it gets better with age.

The definition of a diner is one that has grown kitch, you can't build it new, you have to grow it. templeton, tomahawk, helens, berts, sophies. Lastly they have to have something that is special to them only, a special breakfast, a daily special, or something like it

Gerald Tritt,

Co-Owner

Vera's Burger Shack

My Webpage

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You're right, gerald. It's like the oldest running restaurant in Vancouver - this place on Hastings in the downtown east side. Not by surprise, it's a "diner." It's old to the point where it has no washroom. The food as you can imagine, is nothing special; the clientelle is also as what you would expect coming from this area. But could you get an experience like this anywhere else in Vancouver? I think not :raz:

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.

Virginia Woolf

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