Go for the Food: Athens, Ohio
There’s a reason there is almost always a wait at the Court Street Diner here.
The menu is heavy on simple favorites: thick slabs of meatloaf, fries piled so high they tumble off the plates, creamy whipped milkshakes. It’s classic American fare that doesn’t take too much imagination to create or explaining to appreciate.
But it’s done so well, it doesn’t much matter.
The diner, popular with students from nearby Ohio University and local residents alike, isn’t the place for those counting calories. The omelets are made with four eggs, ranch dressing is an option for the burgers, and the grilled cheese sandwich comes as a double-decker, thank you very much.
That’s before the desserts. Three-layer chocolate cake slathered with icing, mint ice cream pie and fudge brownies served hot with ice cream are just a few of the options.
This is not a restaurant acquainted with moderation.
The polished silver diner sits in the middle of an area known as Uptown, where Court Street is made of the same red brick found throughout the university just two blocks away. If there is a wait - and there usually is - plenty of nearby shops can keep visitors busy exploring the quirky college town.
The menu focuses on greasy spoon-style offerings and does not try to reinvent diner favorites or modernize anything. This is not high-brow food or a reinterpretation of what mom made. Ketchup and mustard are on the table in plastic squeeze bottles and the napkins are paper.
While deciding on an entree, order a made-from-scratch cinnamon roll for the table to share. The hulking pastries are served warm and laden with buttercream icing. It doesn’t matter if the sun has set; these breakfast treats are an indulgence worth having any time of day.
Breakfast is served all day, inviting guests to try what the Court Street Diner calls Huevos Locos: a bed of hash browns piled with scrambled eggs, onions, ham, jalapenos, red and green peppers, all of which then is topped with cheddar cheese and salsa. It’s intimidating when it arrives on the table.
A lunch favorite is the patty melt. The beef burger piled high with sauteed onions and melted yellow American cheese is served on grilled marbled rye. It’s a throwback for sure, but one that goes well with the salty fries and pickle spears on the side.
For dinner? Grab the juicy meatloaf, piled atop mashed potatoes, of course. Served in a portion large enough to share, the slab of the diner specialty manages to stay moist without being greasy, and the edges have a nice crunch. Since the meal already has blown your caloric budget, you might as well order a strawberry shake served in its blending tin and topped with whipped cream from a can.