Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives

foodnetworkThe TV Show:  My eighty-nine-year-old mother has become addicted to the Food Network. She had been telling me about this show where “the guy is so lively and fun.” So on a recent visit I had to check it out. The “guy” she is so crazy about is Guy Fieri of Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives. I watched the shows (over and over) and I like them too.

The  idea for the show is very simple. Guy travels around the U.S. visiting independent, usually Mom and Pop style restaurants. Like the title of the show, they are usually diners or drive-ins and sometimes dives. As Guy puts it, “Places where Rock and Roll Bands eat.” Guy (and the camera) are everywhere in the restaurant, checking out how the special dishes are made, talking to customers as they eat and, he is always tasting.

Guy has a unique take on food and restaurants. He doesn’t talk like your usual TV-perfect-English type of host. He talks like a normal person, uses slang and great facial expressions. He also has the nicest way with people. He respects them and you can tell he respects good food. Best of all, I like the way he gets right into the kitchen and sticks his face into the kettles, tastes what’s cooking, wants to know how the restaurant got started.

dinersThe Book: As is my habit with most things I’m excited about, I want the book and yes, of course, Guy Fieri has one or two. The book is based on the places he visited on the show.  It’s divided into section of the country – Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, South, Mid-West and West and Southwest. There is a total of sixty restaurants visited.

For each restaurant there are pictures, a little about how the place got started and what their specialties are. AND, there are recipes. Each restaurant shared a home-sized recipe of one of their dishes. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Mike’s Maine Crab Cakes from A1 Diner in Gardiner, Maine
  • Pork and Sweet Potato Empanadas from The Dining Car in Philadelphia, PA
  • World Famous Chow Chow (very much like my husband’s grandmother’s) from Harold’s in Gaffney, South Carolina
  • Chorizo Garbage Plate from Frank’s Diner in Kenosha, Wisconsin (my birthplace)
  • Trucker Special Sandwich with Tri Tip from Emma Jean’s Holland Burger Cafe in Victorville, California

The Restaurant: After I got back to my son’s place, I was telling Christopher and Genevieve about Guy Fieri. They interrupted me and said, “Oh, that’s the guy that owns Johnny Garlic’s.” What? Guy Fieri has a restaurant right here in Windsor, California! Well, I have to check this out. I persuaded my husband to visit.

The place is in the middle of a shopping center across from a Carl Junior’s. Very unassuming as you can see from the picture. The first thing you see when you walk in the door is a good sized open bar area with all sorts of drinks and a big TV. Just past that is the restaurant seating area with about twenty tables. There are real napkins on the table and a very friendly, cheerful waitress.


After our waitress took our drink orders, she brought us squares of onion foccacio bread with special seasonings on top and little dishes of olive oil to dip in. The menu offered specialties, pastas, pizzas, soups and salads and Humter’s Special (varies daily from venison, buffalo, elk or crocodile). My husband had grilled chicken (moist and tender), garlic and rosemary mashed potatoes and mixed green vegetables (green beans, zucchini, asparagus).

I had caesar salad and garlic soup. Both of those dishes were perfect. I love garlic anyway but the soup was not overpoweringly garlic. It was thick and creamy, a pale gold color and nice little croutons. The salad dressing was made fresh and the best ever. Tangy and just a little tart. All of this served on square and rectangular white dishes. Very, very nice.

I had my camera in my purse and wanted to take a picture of it all but I was too embarrassed. It seemed too much like what a fan club person would do. However, I am a fan. We are taking the book with us on the road and will try to check out some of these diners, drive-ins and dives.

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11 Responses to Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives

  1. Kathy says:

    Oh what fun! My hubby loves the Food Network too. By the way, my dad is 89, just like your mom.

  2. I take pictures at memorable food places we go (well, okay, we have many pictures of Dairy Queens!) and it *is* a bit embarrassing even though I’m sure no one really cares! I also have a series of pictures at my husband filling the gas tank at various places on our car trips. (This was so you could see the gas prices looming behind him and how they changed at each place.) And I take pictures of him in bookstores of course! I have a great one in a Borders in which he is sitting in the chair asleep! (Talk about embarrassing!) But what fun that you have one of that guy’s restaurants right there in your home town!

  3. Molly says:

    I like Guy’s Food Network show as well! The food showcased is just good down-home country fare and the man is obviously passionate about his job. I just wonder how on earth he keeps from weighing 500 pounds with all the high caloric food he eats.

  4. raneikre says:

    as I live in Scandinavia, I cannot get the same TV shows as you do, but I generally like to watch food/cuisine-programs. Can get a Martha Stewart show on some European station, used to be a fan, but now I prefer cooks like Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson e.g. (do you know them?) and some of the multiple scandinavian shows, that you would not know? Food programs is quite a fashion here.Hope to find a Guy Fieri-show one day too!

  5. Cerrin says:

    lol check to see if there are any this way. I would love to try a few out. it sounds like fun.
    One of my favorite memories of traveling was eatting in colorado. You picked the resturant because it looked like they had a lot of people (locals) going in it…and it was mexican food…lol I will never forget the fact that the resturant was almost empty…and people kept going back to the private back room. lol The stories we came up with about that resturant I will never forget. Those were great times.

  6. Sherrie says:

    Hi Margot,
    My son is a big fan of The Food Network. I have seen a few of these programs. I got my Paula Dean’s Kitchen Classics book for Christmas last year. He’s a big fan of her’s. Thanks for the review. How awesome you are close enough to actually go to one of his restaurants! Have a great day!!


  7. Jenners says:

    What a lot of bases you covered in this post — TV Show, Book Review, Restaurant Review. How neat that you got to eat at his restaurant. He actually got the job when he was “discovered” during the Food Network’s “Next Food Network Star,” which I watched with my husband. Guy was the only one in all the versions of the show who really stood out as a good personality and cook. It has been fun to see all his success. : )

  8. stacybuckeye says:

    How fun that you were able to visit his restaurant! At least you got a picture from the outside 🙂 I’ve never seen the show, but I’m more of a HGTV gal than a Food Network one. I’m pretty sure my hubby would prefer the Food Network!

  9. Bumbles says:

    I love Guy! That show is great because, let’s face it, who doesn’t love greasy diner food?! We wonder how he doesn’t have a heart attack right there on camera. What a great job. And how lucky that you could reap the benefits of all his hard work!!!

  10. Cathy DuPont says:

    Hi Margo! I was in Kenosha yesterday! My sister lives there. I have been to Frank’s once at 5 am on their way to the Root River to fish for salmon. I had their sausage garbage plate. Will try the chorizo next time. I gave them DVDs of the Diners show. They were so appreciative, in that they wanted to show their customers the DVD, and had no way of taping it. They are as nice and cool as they seem on the show, and so are their staff and their customers. Have you been to their web site? Nice pics.

    Hey, do you remember Tenutas? How about Milaegars in Racine? I went there yesterday, also. I like Kenosha, and the lake. Do you ever get back out this way?


  11. Nan says:

    He steered us toward a diner in the state I’d never heard of. I had the best egg sal sand anywhere! And the fries were great, too.

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