Diner-style, all-you-can-eat pancakes, comfort food, live webcam view
The American diner was fast food before Ray Kroc and his McDonald’s drive-thrus changed the way we ingested our gut bombs. The City Diner survived Ray and his weird clown, Ronald, by following some Shakespearean advice: “To thine own self be true.” From 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. seven days a week, the City Diner at 301 Grand Boulevard in Kansas City, Mo., churns out standard American fare like bacon and eggs, pancakes, biscuits and gravy, cheeseburgers, pork tenderloins and chicken fried steaks. The City Diner has provided the historical River Market area with a greasy spoon of its very own since 1937, when the eatery began as a gas station and diner. For over 75 years of existence, the City Diner has survived the end of the Great Depression, WWII, advent of fast food restaurants, the River Quay project in the 1970s, two recessions, and the River Market’s latest reincarnation as a slightly hip condo-heavy residential area. The neighborhood has changed, but the City Diner has stayed true to the American diner tradition.
The City Diner’s food won’t win any prizes for originality, and the menu doesn’t boast of homemade anything. But that’s what we expect from a diner. We expect chicken fried steaks and greasy, golden-brown hash browns, margarine instead of butter, and a pancake as big and round as a basketball. You don’t come to the City Diner for the best meal of your life. You come for a meal of comfort and nostalgia, to cure a hangover, or to comply with that one-hour lunch limit from work. Unless you’re a cop or a fire fighter, then you’ll stop in because the City Diner only charges you $5 to eat.
The cop presence gives a sense of security to a place run almost solely by women. And if the cops aren’t there, an aluminum Eason baseball bat hangs near the kitchen entrance like a sentry. The bat says, “we’ve been here for 76 years and we’re making 77 no matter what you do.” And when you drive down to the River Market 15 years from now, you can expect the City Diner to be there, three blocks from the Missouri River, with a window view of the oldest working power plant in Kansas City. And you can expect the food to taste exactly the same.
Best Deal: All You Can Eat Pancakes for $4.75 (plus tax) When: Every Tuesday, 6 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. Starts: Now! Ends: Indefinitely!
Fun Fact: The City Diner operates a live cam on its website. I’ve yet to see the cam working, but that doesn’t stop me from checking every day. Can you imagine the people watching opportunities?