Dining In and Out: The Diner
One young foodie explores the local restaurant scene, bringing quality cuisine into your kitchen, sans doggie bag.
By Kaylyn Deiter
Nothing brings back a little 1950s nostalgia like a diner’s checkered floors, neon signs, and frothy milkshakes with a cherry on top. Lucky for those craving a hint of days gone by, Sioux Falls’ Phillips Avenue Diner has got you covered, minus the poodle skirt.
Once just a vintage Airstream trailer, this quirky restaurant soon became a local staple serving up all-American classics with a retro vibe. Think waffles for breakfast, and lunch…and dinner. But The Diner doesn’t just stop at waffles (though they certainly could, because they’re to die for), the menu continues with burgers, BLTs, mac and cheese, and chicken (and waffles). Classic shakes, malts, and floats finish the meal with a bang, while no diner would be complete without a piping hot cup of coffee.
“Obviously our food is not healthy,” manager Kelly Keizer said, “But that’s why it tastes so good. I think why people keep coming back is because of our diversity of choices. We serve the classics, but we also offer a lot of different food options, as well.”
Although the food alone would be enough to convince patrons that they’re stepping into a world of drive-ins and leather jackets a la Danny Zuko, the eatery’s interior turns the clock back a few decades with its checkered floor, vintage bar setup and trademark diner lingo – heart attacks on a rack, anyone? (It’s biscuits and gravy, in case you were wondering.)
“We’re not your typical restaurant,” Keizer said. “It’s like family here. The servers joke around with the customers and people know each other by name. We just want our customers to have a great experience.”
It’s that homey atmosphere that keeps patrons coming back time and again to The Diner, a restaurant that feels more like a familiar trip down memory lane than simply a place to grab a burger (though it’s undoubtedly good for both). Here the service comes as sweet as the whipped cream on top of a chocolate malt, and there’s nothing outdated about that.
Three reasons to eat at The Diner:
- Vintage vibe.
- Unlimited breakfast options (trust me, everything’s good here).
- You’ll leave humming Grease’s “You’re the one that I want.”
The Diner closes at 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, it’s Wednesday and you’re needing a little late-night milkshake action. A strawberry cheesecake milkshake, to be exact. Not to worry, we’ve got you covered with this recipe modified from The Stir, and after that first sip, we know you’ll be doing the hand jive.
- 5 large scoops vanilla ice cream
- 1 package sliced strawberries (leave out 4 extras for garnish)
- 4 oz cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 whole graham crackers, crushed
- ½ cup sugar
- Whipped cream (optional)
- Combine ice cream, strawberries, cream cheese, milk, vanilla extract, and sugar in a blender. Pulse until well blended. Add more milk if it’s too thick.
- Pour shake into four glasses.
- Garnish with whole strawberries, graham cracker crumbles and whipped cream. Serve immediately.
This milkshake is cheesecake in a cup, literally. I had a hard time finishing it because it was so rich, but the graham cracker crumbles and homemade whipped cream were definitely worth the effort. Cheesecake lovers, you can thank me later.
Three reasons to enjoy The Diner at home:
- Milkshakes are simple to put together and the perfect evening treat.
- You can watch Grease while you sip (and sing along).
- Seconds are easy to come by.
With our milkshake recipe, you don’t need to travel far to get your fix of 1950s Americana, but if you’re looking for the total retro experience head over to The Diner and order up a Jack Benny with an Atlanta Special. I promise you won’t be disappointed.