Monday, January 29, 2007

Dining critic candidate No. 50

Coke’s Diner

There is a time for gourmet. There is a time for nouveau cuisine. There is even a time for spinach. And every once in a while, there most definitely comes a time for diner food. When that time comes, make a bee line for Coke’s Diner in Fountain.

I listened to my neighbor rave about this place for months before we ever actually went. I assumed that diner food was diner food, once you’ve tasted one diner menu, you’ve pretty much tasted them all. I am proud to say that I was wrong. Dead wrong. This diner is not only owned by Jim Coke, a long-time Fountain local who gives a lot to the community he loves, but it is without a doubt the best diner I’ve ever eaten in.

It’s a small place with a small parking lot, in fact there are no lines to mark parking spaces, just follow the lead of the regulars who have figured out how to get as many cars as possible into the small asphalt space on the corner. Once you walk inside you are greeted by relatively typical diner décor of black and white checkered floors, old tin signs and red tables and booths. But look a bit closer and the underlying personality of the place shines through. One table gives a glimpse into the old community’s farming roots with pictures of John Deere tractors under the glass, one a picture of an ingenious hybrid of a Deere tractor and motorcycle. Hand written notes stuck to the walls give a peek into the owner’s sense of humor. But the real personality comes from the people who work and eat there everyday.

When you walk in the door and look around for somewhere to sit, you can’t help but notice the large corner booth with the wooden sign “Liars Table” over it, or the table next to it designated as the “Wannabe’s Table.” These belong to the regulars, and a jolly looking bunch they are at that. There is the sound of laughter and silverware happily clinking on plates as well as the underlying sounds coming from the kitchen. Makes for a warm and welcoming atmosphere that draws you into the enticing smells wafting from griddle behind the counter.

The menu is pretty typical for a diner. Breakfast is eggs, various breakfast meats, biscuits and gravy, chicken fried steak, hash browns, pancakes, omelettes and more. Lunch is sandwiches and burgers. Dinner is meatloaf, pot roast and other favorites. We’ve gone for breakfast and late breakfast. I’ve tried just about everything but the omelettes for breakfast and I can honestly say that if my cardiologist wouldn’t hunt me down and restrain me, I would eat all of it every day for the rest of my life.

The pancakes are huge. One is often just a bit bigger than the plate they serve it on. A friend’s father took a picture using a butter knife as reference to show circumference on this puppy and shows it off with pride to anyone who will look. The pancakes are also the best I’ve ever put in my mouth. They are light and fluffy and perfect with or without syrup. The hash browns are cooked in butter and come out with this amazingly comforting flavor while still crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. And the biscuits and gravy. My goodness. Dreams have been built on biscuits and gravy like this. The biscuits are handmade everyday and are fresh, moist and perfect. The sausage gravy is riddled with large chunks of sausage and has the perfect amount of black pepper spice. The consistency is thick enough to cling to the biscuits and smooth enough to spread evenly so every heavenly mouthful is the perfect combination of gravy and biscuit.

On the day we went for late breakfast, my husband tried the Bacon Cheeseburger off the lunch menu. The bun was lightly toasted, the burger was juicy and the bacon was perfectly done. The real star of the plate though was the French fries. These are real, hand cut, freshly fried taters of the most coveted kind. It was all I could do not to steal the whole lot of them off his plate. They were nicely browned and crispy with just the right amount of salt.

We’ve made a weekly tradition of Sunday morning breakfast at Coke’s Diner. The food, the people and the atmosphere are addicting to say the least and you’re likely to walk out with a smile on your face and the warm glow that only down home, all American diner food can elicit. Oh and did I mention, they do carry-out.

Here are the particulars:

Coke’s Diner

311 N Santa Fe Ave

Fountain, CO



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good review, but it lacks the colorful and humourous qualities some of the other reviews have.

9:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Too Long

8:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Way too long. Don't have a day to read the review. But I've eaten at Coke's and it's awesome! Get the breakfast burrito.

2:54 PM  

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