Whipping up delectable dishes that douse the fiery appetites of any appetite resembling that of a grizzly on fire, Black Bear Diner has served as a favorite eating abode of satisfied patrons since 1995. Homestyle eats are paired with top-notch service to provide an enjoyable dining destination that has spawned more than 40 Black Bear Diner locations nationwide. Large portions are offered on mountainous lunch and dinner menus full of tantalizing, smile-inducing flavors. Try the tri-tip dip sandwich with grilled onions, mushrooms, and swiss cheese ($9.49), the slow-cooked pot roast ($9.99), or Bob's big bear burger ($9.99), all of which will give your taste buds something to write home about besides their usual sappy drivel about their girlfriends, your teeth. Additionally, an impressive breakfast menu showcasing items such as the huge Bigfoot chicken-fried steak and eggs ($10.99) is offered all day, ensuring a solid meal for later risers and recovery-dodging egg addicts.
There's nothing small about Lumpy's Diner Express. It's not just that its eight-page menu is stocked with a variety of burgers, hot dogs, and other diner favorites—it's that it features several "Big Appetite" challenges, including one that requires diners to devour a burger that weighs more than 4 pounds and is loaded with at least six different toppings.
Lest its diners think that Lumpy's only features heavy meals, it offers healthy choices such as low-fat bison patties, grilled chicken, and protein shots for the milkshakes. An array of theme nights—such as Car and Bike night Mondays—and Betsy Ross look-alike contests round out Lumpy's all-American vibe.
Founded in 1934 by Jim Van Nort, Jim-Denny's serves up diner classics throughout the morning and afternoon. In the morning, cooks flip loaded omelets and griddle-fry 13-inch "hubcap" pancakes, which Man v. Food host Adam Richman appreciatively described as "UFO-sized" in an episode spotlighting the eatery.
As morning turns to afternoon, the menu shifts to jumbo chili-cheese dogs, tuna melts, and burgers so heavy they can be traded for salt to 18th-century Atlantic traders. Patrons can customize their burgers with toppings such as bacon, avocado, or peanut butter, but they're sumptuous on their own. According to Jim-Denny's owners, 70 years of sizzling meats on their grill has left it with a mellow flavor that infuses the patties with extra oomph.
The fact that The Porch Restaurant and Bar uses cast-iron skillets and mason-jar drinking glasses doesn't mean that it's limited to Southern traditions. Sure, shrimp po'boys and buttermilk-fried chicken might share plate space with a stuffed sweet potato overflowing with sweet corn, but the restaurant sources most of its ingredients—including cage-free organic eggs and rice—from local California producers. What results is a gourmet mix that ranges from Tuscaloosa-style fried-green tomatoes to grilled brie with a balsamic-honey reduction.
The restaurant itself also refuses to conform to expectations. Occupying a building that once housed a Cajun restaurant, the eatery, according to Sacramento Magazine's Kira O'Donnell, has made a "stunning transformation of the former space." The airy dining room's wood floors and floral arrangements give way to views of an open kitchen. And, keeping true to its name and guiding theme, a porch surrounded by white columns gives diners an open-air space where they can savor their Southern dishes and banjo-duel over the last piece of cornbread.
Sandra Dee has been a chef since she was 9, when she first helped her mother and grandmother—both accomplished home cooks—create zesty creole recipes for their Sunday get-togethers. Today, she continues that familial spirit, running the kitchen of her own barbecue restaurant with help from her husband, Jeffrey, their sons and daughters, and one nephew. Within her brick walls, covered on the outside with murals of jazz legends such as Etta James, Sandra Dee slow cooks barbecued beef tri-tips, pork ribs, and other meats, flips barbecued veggie burgers, and deep-fries catfish. These savory plates are complemented by beer, wine, and specialty cocktails, such as the mojito and Old Fashion Manhattan—a mix of bourbon and sweet vermouth that still occasionally wears pantaloons.
Retro memorabilia overlooks the aqua and crimson formica booths of Hubcaps Diner, where the friendly waitstaff hums along to hit tunes from the '50s and '60s as they serve up trays of Dryer’s old-fashioned milkshakes and classic diner eats. Chefs man the breakfast griddle all day long, churning out waffles and gravy-slathered biscuits alongside a plethora of omelet and scramble options made with a choice of eggs, egg whites, or Eggbeaters. The diner also specializes in hearty American comfort food, such as Evergood polish sausages, chicken-fried steak, and albacore-tuna melts, which can be washed down with a steaming slice of pie à la mode or a choice of beer or wine. Rounding out the diner feel, the shop mixes up soda-fountain favorites, fashioning Dryer’s premium ice cream into banana splits, sundaes layered in hot fudge, and foamy root-beer floats you can hide your date's keys in.