Wednesday, November 7, 2007

On the Road: Spokane's Diners Pt.1 and 2- Frank's Diner and Pioneer Pies

I lived in Spokane, Washington, for only 6 years. Those were middle school and high school years, though--years that really shape you as person. I graduated from Joel E. Ferris High School in 1997. I've been back periodically over the years, but this trip was for a thing that some people dread: The 10 Year Reunion.

But this this isn't a blog about that. This is not a blog about disappointment and failure. It's about those diners and greasy spoons we so love. During the Spokane leg of my vacation, I was able to hit three full-fledged diners as well as two other places worth mentioning. Without further ado...
Pt. 1 Frank's Diner

If you're from Spokane and you go out to breakfast at least once a month, you have intimate knowledge of Frank's Diner or its crosstown brother, Knights Diner. They were once both real, working railroad cars. This means they are often cramped and have limited seating. Unless you get real lucky, like Jon and I did on our trip there. You can expect a ten to fifteen minute wait, but it is always worth the wait. Unfortunately for Knights Diner, they are closed on Monday's and I didn't get to eat there on this trip; therefore, this is where it will exit the review.
Frank's Diner has been been voted the "Best Breakfast in Spokane" for ten years now. Spokane might have a lot of problems, but knowing where to get its first meal of the day is not one of them.

"Frank's serves 15,000 eggs and 2 1/2 tons of hash browns a meal at a time," boasts a sign in the interior. I know I lack elegance when I say, "That's a hell of a lot."

I ordered the coffee while Jon ordered the hot chocolate. I hate to say the coffee tasted a bit burnt and required actual sugar, not my beloved Splenda or the pink or blue stuff, to make it palatable enough for me to get through a cup. Jon's hot chocolate was something truly special to behold.

Jon said "the chocolate chips added to the bon vivantof the drink."
...Jon is not a writer. I'm barely one, but anyway...

I got into a habit on this trip of ordering things with a person's name in the them. Remember how every place with "Joe" in the name had a "Joe's Special?" Well, there sure are a lot of "Frank's _______" on this menu. So you know what I got? The "Joe's Special:" 3 eggs scrambled, spinach, ground beef with grated Parmesan cheese, served with hash browns and a bread. It sounded delicious with just a little bit of the unusual. I was pleasantly surprised at how well everything went together.

Jon, not being that big on breakfast breakfast, surprised me with a pretty hardcore meal of smothered hash browns and two crispy sausage links. Jon and I both agreed that the hash browns were fantastic. Very unique to me, they were slices of potato, almost like thin cut french fries. They were not greasy at all but definitely had that fried taste you hope for with a good plate of hash browns. Jon did think there was a bit too much gravy. You might want to order it-- not on the side really--just on half the plate and mix it all together yourself.

You can't beat a Frank's breakfast. If you are traveling through town it is a must for any diner lover. If you live in Spokane, eat there at least once or twice a month. Dinerwood commands it!
Food: Delicious
Service: Craig the counter guy was friendly and knowledgeable. Some of the waitresses can get a bit snippy because of the need for quick turnover.
Price: 6-10
Pie: No, pie. Only cobbler.

1516 W. 2nd Ave
Spokane, WA 99204
PART 2. Pioneer Pies
Pioneer Pies is still a mainstay in some parts of the country. Old timey, folksy decor and delicious pies made it a favorite for families and pie lovers everywhere. Or in my case, a mysterious wonderland: my family never went to Pioneer Pies for some reason. Sadly, the Pioneer Pies in Spokane shuttered it's pie-sills and the building became a casino, much like every closed down building around here nowadays. For Spokanites, the legend gets to live on as part of Conley's Place restaurant in the Spokane Valley. Conley's Place is an odd Irish-y restaurant with a lot of lattice work. I don't know what the connection between the two restaurants is but, Conley's Place serves Pioneer Pies' pies. It even has a Pioneer Pies sign on the building. And since the picture of the Conley's Place sign turned out even worse than this, all you get is the Pioneer Pies part of the sign.

Jon, his girlfriend Stephanie, my friend Bill's wife Lynn (Bill will be appearing later in the blog)and I, all went out for dinner. Well, originally it was to go roller skating, but SOMEBODY isn't so good at listening to phone recordings and got the hours of operation of the roller rink wrong. I won't review the food at Conley's because it's not a diner or a greasy spoon. I will however review the delicious piece of pie I had.
Meet the Almond Joy. With Halloween all up on it I have had the pleasure of rediscovering the...dare I say it? The JOY of the Almond Joy candy bar. This pie strives to recreate that candy combo in pie form. Here's the slice; bottom layer of chocolate cream, then a thin layer of slice almonds, then a layer of coconut cream, another layer of almonds, then whipped cream with a few chocolate chips on top. Now, it didn't taste just like he candy bar, which I didn't really expect it to, but it invoked the essence. The tasty, tasty essence.

Food: Tasty
Service: The restaurant was closing early because we were the only diners, but they didn't rush us or even mention it until we were out the door.
Price: Pie 3-4
Pie:...well, yeah.
12618 E Sprague Ave
Spokane, WA
Tel: (509) 924-5411


jon said...

That's right, i draw. Writing is for people who, er, write good.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely LOVE Frank's Diner. The pancakes are to die for, as are the milkshakes. I also love the hash browns and their eggs. I'm from Canada, but visit Spokane often and always eat at Frank's. I consider their food the best breakfast food that I've ever eaten in the US or Canada.

Now, I'm moving to Los Angeles shortly and although I'm really excited, I'm a bit of a foodie. I'm horrified that I might have to go without Frank's for at least six months at a time. So, I'd like to ask you if there's any breakfast restaurant in or around Los Angeles that compares. Mainly the pancakes, and probably not the atmosphere (eating on a train and all). I'd just like to know if I can have a little bit of Frank's in LA.