Do we still love the classic American diner experience? I’m not so sure. There were lamentations when Du-par’s at Downtown’s Golden Gate closed in February, but the majority of complaints I heard came from folks who had never even eaten there. (There’s still a Du-par’s at the Suncoast, now operated by the hotel-casino, by the way.)
It would seem these big restaurants with big booths that serve food from the ’50s and breakfast for dinner are a dying breed. The people at Metro Diner, a Florida transplant that opened early this year on West Tropicana and is planning a second Las Vegas location on South Rainbow, are hoping that’s not the case. But they’re also hedging their bets by amping up the offerings.
Is it weird to eat at a place built for nostalgia and then order something decidedly un-classic? Maybe, but it’s the right thing to do at Metro, where standard offerings like a Belgian waffle ($7.99) pale in comparison to innovative items like croissant French toast ($9.99), or where meatloaf and mashed potatoes ($12.99) can’t hang with the Pittsburgh Steak Salad ($12.99)—the meat, French fry and blue cheese topped meal featured when Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives visited the Jacksonville location.
You won’t want to hear this, but letting loose your inner Guy Fieri will maximize your Metro Diner experience. Fried chicken and waffles with ridiculously sweet strawberry butter ($15.99) works somehow, as do the layers of eggs, cheese, veggies and potatoes that make up the breakfast pie ($9.99). A solid chicken salad sandwich on white bread might feel Midwesterny, but not as much as the monstrous Big Bern’s Pork Tenderloin sandwich ($12.49), deep-fried and stacked with processed St. Louis-style Provel cheese, sautéed spinach, bacon, caramelized onions, tomato and fried jalapeños. It’s tasty if excessive, yet far from the most guilt-inducing item available. That would be J.C.’s Vortex Burger ($13.49), a patty piled with pickle slaw between two bacon-tomato grilled cheese sandwiches. Innocently, the Metro menu reads “Add a fried egg, $1.” Sure. This is still America, damn it.
Metro Diner 9595 W. Tropicana Ave., 702-505-9810. Sunday-Thursday, 7 a.m.-8 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 7 a.m.-9 p.m.