I have to admit that I was a little sour on Welcome Diner when it first came to town from Phoenix. It took the place of Chaffin’s, a beloved breakfast spot of mine that served inhumane amounts of food for about $8 (their hash browns were the best—crispy, fluffy in the middle, yum!). And then I tasted Welcome Diner’s mac and cheese. Oh, how quickly we forget.
Gooey, creamy, absolute comfort in a bowl. I described the dish so passionately in our Uber on the way home that our driver thought I was talking about pornography. This is not an exaggeration; this is something that actually happened.
And, it’s worth mentioning, it’s comfort in a really beautiful bowl. Welcome Diner got its dishes from HF Coors, the famed dinnerware maker that’s based in Tucson. Is it bad that part of the reason I’m interested in getting married is so that I can put a set or two of their matte white place settings on our registry? Yes, that’s bad.
The HF Coors dishes are just one way Welcome Diner has shown local love in Tucson; another is the use of ingredients from nearby farms, which is fantastic considering that they could have just stuck with those they've been using in relatively close Phoenix. You'll also see Tucson breweries and Whiskey Del Bac on the lengthy drink menu.
But back to the food.
The mac and cheese was just the appetizer. I went for the Bumblebee, a biscuit slathered with ground mustard, holding honey-topped fried chicken and crunchy pickles in a fluffy hug.
Here’s me in action:
Rob chose The U burger, a regular burger with a special sauce that keeps it not so regular, served with a side of thin-cut and crispy fries. *holds microphone up to Rob’s mouth*
“Your opinion, sir?!”
We also shared a side of Brussels sprouts, because it’s important to get your vegetables in after approximately 4,000 calories of cheese. Worth it.
One thing to know about Welcome Diner is that you shouldn't expect typical, greasy spoon diner food. Sure, there's the classic diner feel to this place—midcentury style; baby blue, kitschy booths; a long, communal bar—but it's a modern take on the expected. This place is more focused on invention, with ingredients such as versatile jackfruit and dishes such as the Pima Grits, which come with green chile compote, roasted okra, a sunny egg and optional grilled shrimp that are nice and charred.
I've come twice in less than three weeks, and I'm sure a third visit isn't far away.
Check out Welcome Diner at 902 E. Broadway Blvd. You’ll see the bright neon spires coming off the building first, the red neon Welcome Diner sign next. The menu's here.