Monday, August 8, 2011

The All-American Diner

People often ask, "what food do you miss most?" There's any range of answers to that question depending on my day and mood. While not so much a "food", one of the eating experiences I do miss is going out for breakfast on a Saturday or Sunday morning. The concept of going to a restaurant or diner, sitting down with a newspaper, eating something not entirely healthy, and drinking a bottomless cup of coffee just hasn't taken off in India. Sunday, we found the closest thing.

Part of the issue is that it's just a "later" culture here; people stay up late, get up late, and before you know it the morning is gone. You can imagine our surprise when we were invited out for "brunch" with a co-worker and his wife and were asked if we could meet them at 10am. Nothing starts at 10am in India. (Note, the Sunday brunches in India that we've been known to frequent start at 1pm and consist of foods like sushi, crab legs, and momo's; not exactly bacon and omelets).

That changed on Sunday when we went to The All-American Diner at the India Habitat Centre. For all intents and purposes, they've recreated exactly what the name would imply. Unlike so many restaurants in India that try and serve a little bit of everything and don't really master anything, this diner had a purpose. Omelets and bacon? Yep. Burgers and fries? Yep. Nope. Malts and shakes? Yep. Hot dogs and onion rings? Yep. Murgh malai tikka and pasta? Nope.
Reminded me a little of a Steak and Shake on the inside
I was shocked to find a place that was not only full by 10am but required us to wait at least 30 minutes to get a table. Overall, the food was really good. I went with a "Sante Fe Skillet", which wasn't exactly what you'd get in the US (it was scrambled eggs with green chilis, chicken sausage, and a hash brown); however, I've got to admit it was the best breakfast food I've had in India. Lindsay had some sort of omelet and declared it the best she's had as well. I think she was relieved to not have to order the omelet "well done" (which is usually the case when ordering at a hotel else you end up with an egg dish that's cooked on the outside and still liquid on the inside).
Sante Fe Skillet
In a country known for noise and chaos, the one thing the diner was missing was noise and chaos. There was no pushy waitress trying to turn as many tables as possible to increase her tips. There weren't lurkers hovering for the next open table. There weren't the sounds and smells of an open kitchen behind the stools. Even without that part of the experience, for what it was, The All-American Diner was as good an American restaurant in India as most Chinese restaurants probably are in the US that are trying to bring another cuisine halfway around the world. 


  1. Good to know! The old marketing gal from Manre (Saket malls) left to go to the All-American Diner, but we've yet to try it. We may have to do that now!

  2. During your two weeks back in the states was the food a 'shock' to your system? Think you will have any reverse "Delhi Belly" after returning?

  3. I like to think that whatever my stomach is ready for while here will only make be stronger. I didn't have issues at home in May, but strangely enough had more issues when I came back to Delhi from Ladakh in July. I think on the trek they were hyper-sensitive about hygiene (the guide really, really doesn't want people sick on the trek with anything food-bourne) and coming back to Delhi didn't agree with me.