Central Phoenix has grown up in recent years as a haven for foodies, so it’s no surprise that it welcomes back the Welcome Diner with a gourmet twist. The “gourmet diner” is a growing trend from London to Phoenix. Think limited menu with high-quality burgers and an intimate atmosphere. But most importantly it’s an affordable dining experience.
The Welcome Diner is steeped in Americana down to its red and white exterior wrapped in neon lights. It was built in 1945 in Kansas and later moved to Williams, Ariz., on the famous Route 66. The nine-stool diner was later brought to Downtown Phoenix’s Historic Garfield District in 1980 but remained vacant until 2004.
It served as a local artist hangout for a few years and the ups and downs of the recession have left it with a bad reputation until recently. But like a Phoenix, the diner has reinvented itself from the ashes with new owners and a fusion of traditional American cuisine and southern eats. Local food truck owners Jennifer Robinson and Michael Babcock have parked their former food truck, Old Dixie’s, to join forces with owner Sloane McFarland to bring the historic diner back to life.
If you venture in to have a bite you’ll find a diner that feels like home. What’s personal is the handful of staff – including the owners – will most likely serve and cook your meal while getting to know you. If the nine bar stools are taken in the 200-square-feet diner, there’s plenty of family-style seating outside including a takeout option.
Babcock and Robinson have reinvigorated the diner with locally-sourced produce from farms at the edge of the city and community gardens as close as four blocks away. Their meats are sourced from Schreiners sausage and a Buckeye, Ariz., butcher the Meat Shop.
If you’re looking for brunch the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes are a must with homemade blackberry preserves and real maple syrup. The diner features decadent southern breakfast items with homemade buttermilk biscuits that Robinson tells The Manual she has learned to perfect through trial and error.
“It’s been a interesting relationship with the biscuits,” Robinson said.
Don’t forget to grab a drink –the diner has two wines available from Arizona wineries. If you like reds try pairing the savory Dos Cabezas Red Blend with a PB&B Burger (Yes, that’s PB as in Peanut Butter and B as in Bacon) or the Creole-inspired New Orleans Red Beans and Rice. Robinson said the New Orleans Red Beans and Rice is a personal favorite because its a rarity.
“I feel like it represents southern Louisiana style cooking. It’s hard to get in the Valley,” said Robinson.
If you like whites they offer an aromatic Page Springs white blend. There is also beer on tap from nearby Tempe-based Four Peaks Brewery. Dinner hours are limited to Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 5 to 10 p.m. Brunch is served Saturdays and Sundays 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
924 E Roosevelt St Phoenix, AZ 85006