The great American diner. Few establishments have been more influential in the sculpting of the American culinary culture than these humble and beloved restaurants. But today they seem to be a dying breed. What with the uprising of farm-to-table, locavorism, fusion cuisine, and an emphasis on artisanal products, perhaps the lowly diner has become lost in the shuffle. I’m all for those things, truly, but I’m also convinced that sometimes there’s nothing more comforting and satisfying than traditional diner fare. Sitting down at a “greasy spoon,” being served a messy patty melt and fries or big, plate-sized pancakes with slabs of real butter—there’s something emotionally rewarding about such an experience. It’s the definition of comfort food.
Recently we stopped in for breakfast, a meal wherein a great diner separates itself from the rest. When a place offers breakfast 24-hours a day, you know this meal isn’t some meaningless afterthought, some hapless attempt to wrangle in a few extra customers in the morning hours. They’re not reserving the “show-stopping” dishes for dinner. No, breakfast is really the time to shine for any respectable diner. And shining is something that Starlite does exceptionally well.
We started with the “Big Boy” breakfast special. No surprises on this plate; all the expected breakfast staples make their appearance here. But it’s a substantial amount of food, sure to fill that empty space inside of you, that growling hunger aching for relief. Three eggs, three strips of bacon or sausage patties, hash browns, biscuits and gravy or two pancakes.
We could not pass up the opportunity for some classic diner pancakes. Starlite Diner doesn’t offer any fancy adornments to their pancakes—no nuts, fruit, or chocolate. Simple buttermilk pancakes with real maple syrup, slathered in butter. We chose a short stack—two 10-inch pancakes. They were heavenly. Airy, hot, and buttery. It’s everything you’d ever hope for in a traditional, no-frills pancake.
I’m looking forward to getting back to Starlite for dinner or lunch. They’ve got the diner stand-bys you’d expect from any honest-to-goodness outfit. Burgers, club sandwiches, turkey and swiss, chicken fried steak, or grilled cheese with an assortment of pies for dessert. But no matter what dinner has in store for me, I’m fairly certain I’ve found a breakfast joint I’ll have no problem making regular appearances at.
Starlite Diner is located at 250 E. Military Dr., North Little Rock. (501) 771-2036.
Open Tuesday, Wednesday, & Saturday 6 am to 2 pm. Thursday & Friday 6 am to 8 pm. Sunday 8 am to 3 pm. Closed Monday.