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Guerillas have taken over the Welcome Diner!

April 7, 2011

For the next three months Chef Payton Curry and his Guerilla Gourmet team have moved into the Welcome Diner and are bringing with them cuisine the likes of which are deserving of a four-star establishment.  I guarantee this little place with its rich history has never seen a menu like the one Payton has prepared.  But what is really special is that you can have a meal this upscale, without the fussiness that usually comes with fine dining.  What sounds better than having a fresh diver scallops while sitting a counter sipping a beer and enjoying this little slice of Americana?  (FYI – it is BYOB!)

It’s not fancy, but with food this good, it doesn’t have to be.

The diner itself only seats nine around the counter inside, with a few picnic tables in the yard out front. Although make no mistake, this tiny place is capable of doing a fair business and Payton delivers.  Fans of Payton had the place rocking when they opened last week for First Friday.  And why not?  The atmosphere is friendly and communal, with the shared thread of appreciation for good food.  We went this past Tuesday and had a feast fit for kings.  You have never seen diner food like this.

Complete with foie gras with pear butter and a killer brioche from Essence Bakery…

Diver Scallops braised in lemoncello and served with green garlic and chickpeas…

Burrata, need I say more…

Berkshire pork country pate with King Richard leeks…

This was one of my favorites that Payton whipped up with watermelon radishes, sugar snap peas, dates, goat cheese and a vinaigrette…

And finally, a few diner staples like a chocolate malted and french fries, albeit made with Purple Peruvian Fingerling Potatoes…

Seriously I thought Payton was going to kill us with food.  He and his guerilla gourmets don’t mess around.  It was all amazing.  I was a very happy, very full, customer.

You need to go now while you can.  Payton and crew are only going to be at the Welcome Diner thru the first week in July, and then its over.  They are open Sunday – Tuesday nights from 5:00pm to closing and every First Friday of the month.  On First Fridays he will be serving more diner-worthy fare like grass-fed burgers and grinders.  On Sunday – Tuesday nights the menu is more European countryside, much like the selections we got to try.  Or you can book private parties of 8 on the other nights to have Payton dazzle you with a menu all your own.  He will even do a vegan menu, if you are so inclined.

The Welcome Diner is in an original Valentine Diner, which has a pretty cool history.  In the 1930’s a company out of Wichita called Valentine Manufacturing started building small eight- to twelve-seat diners.  These diners were designed to be small enough that they could be operated by one or two people, while allowing the owner the opportunity to have a self-sustaining business.  The diners came fully outfitted and could fit on the back of a flat-bed truck.  Some came with a drive-up window, depending on the type of diner.  For a small initial investment (think a whooping $50), a diner would be delivered, hooked up, and was then ready to operate.  Valentine developed a system for owners to pay off the diner by installing a small wall safe where a percentage of the daily profits could be deposited.  Once a month a Valentine representative would come around and collect the payment.  If the safe was empty, the diners could be loaded back onto the flat-bed truck and driven away.   The actual Welcome Diner was first located in Los Angeles and later moved to Williams.  It came to Phoenix in the early 80’s.  (Seriously – how cute is this place?)

Another fun fact about the Welcome Diner… it was the first restaurant Bob made deliveries to when he started the farm.

Make a date to go to the Welcome Diner and have Payton and his team show you how they can transform an 80-year-old diner into a clever, creative eatery that gets down to what a restaurant should really be about… damn good food.

Welcome Diner
924 East Roosevelt
Phoenix, AZ 85006

Sunday-Tuesday nights
First Fridays
5pm – closing

April 1st – July 5th

One Comment leave one →
  1. Alisa Feng permalink
    May 13, 2011 4:04 pm

    Happy Anniversary!

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