Don’t let the name fool you…
Sean, Aidan and I took a road trip over the weekend to see an old friend and to visit a new place. Welcome Diner recently opened a location in Tucson and we have been dying to go. Since they opened four weeks ago I feel like I have been bombarded with social media posts of incredible looking dishes and rave reviews. We will always travel for good food and especially to support a long-time customer. The Welcome Diner in Phoenix is one of our earliest restaurant customers, going back to the start when Bob was delivering to restaurants himself. Much has changed for both of us since then.
Welcome Diner Tucson is in the renovated Chaffin’s Diner on Broadway, that was originally a pancake house in the 1950’s, a local spot Bob remembers from his youth in Tucson. The new diner still has a mid-century aesthetic, but has an innovative menu that incorporates both the classics along with some incredible modern dishes.
While there are definitely diner mainstays like Grilled Cheese (Aidan’s pick) or a selection of burgers, make no mistake in thinking that this is typical diner fare. First, Aidan’s Grilled Cheese was out of this world. Although I will have take his word for it, since he ate so fast there was nothing to share. But secondly, at what diner have you ever seen a Jackfruit Po-Boy, Tempura Broccolini, or Baja Clams in a Lemongrass Broth?? This diner is a blend of the old and new and they are quickly gaining a following because of it.
We started with the Pulled Pork Fries that came with Carolina BBQ sauce and slaw. A wonderful, tangy combination that could be an entree in of itself. I had the Vegetable Cassoulet, which I am still craving, that was a hearty dish with white tepary beans, pumpkin and topped with a creme friache over a grilled flatbread. It was a perfect fall dish without being too heavy. Sean went with the Pork Posole Rojo, which won him over. We were then delighted with a trio of desserts that were some of the best I have ever had.
All were unique and complex and a beautiful combination of surprising flavors. Any of these desserts could easily sit on the table of any five-star establishment and be a star. The Jackfruit cake with kafir lime powder, tepache gel, prickly pear slush was an instant hit, and was inhaled immediately by Aidan. We then all had to fight for bites of the Pumpkin doughnuts with cinnamon panna cotta, chocolate oil, grapes, and the Brown Butter Lemon Chess pie wth blackberry white sage compote and pistachio brittle. This may be food in a diner, but this is not diner food. What they are doing at Welcome Diner is truly something special and fun. A dear friend Bernd joined us for the evening, an as a Tucson local he is already making plans to return.
If you are in Tucson, Welcome Diner is well worth a stop. And if you are not in Tucson, it will well worth the trip. They are currently open from 5:00pm to 2:00am, but will be opening for breakfast and lunch soon. We are already wanting an excuse to return!
Welcome Diner Tucson
902 East Broadway Blvd.
(P.S. Hi Dr. Lee – sorry I haven’t written about restaurants in awhile. I am trying to change that!)