IMG_7988

Southwest Diner’s name tells you what it is and what it’s about right up front, baby. A diner with a Southwestern aesthetic (primarily with a New Mexico-flair, as indicated by the rather large map of New Mexico hanging on one wall), this restaurant sits in a brick style building with the standard four sided feel next to what seems to be an abandoned food truck. The diner also touts a long wait time if you are to read any online review of the establishment, though whether by circumstance or luck, our wait was a mere 5-10 minutes. Upon entering, you’ll notice the rather tight quarters with a bar shoved into the back corner allowing people to prop up on stools to eat and drink, loudly conversing with the stranger next to them about the sorry state of a football team the area has had no ties to for nearing on four years now.

Only adding to the pure claustrophobia is the copious amount of décor adorning every wall on the building’s insides. I wouldn’t call any of it tacky or offensive really, it can just overwhelm you by sheer volume. There were things reminiscent of the Southwestern area of the country, images of New Mexico state bird the roadrunner were at home, and the paint palette was hues of red, brown, and orange, giving off the arid, desert feel of the state that rewarded this nation with Smokey Bear so many years ago (note that his name is Smokey Bear, not Smokey the Bear. Mindbender for many, I’m sure). The back wall next to where we sat boasts a mirror so that you can see the queso drip down your face as you eat, though most of it is covered with well-done cartoonish art likely crafted by an artist in the community, if not one that worked or is working at the diner. Speaking of the artistic community, the final wall of note had little paper figures in bags certainly created by a local resident, each of which was a different fictional character with customizable limbs. I noticed Ellen Ripley and John Rambo, among a myriad of others. All of these were next to the aforementioned poster of New Mexico towering over the denizens of Southwest ready to impart detailed information on the location of Santa Ana County to any brazen enough to approach the imposing monolith. We had fun looking for the city of Grants on it since that’s where my mom’s aunt & uncle use to live!

IMG_7985

Perhaps the most stressful part of the entire experience is how cramped everything ended up being. Especially in times such as these, where its perhaps best not to be all that close to any one person at any given time. The time at which we went was around noon on Saturday, and the place was packed. This isn’t even to say that there were a tremendous amount of individuals there, but the location is a bit on the smaller side with a number of communal tables, where you get to sit at the same table as strangers that you don’t know and overhear about how they have countless problems that they take no actual measures to solve themselves. In fact, at one point during our meal one of the servers dropped a large amount of food at a table directly neighboring ours. These things happen, and it isn’t much out of the ordinary, though it does beg the question: How often does this happen in such a tight environment? Regardless, be prepared that if you aren’t a people person that you may be quite literally surrounded by people.

As always, the food is saved for last. Now, we were led to believe that this was a big burger joint, as we found the restaurant itself on a list of the best burgers in the area. However, Southwest Diner is seemingly more of a Mexican restaurant. There are two burgers and one black bean burger on their menu. Since one of the burgers was standard and the other was a specialty, I opted for that item to get a more authentic experience. This was the Green Chile Cheeseburger. The burger came with, as advertised, green chile and cheddar cheese, as well as most anything else one would expect to find on a complete burger. Lettuce, onions, “the works” as any hack writer would probably describe it. Though perhaps my inability to sum up with another descriptor outside of listing every individual ingredient puts me in that same camp. I did, however, add bacon to mine. The sandwich was good I must say, as although I found the meat kind of dry, everything else more than made up for it. This is probably the first burger I’ve had in quite a long time where I left everything that came on it when I ate it (sans tomatoes, as those are perpetually horrible). For a period, I started ordering my burgers plain as I felt it was simpler than just explaining what I didn’t want to have on my meal. I had forgotten how much I liked eating all these different additives with my sandwich, especially onions. And the green chile added a decent amount of mild spice, which I assume is the Southwest kick. Overall, Southwest Diner’s aesthetic and food go beautifully hand in hand, though perhaps getting takeout from the place would be for the best if you don’t want to run the risk of excessive social interaction.

Mom’s thoughts:

I agree with Jacob. The “closeness” of the dining area was a little too close for my liking. But the charm added to the experience and I have to say I didn’t actually mind it too much as I enjoyed my company with my son and we had numerous things including that to discuss.

I chose the same burger as Jacob, minus the bacon. Please bacon lovers – do not send me hate mail, I like bacon just fine… however, I do not understand the love so intense that it must be placed on or in everything! I did not notice the dryness of the meat as Jake did, but that may be because the other toppings added plenty of flavor and lush to the burger. The green chile was delicious and did add just the right amount of flavor and spice, in my opinion.

I was worried about the wait due to all the reviews we read prior to going, but the wait was not long at all and it was a beautiful day. We waited outside at a picnic table and enjoyed the sunshine and conversation. I would like to go back again as I am a huge fan of Southwest food.

Have a lovely day!

IMG_2973

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s