On the last day of 2019, my guest and I took a trip back in time to celebrate the end of the decade. We went all the way back to 1950 with a visit to the Stardust Diner on 164th Avenue in Vancouver and had a great time listening to music of the era and enjoying some really good dinner fare.
The diner has fed thousands of folks over the past 20 years and is one of the best places in town for an inexpensive breakfast, lunch or dinner. Its many diner-type items include: pot pies, roast beef, lasagna, burgers and all-day breakfasts.
It’s small, from the outside anyway, but can accommodate about 100 with countertop, table and booth seating along both sides of a long, narrow restaurant.
We luckily got to sit in a booth equipped with a jukebox. We listened to songs from decades past as we pored over the diner’s colorful, fun menu.
Two things stood out: The prices are amazingly affordable. And the wide variety of items for breakfast, lunch and dinner is impressive.
On the first point, there is nothing on the menu (which includes surf and turf, prime rib, baby back ribs, New York steak, and salmon and shrimp plates) that is over $14.99. Most of the 17 dinner entrees are just under (no kidding) $10, as are the lunch sandwiches, burgers, soups and salad items. The 39 breakfast offerings hover around $8.50.
Appetizers (10 choices) range from $2.99 to $5.99. The tall order of onion rings — crunchy outside, tender inside — that we shared was a mere $4.59 with a ranch dipping sauce.
The Oven Roasted Turkey & Gravy dinner, one of five Blue Plate Specials, consisted of three quarter-inch-thick slices of carved turkey with a nice, thick gravy, cranberry sauce, a baked potato with butter and sour cream (or I could have had mashed), corn, stuffing, a delicious and yeasty roll, and butter. All for — wait for it — $8.49.
My guest went for the Cadillac Meatloaf (three 1 1/2 -inch-thick slices), crowned with a bacon-mushroom gravy, a baked potato, a large serving of creamy coleslaw, and a thick, delicious slice of cornbread, with butter and honey. This feast cost all of $9.79.
We had enough to box leftovers to take home, but we couldn’t pass on the desserts.
A tall chocolate milkshake served with an almost half-again portion in the stainless mixing cup, topped with whipped cream and a cherry was $3.99 (making it into a malt would cost 1 cent more). I enjoyed a Sugar Free Chocolate Mousse, which was absolutely wonderful; no way could anyone tell that sugar had been left out. Neither dessert went home.
As it happened, we were seated in a booth next to some friends from Ridgefield, and I asked Zenia Brinkhurst and her husband and sons why they came all the way here for dinner. “Simple,” she replied, “there are three reasons: delicious food, great service and it’s very affordable.” I couldn’t agree more.
No one will claim the Stardust Diner is a four-star restaurant, but the food is very good, there are a huge number of choices, the place was packed, and you can have Bill Haley, Dean Martin and Elvis perform a private boombox concert while you eat.
But, thank heaven, you don’t have to wear a poodle skirt or saddle shoes.