There are a number of ways I get tips on restaurants that would be likely candidates for reviews. Frequently, a PR person sends me a news release to let me know a place is opening. Far less often — unfortunately — I’ll get an email or call from an independent restaurant owner. Other times, I’ll get a tip from a friend, or just notice a new spot while I’m driving around the valley.
But my favorite way to find candidates for this space is tips from readers, who have discovered a place that’s really good (or, less often, really bad) and want to spread the news. Which brings me to The Diner, which I never would have found without a reader tip.
The Diner’s location, you see, is pretty much the definition of “tucked away.” It’s in the Las Vegas Motorcoach Resort, a sort of RV/country club kind of place that I hadn’t known existed. And because The Diner itself is further tucked away to the left as you enter the resort, you could probably come and go without noticing it’s there.
The reader who recommended it said he thought it was an awfully attractive kind of place but that, more important, the food was stellar. On point one I heartily concur. The Diner is, as you might expect from the name, a contrived-throwback kind of place, without being overly contrived. Restraint has been employed here; the napkin holders bear a charming resemblance to old Coke machines, there’s a lot of auto-themed ephemera on the walls and the floor is tiled in classic black and white, but otherwise the overall effect is neat as a pin and clean as a whistle, to use a couple of other ’50s cliches.
As for the food? Well, there’s not much new culinary ground broken here, but what is there is really nicely executed.
Although breakfast apparently is a pretty popular time at The Diner, we thought the lunch menu was more promising, so that’s when we dropped in. Besides, I was intrigued by the Killer Club ($9.99), a picture of which was on the menu.
And yes, it lived up to both the photo and the name, which can be taken on a couple of levels. From the bread choices I went with sourdough (rye, wheat, white, nine-grain or a Kaiser roll were other options) and at the server’s suggestion asked that it be toasted. What was served to me was four “quarters” that could pretty much each have been a sandwich in itself. Lots of turkey was layered with ham, bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomato and swiss cheese, and enough pesto mayonnaise that we could taste it throughout the sandwich, which was a definite plus. The sandwich was fantastic but so huge that I ate only half and took the rest back to the office, where it provided lunch for a friend.
Sandwiches at The Diner come with a side, so we chose potato salad with this one, and it turned out to be a pretty decent rendition that definitely didn’t make us instantly think “purveyor.”
The Diner offers a long list of burgers from which we chose the Frisco Burger ($8.99). My friend ordered it medium-well, a polar opposite of my usual medium-rare, but thanks to the grilled onions, tomato, bacon, onion rings, swiss cheese and mayonnaise that had been piled on, it still had plenty of flavor. She chose onion rings for her side, and they were big — which in this case equated to flavorful — and devoid of residual grease.
The Diner doesn’t offer much in the way of starters beyond soup or chili so we opted for the chicken fingers ($7.99) listed under “specialties” with the hot dog and corn dog and kielbasa. What we received weren’t fingers but large, planklike pieces of chicken breast, crisply coated, moist and, again, nearly devoid of grease. We chose blue-cheese dressing on the side, which was pretty basic but filled with lumps of the cheese, which was a plus. The baked beans we had as the side were your basic baked beans.
Service throughout was just fine, our server the momlike type that every diner should employ. She was patient and personable, explaining things as needed, offering beverage refills, takeout boxes and even takeout cups.
Suggesting a place that’s a favorite (or your own) for review can pose a bit of hazard, evoking the old adage, “Be careful what you ask for.” But in this case, the confidence was well warranted.
Las Vegas Review-Journal restaurant reviews are done anonymously at Review-Journal expense. E-mail Heidi Knapp Rinella at Hrinella@reviewjournal.com, or call 702-383-0474. Follow @HKRinella on Twitter.