New in the Highlands: America. The Diner.

It used to be sushi or a shoe store or something. I guess it used to be a lot of things, but most recently it was delicious breakfast. While it’s a bit of a bummer that we no longer have Eggs Over Baxter in the spot on Baxter Ave between Chase Bank and O’Shea’s Irish Pub, we can rest knowing that the Crescent Hill location, Eggs Over Frankfort, is still alive and kicking out some fantastic breakfast. Now, a somewhat long anticipated, and media favorited restaurant has transformed the space quickly, and moved in. By the way, they also offer breakfast.

Local restaurant owners and brothers, Kyle and Dustin Staggers, have wanted to open “America. The Diner.” since the beginning of 2015. Originally these guys checked into a Cherokee Rd location that turned slightly controversial, which ultimately ended up being shot down by the Cherokee Triangle Association. All of the rigamarole actually ended up working as a blessing in disguise, though. If I were to open a restaurant and I had a choice between a location on Cherokee Rd next door to The Hammer’s law office, and a storefront location directly on Baxter Ave, the latter wins all day.


IMG_3288You won’t recognize the place if you were ever in there prior to now. You’ll find an exposed brick wall lined with booths on the left as you walk in. Banquets adorn the right side wall, which bears a huge American flag painted on it. There are tables down the center of the room and a wooden bar in the back. You’ll likely be surprised by the number of seats in there. Parking shouldn’t be a problem as there are parking spots in the back, and during most of the day there is parking on the street.


My typical rule with new restaurants is to wait at least a week, maybe even two weeks before trying it out. I worked in restaurants for about 12 years, and it’s understandable and undeniable that there will always be growing pains during the opening phase of a new restaurant. For America. The Diner. I decided to go check it out on the second day they were open with my buddy, Cruzer, who is also a long time restaurant veteran. We started off with the Poutine. While we chuckled a bit at the fact that the first item on the appetizer menu of “America. The Diner.” is actually a Canadian favorite, we were pumped that it was on the menu since there aren’t many places in town to get this dish. The Poutine came out in a classic red basket with a red and white checked wax paper liner. You could see the pepper in the brown gravy that topped these well cooked crinkle fries, but we couldn’t see the cheese curds. No big deal, we mentioned it to the server and he went back to the kitchen to make it right. Remember… growing pains. That first bite was a total surprise. Holy flavors, batman. The gravy was perfect, and I do mean perfect. The flavor and the amount of salt was on point. The cheese curds added a nice crunch to the dish, and really tied everything together. This Poutine is delicious!


The Bluegrass HD
The Bluegrass HD

Deciding on what to order as your main course at America. The Diner. could take you a while. The menu is huge, and as I said earlier, it includes breakfast. If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to read the entire menu before you figure it out. When I was finally able to narrow down my choices, I landed on a hot dog. Not just any hot dog, but one of a long line of serious hot dogs on the menu. Mine was called The Bluegrass HD. It starts with pimento cheese spread on the bun, a massive split hot dog, a healthy portion of Benton’s country ham, some amazing caramelized onions, and a wickedly flavorful chipotle tomato jam. Tater tots on the side, and a cold craft beer completed this meal. The hot dog, the ham, the pimento cheese, all of it worked really well together, and it was super hot and fresh. This meal was fat. It was a lot. But it was delicious. I would order this one again in a minute, but I want to try every other dog on this menu first. It was difficult enough for me to decide not to get a burger or a sandwich or a pork chop. Another day I guess. The variety and creativity in this menu jumps off the pages and lands in your lap. Be prepared.


IMG_3295Cruzer got the hot dog with Benton’s bacon and mac and cheese on it. I tasted a bite and it was fantastic. Creamy mac and cheese on that crisp hot dog made for a tasty treat. It didn’t even need the aioli that came on it because of how creamy that mac and cheese is. Yum.

IMG_3299Some friends of ours walked in while we were eating and ordered the Fried Green Tomato appetizer. The dish came out of the kitchen looking fantastic, and our friends said it tasted that way as well.

While there were some standard issues with service, the computer system, and the availability of beers listed on the menu, these things are simple fixes that have already been worked out. The quality, and flavor of the food was unique and down right awesome, and that is what you will return for time and time again.

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