The charming Swan Street Diner is a restoration of the Sterling Company diner cars originally made by the J.B. Judkins Company.
When the company started to make the cars, they numbered them based on when they were finished from the time they started in 1936 until 1942. The soft yellow and maroon car that has made its home in Larkin Square is number 397.
From the music to the cooks slinging homemade comfort food, once you step inside the diner car you will feel like you’re back in the 1940s. The cute wallpaper displays circles with bacon and eggs, pie, the building, Swan Street mug, and more. The back of the menu lists “diner lingo” like Mike & Ike (salt & pepper) and motor oil (maple syrup).
After just a short wait, we were seated at the corner booth. We started with piping hot coffee and a mimosa made with fresh-squeezed, pulpy orange juice and plenty of bubbly ($5).
As we skimmed the menu full of choices including omelets ($9-$11), breakfast tacos ($8-$10), waffles ($8), pancakes ($9-$12), soups ($4-6), salads ($8-$14), sandwiches ($6-$12) and wraps ($8-$10), we ordered mini-doughnuts, which were a must (3 for $5, 6 for $8, 12 for $10). Classic glazed, cinnamon and powdered sugar are available daily, plus there are flavors of the day like chocolate and coconut when we were there.
We decided on the glazed, cinnamon and chocolate which came out steaming hot, like the ones you get at a cider mill in the fall. The sweet glaze and chocolate melted into a warm, gooey sauce, and the cakey doughnut was light and fluffy.
After enjoying the doughnuts with our coffee, we ordered the portabella-bacon omelet ($11) and the fish sandwich (grilled or fried, $9). The portabella-bacon omelet, one of the most popular options, was loaded with large pieces of salty, crispy bacon and plenty of plump, earthy mushrooms for flavor.
The grilled flounder fillet on the fish sandwich was a juicy and flaky mild white fish that absorbed the flavors from house-made tartar and fresh tomatoes. The roll was thick and doughy, not soggy from the fish. Crunchy, salty kettle chips were served on the side for added texture between bites of the sandwich.
The diner's egg salad wrap ($8) with sweet, crunchy onions and tangy Dijon instead of globs of mayo is on my radar for next time along with burgers ($9-$10) and a salted caramel milkshake ($7).
The diner also serves Southern comfort food like hearty house biscuits and juicy sausage gravy ($12) or extra crisp and tender fried chicken sandwiches topped off with sweet honey mustard mayo ($12).
For endless options and some '40s-style comfort foods, check out the Swan Street Diner the next time you’re near Larkin Square.
Swan Street Diner
700 Swan St. (768-1823)
Hours: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Sunday
Price range: $2-12
Gluten-free options: Yes
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