Black Bear Diner is a chain restaurant that manages to feel like a local place.
It could be the menu, which is printed on a mock newspaper with stories from 1976, the year the restaurant's first location opened in Mt. Shasta, Calif. After browsing the menu, guests can read about a Sandy soccer team from back in the day, local beauty queens or "Satellites predicted for CB radio."
It could be the service, which is efficient and unaffected. Or it could be the food, the down-home type you can find at your favorite local diner.
Though it was a regular weeknight when my friend, Kristin, and I had dinner at Black Bear Diner, the place was hopping. Our server, very enthusiastic, made recommendations and explained the menu when we had questions.
We had an initial paralysis of indecision due to the enormous number of choices on the menu: tons of breakfast, plus burgers, steaks, comfort food, specialty salads and more.
Eventually, though, Kristin decided on the barbecue chicken salad, an unusual and highly tasty — and, like everything else at Black Bear, huge — bowl of greens topped with chunks of chicken, tomato, avocado, olives, several kinds of cheese and delicious fried "onion straws," plus a drizzle of barbecue sauce. Lots of good and varied eating in that dish!
I dithered over the breakfasts, usually my go-to choice in this type of place, but my eye was caught and held by the hot turkey sandwich. After some stern questioning of the server with regard to meat quality — is it actual turkey or slices from one of those revolting pressed loaves? — I ordered it.
Though the meat was real enough, it was sliced a little thinner than I usually like; nice big chunks right off the bird are best on this sandwich, I think. However, it had a savory, slightly smoky flavor and was dressed with a nice poultry gravy, with substantial skin-on mashed potatoes and corn. One weird thing: I was given the choice of brown gravy, the kind you'd see on beef, or country. Why not more poultry gravy? The plate looked a little weird with two types of gravy on it.
For dessert, I tried the chocolate cream pie, a little individual pie in its own tin topped with scads of cream. Though the firm-textured filling had plenty of nice chocolate flavor, the crust was weird, almost stretchy and very chewy rather than the flaky crust you want in good pie. I wasn't too fond of it; however, my kids enjoyed it when I took the remainder home.
Breakfast $4.99-$10.49, sandwiches and burgers $5.99-$9.29, salads $8.49, dinners and combinations $7.99-$14.99.
Black Bear Diner
Where: 1966 E. 9400 South, Sandy
Hours: Daily 7 a.m.-10 p.m.
Wheelchair access: Accessible
Also: Breakfast served all day
Stacey Kratz is a freelance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret News. Email: email@example.com