Dining out: Blue Plate Diner

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 13 2015 4:24 a.m. MDT

Cross a traditional mom-and-pop corner cafe with a new-age commune and you get Blue Plate Diner.
At this amiable, excellent restaurant you can get breakfast all day and a very nice hot turkey sandwich on white bread. You also can get a vegan tofu breakfast burrito and '60s favorites pumping out of the jukebox, along with "Let's Dance" by David Bowie and Johnny Cash's sepulchral rendition of "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face."
The wonder of it all is how well the whole place works, given the diverse roots from which it springs. Blue Plate Diner is a friendly spot to have a meal, with homemade food, attentive service and the kind of atmosphere that encourages you to smile at, and maybe chat with, the folks at the next table.
On a stormy night, like the evening when we had dinner at the Blue Plate Diner, the cafe's neon sign beckons like the beam of a lighthouse. We were cold and a little wet when we came in, and we wanted comfort food. That's what we got, and lots of it.
We started with the excellent batter-dipped onion rings — crispy, thick and sweet with plenty of fry sauce — and the fried mozzarella with marinara for dipping. The mozzarella was fine, but the marinara was something more: chunky with tomatoes, carrots and onions, it was so good I almost ate it with a spoon.
Similar ingredients went into my next course, the veggie chili. Purists who think chili is nothing but chili meat and sauce would call this a Southwestern vegetable soup, but I just call it tasty: thick, tangy, just-spicy-enough broth with garbanzo, kidney and pinto beans, as well as peppers, onions and tomatoes.
My husband had the meatloaf — two moist, beefy, smooth-textured slices with a just-crusty baked exterior — and chunky mashed potatoes, crisp-tender broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, carrots and parsnips on the side.
Comfort food, indeed.
I had my favorite comfort food of all, the hot turkey sandwich. I'm a purist in this matter: the hot turkey sandwich should consist of high-quality turkey sliced from an actual bird, layered over slices of white bread and smothered in good poultry gravy. That's what you'll find at Blue Plate Diner, with sides identical to my husband's.
The kids had macaroni and cheese with golden sauce ladled over penne, as well as the pancake breakfast, a single plate-size pancake with two seared-brown link sausages and the best golden-brown home fries I've had in forever.
For dessert, we brought home slices of crumb-and-caramel-topped apple pie and super-rich three-layer chocolate cake. Their sweetness lingered on our lips.
But what really lasts after a visit to Blue Plate Diner are all the things that make it so good: a steak knife with the turkey sandwich, pesto-topped garlic bread, butter served under the toast so it gets nice and soft — a waitress who saw me struggling with eating my sandwich while holding a wiggly 1-year-old and offered to hold him for a few minutes.
Appetizers $4.45-$5.95, salads $5.95-$9.50, burgers and sandwiches $5.50-$8.45, entrees $6.95-$10.95, kids' meals $1.75-$3.95.

Rating: *** 1/2
Where: 2041 S. 2100 East
Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 7 a.m.-9 p.m.
Friday-Saturday, 7 a.m.-10 p.m.
Payment: Checks, major credit cards accepted
Phone: 463-1151
Wheelchair access: Small space and close tables, but accessible

Stacey Kratz is a freelance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret Morning News. E-mail: skratz@desnews.com

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