Welcome Diner: A Local Love

Photo by Dominic Valente Welcome Diner, a small hub dedicated to unique servings, gives the ordinary cheeseburger a run for its money. Last weekend the diner had so much business that the cooks had to improvise a menu on the spot due to a high demand.
Photo by Dominic Valente

Welcome Diner is not a place for a first date.

You’ll probably spend more time talking to the staff than with anyone else. In fact, it’s almost impossible not to talk with them. Not only is it because of their warm demeanor and witty remarks, but because the stove, bar, dishwasher and front counter are all within about 10 paces of each other.

For all intents and purposes, Welcome Diner is a miniscule restaurant barely larger than its original food truck kitchen. It’s nestled in the corner of 9th Street and Roosevelt Street in Downtown Phoenix, sitting among rundown houses and broken street signs.

But the tiny mom and pop style diner has caliber in terms of its food.

The fried chicken and homemade apple butter sandwich is, by all means, executed famously. Freshness is not an issue with this dish, or for that matter any other dish on the menu, being an establishment that prides itself on local purveyors as well as homemade ingredients.

Fried chicken topped with homemade apple butter and a biscuit bun. Welcome Diner prides itself on the fact that most of their ingredients are purchased by local purveyors in the valley. Photo by Dominic Valente Fried chicken topped with homemade apple butter and a biscuit bun is one of the more mundane options.
Photo by Dominic Valente

The sandwich is almost completely home grown, with biscuits that are made on-site as well as the apple butter. The only part that is not created on site is the actual chicken, which is purchased nearby, a staff member says.

Tangy but not sour, sweet but not sugary, the apple butter is a perfect pair with the fresh biscuit and fried chicken.

While I sit at the bar, Welcome Diner’s chef Babcock mentions to me that a good dish can be made using five ingredients or less.

He couldn’t have been more right.

As sensationally delicious as the apple butter chicken sandwich is, it’s not the most outlandish dish on the menu.

Welcome Diner also features a peanut butter cheeseburger. Yes, go ahead and re-read that sentence over again. It’s still going to say the same thing.

Welcome Diner offers a unique spin on the classic american cheeseburger; Peanut butter infused with organic beef between a bun fried on the griddle. Photo by Dominic Valente Welcome Diner offers a twist on the classic American cheeseburger: peanut butter infused with organic beef between a bun fried on the griddle.
Photo by Dominic Valente

The peanut butter cheeseburger is one of the most popular dishes on the menu. The creation surprises even me; I’m not surprised of its existence, but that it’s actually satisfying me.

After biting into the burger, my preconceived notions about the classic American cheeseburger melt away, much like the bite that is currently in my mouth. The salty and savory, yet creamy and decadent all converged together on the surface on my taste buds.

If you decide to go here for a first date, you will definitely find love. But it won’t be with the person with you.

Between the peanut butter cheeseburger, apple butter fried chicken, the southern style hurricane cocktails and the more than competent staff, there is plenty of things to keep your attention away from your significant other.

And trust me, it’ll be a fruitful affair.


Reach the writer at dvalente@asu.edu or via Twitter @redhotdomiNATO

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