Greg Barila

Journalist. Editor. Social Media specialist.

Why Adelaide should embrace the good old American diner

This is what I’m talkin’ about. The California Club sandwich with pickle and coleslaw at Scotty's Diner on Lexington Ave, New York. Photo by Peter Holmes. Source: Supplied

I miss a lot of things about living in the US. Most of them are food-based and at least five of them, specifically, are sandwiches.
The last thing I’d want to do is imply it’s not possible to get decent sandwich in Australia. But saying Australians make sandwiches is like saying we make feature films and reality TV and participate in wars. We do. Just nowhere near as well as the Yanks.
In the US, a sandwich isn’t a square stop-gap between breakfast and dinner. And it isn’t designed for mobile consumption. It’s a party on a plate and everyone’s invited; oh look, a stack of fries, side of coleslaw and big salty pickle!
TELL US BELOW: What do you think a sandwich should look like?
I used to get one of my favourite New York sandwiches (chicken salad with sweet potato fries) from another great American institution I miss - the diner.
The Evergreen Diner, just down the street from News Corp. HQ and NBC, is frequented by every reporter in a 5km radius.
A good diner is every bit as romantic an image as any one you’ve ever seen depicted on American television, from Happy Days and Seinfeld to Twin Peaks and NYPD Blue.
The long counters, the pots of coffee, the dessert case advertising slices of cherry pie, the bus boys lugging crates of dirty plates, the always-rushed-off-their-feet waitresses with their notepads and secret code.
Forget efficient transport, grand sporting stadiums, hip coffee joints and fancy restaurants. The mark of a truly great city is the ability to order bacon and eggs at 11am and a serve of lasagne at 7am – and on this score, Adelaide is sadly lacking.
A few weeks ago, after working a long shift, powered by bad coffee and two slices of pizza, I went hunting for food and a taxi.
I ran the gauntlet of tiny skirts and stumbling drunks but couldn’t find a cracker.
Not a waffle on Waymouth St, not a kebab on King William or a curry on Currie. At 11pm on a Saturday night.
Thank god Adelaide’s famous pie carts are still around. Oh, wait…
The pie carts went away and drunk people everywhere have been sad ever since. Photo: The Advertiser.

Yes, I could have walked to Gouger or Hindley, the only two streets in Adelaide to keep anything like unordinary hours. But I was tired. I went home and ate noodles.
Adelaide is over-serviced by fast-food joints and posh, expensive eateries. But where are all the Greasy Spoons? The late-night joints serving up bacon sandwiches, coffee and pancakes, without the frills and for cheap prices?
I think Adelaide has an appetite for a place like that.
This column was first published in The City Adelaide and on