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Greenville Dinor | Greenville, PA

Greenville Dinor
7 S. Mercer St. (map it!)
Greenville, PA 16125
(724) 588-8820
Open Sun-Wed, 6a-8p; Thurs-Sat, 6a-9p
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? N/N/N
Kid-friendly? Y

Date of Visit: Saturday, December 24, 2011 at 9:00 a.m.

IMPRESSIONS: It’s easy to be mean to small-town diners. I’ll admit, I’ve done it. They’re small, their food is often lowest common denominator, and let’s face it, if  you’re someone who lives in a big city like me, we often smugly enjoy the “quaintness” of small town life. Or we romanticize the feeling that “there aren’t enough of these left in the world!” Despite growing up in a medium-sized city, currently living in a larger one, and often visiting smaller ones, I experience all of these feelings when visiting small-town diners.

Or maybe I’m over-thinking it. Small-town diners are the hub of community and good food, just like any other diner across the country. They mean something to the community, and their charm comes from the rough edges and the little local flair. Okay, I’m over-thinking this. Let’s start again…

On Christmas Eve my brother-in-law and I finally visited a small diner in my wife’s hometown. The Greenville Dinor (yes, it is spelled with an “o” and I don’t know why) has been around for decades, off a side-street in downtown Greenville, just up from their magnificent pre-Depression post office building (see pictures here). We found the entrance to the dinor through a back door off the municipal parking lot.

ATMOSPHERE: The interior is a mix of small diner and dive bar. There’s carpeted floor. Low ceilings. Christmas lights and neon signs. TV sets. A checkered pattern across the counter, with a handful of swiveling stools. At one end of the restaurant is a series of beer coolers.

The main seating is a long row of booths along the front window. On a chilly, slightly snowy Christmas Eve, it was surprisingly cozy.

The front of the menu claims 80 years in business, which is nothing to sneeze at. In addition to breakfast, they serve lunch, dinner, and drinks; the menu brags about sandwiches, burgers, Robbie’s soups, wings, and fish.

FOOD: The one-page breakfast menu has a decent variety of things. I glanced over it too quickly to notice that they actually serve eggs benedict. But they’ve got you covered with omelets, pancakes, French toast, corned beef hash, even chipped beef on toast, which you don’t see that often. The benedict is actually listed under the omelets, which is why I missed it completely.

First order: diner coffee served in those glorious brown mugs. I’m guessing there’s a law somewhere stating that diners must use these mugs for coffee service.

My brother-in-law ordered the eggs benedict, and said he enjoyed it. The egg yolks looked a tad over-done, and the hollandaise a little light, but otherwise it’s a decent version of the dish. Came with some nice crispy hash browns.

I was in more of a combo mood, so I went with pancakes, eggs, and bacon. Easy-to-like pancakes – buttery and browned nicely, they soaked up the syrup. Good scrambled eggs, and the bacon was crispy. I don’t realize this often enough, but I really like bacon that’s crispy, almost to the point of being dry. This bacon hit the spot.

Plus I had more coffee. It was cold and early. Bring it on.

SERVICE: The servers were quick to take our orders and quick to bring it out. Checked in on us frequently. Kept the coffee refills coming. I had that feeling that if I gave them some sass, they’d give it right back.

OVERALL: Between the big city smugness and the small town romanticizing, I’ll land on the side of romanticizing. The Greenville Dinor is a tiny eatery that not many people know about outside of the Shenango Valley in western Pennsylvania, but all the same it has a dedicated clientele who have frequented for decades. I may not rush to visit again the next time we’re in town, but it’s nice to know that it’s there, and that places like this still exist.

OTHER LINKS:

-> listen to Harrod & Funck talk about eating at the Dinor (at the end of the song)

Greenville Diner on Urbanspoon

Paxton’s Family Restaurant | Greenville, PA

Paxton’s Family Restaurant
143 Main St. (map it!)
Greenville, PA 16125
(724) 588-2424
Open 24 hours a day (special bfast menu served 5:30-11 a.m.)
Accepts cash and credit cards

Date of Visit: Saturday, July 24, 2010 at 9:30 a.m.

IMPRESSIONS: My wife said she’s spent many-a high school 3 a.m. at Paxton’s Family Restaurant in downtown Greenville, Pennsylvania. Downtown Greenville is about as quintessentially small town America as you can get, especially the modern small town America: long-standing businesses (Hurlbert’s Hardware, The Hub, News Depot, Majestic’s) interspersed with a few new kids on the block (including the really cool Fresh Grounds Coffeehouse), and a handful of empty spaces put out of business by Walmart.

Paxton’s is one of those holders-on, quietly serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner since 19XX. Not much has changed, from the dusty decorations, the carpeted walls, and the dim lighting. If my pictures appear a little too yellow, blame the lights above our table.

ATMOSPHERE: The carpeted walls hush the sounds of locals in conversation and the kitchen clattering. Paxton’s long, thin space is divided in lengthwise by another wall, so the impression is of several inter-connected rooms stretching back into the building. If you want more light, sit in a booth towards the front of the place, next to the big plate glass windows looking out on Main Street (yes, an actual Main Street, America). If you want more quiet, particularly if you’re visiting in the middle of the night, then huddle in the back at some of the smaller tables.

You can also sit at the counter with the classic swiveling stools…

…and try to sneak a peek in the kitchen. Unlike other diners, you don’t get to sit right across from the kitchen. Bummer on that.


FOOD: “If you’re awake, we’re open,” says the menu. Get your breakfast twenty-four hours a day. (Side note: the punctuation in that sentence makes it a good candidate for The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks.)

The iconic brown diner mug. Typical okay coffee. Caffeinated and forgettable.

We started with Homemade Grilled Cinnamon Buns. The top one featured the maple glaze; the bottom is the white. Both were decent. Interesting that they’re grilled – it gives them crispy edges – but that glaze is a pure sugary punch – make your teeth chatter.

The flattest and widest cinnamon buns I’ve seen. Proudly homemade. Not exceptional, but they went quickly.

I went with the old Two Eggs +: two eggs, potatoes, bacon, toast. With your coffee, it costs a whopping $4.15. If you wanted a simpler breakfast, you can get two eggs, toast, and coffee for $2.25. Bacon was thick and crispy. The potatoes were fresh and chunked, but oh my goodness, please season your potatoes! Also, there were some eyes in them – yikes! Not good. When all else fails, I can always just put my scrambled eggs on my fake-buttered toast. Thank goodness for that. Overall, it was all just okay, but nothing to write a blog about. Oh, wait…

My wife ordered the same, but with eggs over easy. These types of breakfasts are the ones you eat while in conversation. It’s like muzak: it fills the background with some white noise that you can easily ignore. Here, you chow down on breakfast while chatting with everyone. You don’t stop to point out how good such-and-such item is, you just eat it.

We ordered a side of french toast. Again, white noise. Doesn’t taste bad (especially with the soft butter and fake syrup), but you just eat it and move on.

The one “special” menu item that caught my eye was the Deep Fried Mush. I ordered this out of curiosity, but was pretty disappointed that these were basically frozen corn meal/polenta patties you can buy in the store. And it absorbed too much of the cooking oil. More like vegetable oil patties.

And my brother-in-law ordered the Breakfast Hoagie, essentially the eggs, meat, and veggies on a hoagie bun. Don’t know if I’ve seen a breakfast sandwich before. Plenty of burritos, no sandwiches. But he said it was good.

SERVICE: Typical diner service. I almost don’t know what to say. A middle-aged server – not on the surly side, however – but nice, knows here Knowing the how old the restaurant is, I wonder how long the server has been there.

OVERALL: Places like Paxton’s keep going for a reason. They’re familiar, they have longevity, and a dedicated clientele. Returning customers like that will overlook average food, simple service, and even an out-dated location. There’s certainly no reason to make a special trip to visit, but I hope places like Paxton’s never disappear.

OTHER LINKS:

Paxton's Family Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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