Guy Fieri is America’s blue-collar answer to fancy culinary institutionalized upscale chefs, and he’s got the "cool guy" bleached tips and backwards sunglasses to prove it. Unlike the last generation’s food television, the most famous show on Food Network isn’t trying to be French; nobody’s looking for the delicate balance between summer herbs or serving up easy healthy five-minute meals or echoing New York Times food reviews. Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, or otherwise tenderly known as the Triple D recaptures the road tripping American spirit of adventure by hitting the sort of places under the radar serving comfort delights that locals are passionate about and by that simple premise, has blossomed into one of the biggest shows on TV. And it’s all because they’re shooting heaping plates of ethnic cuisine, or down home American barbecue, or the kind of delicious concoctions most hungry people have thought of but were too afraid to execute. For a taste of the Triple D, check out these 10 cities and these 30 diners, drive-ins and dives.
Los Angeles is many things to many people, and that extends to its culinary industry. Visitors to Hollywood will find all the upscale French prix-fixe courses in L.A. Live to satisfy them in their LBDs, but a 20-minute drive west on the Santa Monica Freeway will take them to a different Los Angeles, with family run restaurants with backlit marquee signs and portions massive enough to qualify for the Triple D.
Tommy’s Joynt has been owned by the same family since 1947 and they look and taste it. It’s a local corner neighborhood hofbrau (that is, a deli-heavy sandwich cafeteria that also serves cocktails and beer) and its royal blue exterior, elaborate signs and cavernous wood-paneled interior all point to San Francisco’s long and storied history. Pier 23 has coastal San Francisco all wrapped up in its menu, with a fresh and heaping plate of dungeness crab, baked oysters and steamed mussels and clams – basically all of the delectable marine animals that can be caught off the Embarcadero. Paired with a refreshing cocktail and a stunning view, it’s no wonder Guy Fieri couldn’t help but love this ship. More Guy Fieri favorites in sunny San Francisco are Dottie’s True Blue café, Bette’s Oceanview Diner and Rudy’s Can’t Fail Café.
Located in a nondescript strip mall, the unassuming Bagel Deli serves some of the best challah french toast in the country and definitely one of the best brisket knishes – at least, according to Guy Fieri, a guy who is pretty much an expert on the field of beef. The restaurant serves a sample menu of this brisket knish, kishke, which is a sausage stuffed with meat and grain, and matzo ball soup. Down the way, Steuben’s is another family run Denver establishment that was featured on the Triple D. Featuring all-American comfort meals like beef brisket, NY strip steak, puttanesca, lobster rolls (a Guy favorite) and fried cheese, Steuben’s is a local favorite, with a food truck and its brick and mortar location. More Denver restaurants featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives include Tocabe, Sam’s No. 3, and bang!
As Hopper has reported several times before, Miami’s food scene is rocketing into international acclaim. The cherry on the sundae is a visit from Guy Fieri, which it has received in spades. Guy Fieri loves the Whisk and their escalated Southern comfort food, like their pulled pork sliders and shrimp po’ boys. Guy Fieri super loves the Whales Rib Raw bar – for 30 years, the Whales Rib has been shucking and serving ocean-fresh oysters, Rock shrimp, Ipswich clams and other offerings from the sea, but with a twist (tomatoes!). Visitors looking to nurse their sweet tooths and explore an aspect of bygone Americana should scamper over to the legendary Grampa’s Bakery and Restaurant, which serves up custom-made cakes, made-from-scratch pancakes and dinner rolls and the phenomenal Guy Fieri favorite, a tender lamb shank.
If there’s a dive bar which adds a little heavy metal influence into their fully-loaded burgers, Guy Fieri’s found it. And that bar in Chicago is Kuma’s Corner: its themed burgers are named after metal gods like Black Sabbath, a Guy favorite, and Iron Maiden; and the burgers have some edge to ‘em, like the High on Fire Burger, topped with Sriracha, roasted red pepper, prosciutto, grilled pineapple and Mae Ploy sweet chili paste. Their beer list is also unique, supporting local and homegrown breweries over labels like Miller and Budweiser. Visitors to Chicago who want a taste of the local Latino population can grab a poblano sandwich at Cemitas Puebla. Guy loves their cemitas, comprising sesame seed bread with avocado, meat, adobo chipotle peppers, fresh Oaxacan cheese and papalo.
Visitors looking for a decent po’ boy in NOLA can lose their head listening to all the different recommendations. However, luckily, one solid option is the one insisted on by the new king of New Orleans himself, Emeril Lagasse, via the Triple D. Located on famous Magazine St., Mahony’s is the home of the Peacemaker Po’ Boy, a six-incher with fried oysters layered with sliced cheese and bacon. A sweet end to the meal can be found at the Creole Creamery. Fieri loves it because they offer a stunning list of over 400 classic and eccentric flavors, ranging from plain vanilla to Apricot – Grand Marnier.
Johnny Cash, Jackie O, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Al Pacino, Adam Sandler and Katie Couric are all professed fans of Mr. Bartley’s Gourmet Burgers in Harvard Square, but really, who better to get burger recommendations than Guy Fieri? This Harvard Landmark has seemingly perfected the noble burger and they’ve decided that perfection involves funny topical menu names, giant slabs of meat cooked to taste and an endless list of optional toppings. The Guy Fieri burger features Muenster cheese, tomato, lettuce, red onion, Russian dressing and fries.
When in St. Louis, Fieri digs on the massive Monte Cristo Dog at the super-casual and laidback Iron Barley. Their hot dogs are topped with strawberry jam and swiss cheese and cooked over an iron grill to maximize a smoky charred flavor. Paired with a selection from their finely curated list of local lagers and ales, including special cask ales and specialty bottles found nowhere else, the Iron Barley makes for a delicious and unique way to make some local pals. For an even more delicious and authentic way of tasting the Blues Highway, the Highway 61 Roadhouse and Kitchen smokes up Cajun and Creole comfort foods and barbecue. Triple D featured their BBQ Spaghetti for the show, tossed with BBQ sauce and bare pulled pork.
For all of Portland’s reputation as a hipstery quinoa-crazy, vegan-friendly, gluten-free culinary mecca, they sure know how to lay on the kind of down home cooking Guy likes in his belly: the Mt. Rushmore at Byway offers chunks of corned beef with peppers, onions and vegetables cooked with a ton of cheese – and the hyperbolic name is not too far from the size of this heaping plate, either!
What do Guy and Philadelphia have in common? Both love deep fried things with a retro vibe! At least, that’s the impression one gets from the episode where Guy Fieri travels the country looking for the best deep-fried offerings (you know, that one) and unearths the glistening gem of the pork and sweet potato empanadas from Silk City. Located in a neon diner car built in 1952, Silk City serves up old-fashioned American food and drinks in the diner car, adjacent beer garden and cocktail lounge. Elsewhere, Honey’s Sit N Eat serves up the same kind of Americana classics but with their own Jewish twist. Guy mowed down on their twice-cooked brisket (Bubby’s recipe) topped with corn chips and their chicken chili Frito pie.