A reuben sandwich and classic fountain soda from Blue Plate Diner. Photo: Ruby Claire
Blue Plate Diner
2041 S. 2100 E.
Salt Lake City, UT 84108
Open 7 days a week
7 a.m. – 9 p.m.
If you have never heard of The Blue Plate Diner, you need to quickly look around at those people you call “friends” and reassess your relationships. The diner has been winning awards for “Best Breakfast” for almost a decade, been featured on the Food Network show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and shows no signs of slowing down. In addition to the accolades for their breakfast offerings, The Blue Plate should not be overlooked as a lunch or dinner option. Common critiques are about the cramped atmosphere at breakfast, but since breakfast is served all day, you can arrive a little later, relax, enjoy some CCR on the jukebox and take in the ambiance that radiates charm like the neon sign out front.
Having lived in Sugarhouse, it was not uncommon for me to stroll up to Blue Plate on weekend mornings. Typically I would find myself elbow to elbow with hipsters and fighting for a seat, but this isn’t a bad thing as it lends to the experience of Blue Plate. The patrons are as interesting and eclectic as the servers and the smattering of post-cards, vinyl records and artwork that adorns every inch of real estate in the joint. Owners John Bouzek and Tamrika Khvtisiashvili have made the diner accessible to all ages and creeds, especially through their menu, so don’t feel out of place or hesitant to snag a table inside or on their patio. With an easy smile, they will grab you a couple menus, gladly fill your coffee and chat with you about the Honda 125 on the patio.
With a wide array of classic diner staples, I am always thoroughly happy with their Southern Classics, including Biscuits and Gravy (8.99), Country Corncakes (7.99) and Chicken Fried Steak (9.99). They also have a stout selection of dishes displaying Mexican flare. Dishes such as the Chile Verde Con Carne Omelet (8.99), The Mexican Bene (one of their Egg Benedict creations, 8.99), Huevos Rancheros (Lobiani or Verde, 8.99) and their Pork Chili Verde Burrito (9.99) are all safe bets that will find a happy home in your belly. At this point, I do want to make note, as these have all been meat-rich dishes, that The Blue Plate Diner is incredibly proud of and accommodating to its vegetarian and vegan crowd.
For breakfast, I opted for the Huevos Rancheros Verde with a side of Cajun Homies (homefries). The Verde sauce was good and spicy, and not overly salted. With a “healthy” portion of cheese and a layer of black beans and egg, you will be hard pressed to find the bottom of the plate, but it’s the journey that is the fun part. To be honest, I generally find the home fries at Blue Plate a little bland (even though they are sautéed with green peppers and onion) and mushy, so I like to request them to be tossed with their Cajun spice to kick things up and add a little crunch. Out of curiosity, I sampled the vegetarian sausage that came with my buddy’s Veggie Bene (8.99, as are all Blue Plate Benedicts) since he kept telling me to “just try it.” It had all the flavor, texture and depth of the real McCoy, and it leads me to believe that the diner is a “safe place” for us carnivores to try out vegetarian , if one was so inclined. Hell—smother it with their creamy, buttery hollandaise sauce, you won’t care anyway! Regardless of diet, you leave the diner completely stuffed, but still wanting more.
On my next visit, I went with the judgment of my server, and quickly discovered the ladies of Blue Plate have appetites as hardcore as their tattoos. I was directed to the Classic Rueben (9.49). Slow brined and cooked for hours, Blue Plate makes its own corned beef hash, which is the highlight of this sandwich. The thin slices of corned beef are loaded with flavor, and are incredibly tender. Stacked high with the corned beef, the Rueben is layered with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and a shmear of their dressing. When they put it with their toasted rye bread, bringing out that deep nuttiness, all the flavors meld seamlessly into a sandwich that is hard to put down. It’s a good thing I did briefly come up for air, otherwise I would have missed seeing a fountain soda being delivered to another table. Taking the cue, I ordered a Blackberry Fountain Soda (2.49). It arrived as decadent as you could hope for, in an 8” malt glass, with a healthy portion of whipped cream on top, finished with a cherry. It was about that time I saw another server walk by with three Strawberry Milkshakes (3.99), made from Blue Plate’s reclaimed soda fountain built in 1949, which I hope will keep churning out milkshakes and sodas for another 60 years, because I plan on coming back.
One of the best parts about The Blue Plate Diner is that it is providing the next generation the experience of a “mom and pop” restaurant. Another generation will grow up knowing what traditional comfort food is all about, while adding some modern twists. Hopefully we will still be able to walk over to 2100 South and 2100 East, saddle up to the reclaimed Formica bar top with Fitz and the Tantrums playing in the background (or whatever will be considered classic rock in 30 years) and say, “This feels like home.”