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I Like Cafes

Today we have way too many trendy, chic eating establishments which supposedly offer a wide variety of unique/exciting food fare and exotic high class atmosphere. The food is mediocre and overpriced.

Whatever happened to all the old fashioned cafes that used to abound in America? I’ll tell you, what happened! They faded out with all the old fashioned red-necks like me that used to eat there. The American Cafe - home of basic meat and potatoes. Platters, man-sized sandwiches, wholesome veggie sides, pie for dessert, and of course, hot black coffee or cold ice tea to drink. The atmosphere is down-to-earth and the prices are reasonable. Some flies and a few roaches are allowed by definition. God put them in cafes for a reason. The reason being, to chase off yuppies, rich snobs, and other undesirables!

Even though I’m not Catholic, I agree with the Pope’s statement that when Jesus said, "My father’s kingdom has many mansions," he also implied that these mansions are surrounded by greasy spoons, truck stops , and cafes.

There are restaurants that want you to think they are cafes when they are not. How do you tell the real ones from the pretenders? That’s why I’m here. If you are unsure if you and your family are dining at a bonafide cafe, or not, you can use some of my basic tests to decide the matter once and for all. The best and easiest way to know is to treat Dano (that’s me) to a free meal, apple pie and coffee at you chosen diner and I’ll know the answer with 100% guarantee accuracy after the second piece of pie and third cup of coffee. But alas, I can only eat so many meals in a week and I do have to work for a living.

Beware of restaurants with cafe in the name that are obvious fakes. For instance, I drove by an "El Toro Cafe" today. That’s obviously a Mexican food restaurant. Mexican food places are not cafes, but a cafe can serve Mexican food. "I didn’t know that, Dano," you say. Well now you do - that’s what I’m here for.

Then there’s the "Mabel" test. You sit down to eat in what you think is an old fashioned diner or cafe. When your waitress asks for your order - you say, " Is Mabel working today?" She will tell you, "I’m Mabel or Mabel works on Tuesday or Mabel doesn’t work here anymore." If it’s the real thing, 95% of all cafes have a waitress named Mabel or have had one in the past.

Look for cop cars in the parking lot or cops in the restaurant. Especially old, fat, pie eating ones that aren’t college educated. A good sign. A parking lot scan should reveal a healthy number of trucks including one or two 18 wheelers. However, all truck stops are not cafes. Sad to say, many truckers do not know that. Another excellent test is to study the cooks, waitresses, and general help. At least a third of them should have that unmistakable fat, happy, stupid look about them.


A subtle qualifier is the decaffeinated test. If the place serves decaffeinated coffee it’s a bad sign. Not an automatic disqualifier though.

Finally, fried is not a dirty word. The menu should contain many fried food items.

If you are gratefully enlightened on cafes and wish to know more meaningful things see future topics on Dano says...


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