Sunday, May 10, 2020

Appendix 2: Apocalypse Diner

No one has ever Yelped about this place and it is almost invisible on the web. Indeed, if it weren't for a few inspection violations (none too serious-looking), I would think we had dreamed the whole thing: a little greek diner with psychological problems and decent food in Virginia Beach.

It was May 21, 2011, according to some the day the Rapture was to happen. We were wandering around Atlantic Avenue looking for some humble fare. My husband and I are not attracted by the usual touristy all-you-can-eat joints and somehow we stumbled into this tiny Greek diner with decor circa 1962 located off a parking lot pertaining to a 1 star motel on Atlantic Avenue. What possessed us?

We were seated by an anxious, eager to please waitress who seemed as self-conscious as we were that there was no one else there. Sometimes a kind of tractor beam keeps you in a place that you would otherwise just walk right out of, like empty restaurants and poorly-attended plays. Maybe we stayed out of pity. Or maybe we stayed because it was 5:30 and, according to the news and the signs on Rapture vans out on the avenue, we were scheduled for the end of the world at 6:00.

We asked for sweet tea and the waitress said they had none. And then almost as quickly she got a determined look on her face and said, "No, I'll FIND you some! Yes, I will!" We were afraid for her, running around town looking for sweet tea this close to the Rapture. But she said she'd get some. Somewhere. She promised.

I ordered a greek vegetable salad, no lettuce, no green peppers, and some tzatziki, The tzatziki was creamy and good, and it came with some lovely hot flatbreads like little fried pancakes. When I finished the bread, another plate was quickly brought without me having to ask. The salad was fantastic, featuring a lot of cubes of the most delicious tomato I have eaten since childhood and some really tasty feta cheese.

My husband received three, thin-cut pork chops, a piping hot side of french fries, and a pile of salad as fresh as mine.

The place was an amazing people-watching experience, kind of like being in the Diner at the End of the Universe. The decor was unconsciously retro. Various local characters starting walking in and out like actors in a play:  a skinny man sang a verse of a song I didn't recognize, laughed at himself, and left. An older woman customer sat sipping a mixed drink at the counter, and when another customer wandered in looking lost, she got up and seated him and gave him a menu because our waitress (the only waitress) happened to be busy. Perhaps she was still hunting around for some other hard-to-find beverages.

We ordered the pie.

I figured this was a place local weirdos went to hide from the tourists.  I was sure it would disappear the second we walked out of it. I think we were overcharged. But at 28 bucks for two we couldn't complain. After all, 6 o'clock passed and we were still alive.

No comments: