Southwest Diner is the first spot you’ll come across along the drive, and while it’s mired in ongoing Nevada Highway construction (and its exterior is overwhelmingly kitschy), you shouldn’t pass it by. The garish memorabilia motif continues inside, but the food should help you forget about that.
Specifically, I suggest checking out some of Southwest’s more unique menu items, like the Santa Fe potato pancakes. Your mother’s latkes these are not. More crab cake in composition—and eerily green due to the infusion of a jalapeño/cilantro/green pepper combination—the pancakes have just the right amount of kick. Even better: the housemade cinnamon-charged applesauce served alongside.
- The Coffee Cup
- 512 Nevada Way, 294-0517.
- Daily, 6 a.m.–2 p.m.
- Mel's Diner
- 558 Nevada Highway, 293-1508.
- Daily, 7 a.m.-3 p.m.
- Southwest Diner
- 761 Nevada Highway, 293-1537.
- Daily, 6 a.m.-8 p.m. (9 p.m. Friday & Saturday).
Not to be outdone, Mel’s Diner—less than half a mile down Nevada Highway—has a fine hangover cure of its own: the Haystack. How do biscuits, hash browns, eggs and sausage smothered in gravy sound as a remedy?
Mel’s is a prototypical diner with counter seating and checkerboard tablecloths; its wood paneling reminds me of my mother’s dining room. Mel’s serves all the standard diner fare and is a good option even when the nearby Coffee Cup isn’t overflowing.
Highlighted in a 2007 episode of Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, the Coffee Cup seems to get the lion’s share of Boulder City’s diner traffic. The room and exterior are adorned with nautical flotsam, and not the pirate kind—we’re talking surfboards and water skis.
As for food, all you really need to know is that this joint serves peanut butter and bacon waffles. Coffee Cup’s menu asks you to “add some flavor” to its basic waffle, so I felt obliged to do so, in the form of, I’ll write it again, peanut butter and bacon. And if waffles aren’t your thing, stop in for the pork chile verde Fieri liked so much or the robust sausage gravy.
Truthfully, any of Boulder City’s three diners would be a hit in Las Vegas, though they feel more at home in their anachronistic setting. Test ’em out for yourself, and remember, Barbie showed you the way.