Friday, November 9, 2012

Alice Doesn’t Live Here…

oops, I mean work here, anymore.

Boy, do I have my cultural references mixed here. Alice Doesn’t Live Here was a movie starring Ellen Burstyn about a recently widowed woman on the road with her precocious young son, determined to make a new life for herself as a singer. I was thinking about the TV series Alice. Why was I? Because the setting for today’s lunch is Mel’s Diner in Beatty, NV.

“Mel's Diner was the setting for the 1976-1985 American TV Series Alice. It was a roadside diner on the outskirts of Phoenix, Arizona that served locals and truckers alike. It had a counter, two large booths, and a couple of tables. Although one of the three waitresses, Alice, was the main character, the show revolved around all the waitresses and Mel Sharples, the owner and cook. Most scenes of the show took place in the diner as well. The diner setting was so intertwined with the show that the series itself is often referred to erroneously as ‘Mel's Diner’” (

“Beatty…is an unincorporated community and a census-designated place (CDP) along the Amargosa….
Route 95 runs through the CDP, which lies between Tonopah, about 90 miles…to the north, and Las Vegas, about 120 miles…to the southeast. State Route 374 connects Beatty to Death Valley National Park, about 8 miles…to the west” ( Beatty is the Eastern Gateway to Death Valley National Park.

There is not much to this town of about 1,000. There are a few saloons/bars,
a couple of commercial buildings sporting murals of local scenes and events,

and this small...whatever. Was this a tiny church? Was it a school? Given the satellite dish attached to the front, I suspect that it serves neither of these purposes today.

Opportunities for dining are slim, but at least there is Beatty’s version of Mel’s Diner, which until two years ago had been a Mexican restaurant and which today receives surprisingly good reviews on such websites as Here is such a review from d8889 from Bologna, Italy: “Travelling all over the States too often you can see places pretending to be old style diners when actually they are a sort of fast food eateries serving food of poor quality.
Mel's Diner is for sure an exception, it's a real one, a testimony to a bygone era when getting good, simple and right priced food was much easier….”

The diner is small, is open for only breakfast and lunch, and has a very short menu that, at lunch, is centered on hot and cold sandwiches, burgers, and a few salads. But, as with any diner worth its name, there are a number of daily or blue plate specials.

On the day of our visit these were a veggie burger with fries; spaghetti with meat sauce with garlic bread and a small salad; three pieces of spicy chicken with fries; and chicken fried steak with veggies, fries, and a small salad. But we ordered none of these.

Instead, Chuck ordered the double cheeseburger (onion only) with a side of shoestring fries. Now, after four plus years on the road, there is not much new that I can say about a cheeseburger other than Chuck really enjoyed this one.

With great misgivings, I chose Mel’s version of the Philly Cheesesteak. And, no this wasn’t really a cheesesteak. But if the menu had read Pepper and Mushroom Steak Sandwich, I would have been perfectly happy.

In truth, this was a delicious sandwich—just not a Philly Cheesesteak. The buttered and toasted roll was piled high with a mix of thin sliced beef, mushrooms, green peppers, and onions with a thin layer of shredded cheese on top. And on the side I had a dish of pretty good potato salad made with chopped onion, pickle, and celery.

We passed on dessert and set forth to return to Pahrump the long way—through Death Valley—after a good 3.0 Addie lunch.

To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.

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