Monday, February 4, 2013

Do You Remember Poodle Skirts?

How about crinolines? And just who thought this would be a good look anyway?

Did you wear white tennis shoes with your bobby sox? And did you roll the tops? And did you wear your cardigan sweater backward?

Did you have a hula hoop? And was it made by Wham-O?

Did you run home from school to watch American Bandstand and see Bob and Justine, Kenny and Arlene, and Ed and Bunny? And how often have you repeated: "It's got a good beat and you can dance to it."?

Do you still have your collection of 45’s and does it contain such classics as "Purple People Eater" (Sheb Wooley), "Hot Rod Lincoln" (Johnny Bond), "Eddie My Love" (The Teen Queens), and "Sh-Boom, Life Could Be a Dream" (The Crew Cuts).
And when you hear The Crew Cuts sing “Hey nonny ding dong, alang alang alang - Boom ba-doh, ba-doo ba-doodle-ay" ( do you turn to the person next to you and say “They sure don’t write ‘em like this any more!”

Do you regret the day that you sold your ’57 Chevy, Model 150 to your younger brother for beer money?

Do you channel surf looking for the classic I Love Lucy episode Lucy Does a TV Commercial? (Desperate to be in Ricky's new television commercial, Lucy makes every attempt to get her way; which eventually pays off. But her one-and-only chance flops when she is forced to test the sponsor's product repeatedly, a nutritional elixir called Vitameatavegamin, which is 23% alcohol []).

If you answered yes to two or more of these questions, then, like me, you must consider the 1950’s the “golden days of your youth.” And Little Anthony’s Diner in Tucson is the place for you.

“Before there was fusion, there was Little Anthony's…. A great place to take the kids and a cool outing for baby boomers who wax nostalgic for the 1950s, Little Anthony's exudes a ‘Happy Days’ atmosphere with its diner decor, a background score of early rock and roll hits, and, of course, the food. Burgers are the featured attractions, with supporting roles given to such diner standards as chicken-fried steak, meatloaf, and soda fountain specials. There's also good, old-fashioned Grandma Tony's pizza, devoid of any topping (asparagus, feta cheese) that you wouldn't have found on an average 14-inch pie circa 1960.
(The name Grandma Tony's pays homage to Tony Terry, the man who owns every diverse business in the building, including the musical-parody institution Gaslight Theatre)… (

You walk through the doors and are immediately assaulted by a visual cornucopia. The flooring is black and white square tiles which mimic the black and white tiles along the booth walls.

The red booths are upholstered with what I call 1950’s car upholstery—you know the plastic kind that looks metallic or iridescent. The walls are pink and are hung with posters of John Wayne, James Dean (Never one of my favorites. I don’t like that whole intense brooding thing.), Elvis, and Marilyn Monroe.

There is a small soda fountain off to one side,

and the women servers are dressed in pink and black, short-skirted uniforms. One even had a 1950’s pony tail.

“A menu is a restaurant's manifesto, and Little Anthony's Diner's manifesto offers a bit of flair. The BLT is called a ‘Pig in a Garden;’ the club sandwich is known as the ‘Chubby Checker Triple Decker;’ and all of the healthy items are clustered under the hilarious heading ‘Things Elvis Wouldn't Eat.’ Burgers? Oh, they've got burgers, and they come served in a plastic basket lined in paper, just like a diner burger should. Our only caution at this wonderful little throwback to the 1950s is to save room for dessert…" (
The lunch “Blue Plate Specials” include homemade meatloaf with mashed potatoes, grilled pork chops, chicken fried steak, hot turkey sandwich, hot roast beef sandwich, and chicken fried chicken plus daily specials. On the day of our visit, these were the BLT and Dad’s Favorite—a hamburger with grilled onions.

But we both stuck with the ’50-themed burgers. For Chuck, it was the La Bamba Burger. (“’La Bamba’ is a Mexican folk song, originally from the state of Veracruz, best known from a 1958 adaptation by Ritchie Valens, a top 40 hit in the U.S. charts and one of early rock and roll's best-known songs. Valens' version of ‘La Bamba’ is ranked number 354 on Rolling Stone magazine′s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and is the only song on the list sung in a language other than English” []). His burger—served on a toasted bun—contained green chile, jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickle, and onion and came with a small cup of salsa.

I chose the Hunk-a-hunk of Burning Love Burger (I don’t need to tell you, do I?) with cheddar and pepper jack cheeses, sliced jalapenos, an onion ring, lettuce, tomato, pickle, and onion and a side cup of hot wing sauce.

Before our food arrived, I figured that Little Anthony’s would be mostly shtick and little substance. I was wrong. Both of our burgers were beautifully medium with a slight pink center and were juicy with good beef flavor. And the condiments on each complimented the beef rather than overwhelming it. The fries that came with each order were very good—somewhere between shoestring and regular-sized.

We were debating dessert, and I failed to convince Chuck to share Elvis’ favorite shake with peanut butter and bananas. Then our server told us about “The World’s Smallest Sundae”—one scoop of vanilla ice cream with hot fudge or butterscotch or a couple of other toppings that I don’t remember. Perfect. One hot fudge sundae for each of us. Just the perfect ending.

We kept asking ourselves “How haven’t we found this place before?” Good food, and I can sing along—sometimes too loudly—to my favorite ‘50’s hits. A 4.0 Addie place for a good time.

And, as we left the parking lot (with its 1960 Cadillac Fleetwood), we could hear a small voice singing Jan and Dean’s 1963 classic--
"Surf City":

“…we're goin' to Surf City, 'cause it's two to one
You know we're goin' to Surf City, gonna have some fun
Ya, we're goin' to Surf City, 'cause it's two to one
You know we're goin' to Surf City, gonna have some fun, now
Two girls for every boy”

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

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