Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Danny's All American Diner

While I like to goof on Guy Fieri sometimes, I have to admit that a lot of the dining recommendations from his Food Network show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives are on point. During the nearly 10 years that Triple D has been around, Guy has featured places in the Tampa Bay area on 7 separate occasions and I'm happy to report that, as of yesterday, I've now visited 6 of those 7 establishments; I'll even daresay that I think this latest one is my favorite of the bunch. The kinder and I first explored Danny's All American Diner (4406 N. Falkenburg Rd.) on State Fair Day in February (you know, the day in western Hillsborough County when all the kids are off from school and they each get a free ticket to the Florida State Fair - wait, what do you mean they don't do that where you live?). Instead of attempting to bodysurf the gap-toothed multitudes at the fairgrounds, we wandered around the quiet (and mostly empty) Henry Plant Museum in downtown Tampa before venturing out to Danny's for lunch, located about 2 miles east of the state fair site (about as close as I wanted to get that day). During this visit, I had to try the marquee item on the menu; that is, the Guy Fieri's Triple Play burger, which included a 2/5 lb. beef patty topped with pastrami, mojo pork (3 meats total, hence the "triple play" designation), Swiss and American cheeses, mustard, tomato, jalapenos, and fried onion rings, all on a sourdough bun. Yes, this monstrosity kept me close to a restroom for a couple of days, but yes, it was all worth it in the end.  On my more recent trip, I was in the mood for a Cuban sandwich and decided to put Danny's to the test again (allegedly, they offer one of the better Cubans in town).

If you're not careful when you're driving down Falkenburg Road, you'll zoom right past the small, relatively nondescript stand that houses Danny's operations.  All seating is outdoors (there are tables in front and around back) and parking is available in the scruffy, but shaded vacant lot across the street.

When you approach the ordering window, be sure to slide open the lid of the metal drink cooler and poke around a bit - inside is a terrific selection of some hard-to-find specialty sodas, including one of my favorites, Ale 8-1 from Kentucky (you can see some of the sodas above).  Also, try to resist the urge to order the Roberto Clemente burger that's being suggested to you via an enticing window painting (that's not actual size, by the way).

The staff is very friendly at Danny's, but the operation is pretty bare bones (and they seem to get a lot of call-in orders for takeout around lunchtime), so be prepared to wait a little while for your food. Pro tip - if it's warm out ('s Florida), the picnic tables situated behind the storage container in the back lot are cooled off by a large electric fan.

The house Cuban sandwich is large and very tasty, definitely landing on the list of my local Top 5 Cubans. All of the traditional toppings are there (Genoa salami if you're a Tampanian, lots of Virginia baked ham, pulled pork, Swiss cheese, dill pickles, and mustard), plus a couple of others (mayo and capicolla), and the bread (which may or may not be from La Segunda Bakery in Ybor City - I couldn't tell exactly) is pressed until crunchy, a crucial characteristic of a true Cuban.

It was the onion rings that held up my order, but they were definitely worth the wait: a white paper sack filled with large, golden rings, hot and crispy from the fryer. If you must get fries, be sure to select the mix (half of each) instead.

The menu is extensive enough at Danny's that multiple visits will be required to experience all of the best sandwiches they have to offer. Although it's not close to the Canteen (about 40 minutes away), I won't be waiting for the State Fair to roll around again before returning...

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