There are some things you begin to understand as you get older. One of those is how you define a great restaurant.
Is it the food?
Is it the people?
Is it just comfy and easy, or next to your house?
Here’s the thing about Southwest Diner: they are all three and then some. The good news is that they are back open for dine-in service, following nearly two years of being closed or having shortened hours due to the pandemic. The establishment, run by Jonathan Jones and Anna Sidel, features an invigorating twist on classic breakfast dishes, but with a southwestern concoction added in. In other words, stock up on milk because the green and red chile sauce on these Mexican-themed dishes do not lie!
The great part about SWD is that every time you walk in, familiar faces and memories swarm the mind instantly. That time when I left my first radio show and needed a good meal? SWD. When my uncle came into town and wanted breakfast food done right? SWD. The first option in the morning, especially if one gets even close to the intersection of McCausland and Southwest, is always Southwest Diner.
It was where I became friends with Max Pryce before he became one of St. Louis’ best comedians. It was where I was promised a big hug from Eric Nemens, a professional photographer who worked at the diner for several years, every time I came in. It’s where any patron can chat with Jones, who frequently moves around the dining area with a large smile on his face.
Once again, great people and great food. With their dining service being open again, you can get the food red hot and fiery right out of the kitchen. The home fries, uneven chunks of crispy potatoes, are sizzling upon delivery. Jonathan’s Fiery Scramble, my favorite dish, has the spicy cheese still bubbling on top of the bed of eggs.
The New Mexican Breakfast Burrito, especially with some morning star sausage cooked in, is an experience. The enchiladas and tamales are famous. Anna’s dank vegetarian bowl will stuff you for the rest of the day.
The Bloody Mary’s are spicy and produce a few kicks upon sipping–that is if you actually sip alcoholic beverages. The first time my dad ate there, he powered through FOUR Bloody Marys inside an hour. At Southwest Diner, you go big or you go home to cold, not-as-tasty breakfast food. Everything on the menu is delicious and unique to that building. There is no copying done at this diner.
But the thing that brings you back are the people there. While ever changing due to the way life turns and slices, the staff is always REAL and COURTEOUS. While having a cutie like Pryce deliver a burrito to your front door can be kind of cool, giving him your order there in the actual building is even better.
Finally, after a long wait due to the giant shithead we call COVID-19, Southwest Diner is back open. Don’t think, because that’s only bad for the ballclub. Just go and enjoy. Thank me later.