Guy Fieri’s Favorite “Dives”

27 Jan

guy

There’s nothing quite like a dive. That’s how celebrity chef Guy Fieri views the food universe. Sure, Fieri, a California restaurateur-turned-Food Network favorite (The Next Food Network Star, Guy’s Big Bite, Ultimate Recipe Showdown), can probably afford to eat out these days in the fanciest of establishments. But he prefers places with character — or, better yet, that are run by characters — where the cooking is hearty, the atmosphere gritty and the lines always out the door.

The spiky-haired Fieri, himself no small character, pays homage to such places in what is arguably his best Food Network series to date, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

The show’s simple philosophy?

“If it’s funky, we’ll find it,” says Fieri, who explains that he searches for restaurants that serve “real” food (“I don’t care if it’s just a chili dog, but let it be a righteous chili dog”), and those that have a story behind them.

We sat down with Fieri on a sweltering morning during the 2008 South Beach Wine & Food Festival — he was kind enough to offer us a towel so that we could wipe our brow — and asked him to name a few favorites among the dozens of diners, drive-ins and dives he’s profiled.

Here are his picks:

Benny’s
2500 S.W. 107th Ave., Miami, Fla.
305-227-1232
Puerto Rican cuisine in a luncheonette setting.

“A nondescript joint, run by a family,” says Fieri.

But the food?

It was so good, says Fieri, “I just about lost my mind.”

The menu is heavy on seafood, but the house favorite is the mofongo, a dish made with mashed fried plantains and any number of additions, from pork to chicken.

Pizza Palace
3132 Magnolia Ave., Knoxville, Tenn.
865-524-4388
Yes, pizza in Tennessee — in a decades-old establishment run by Greeks, no less.

But Fieri says it shouldn’t be so unexpected: Greeks are among the best cooks around, known for their expertise in running diners.

At this Knoxville establishment, “Everything they make, they make from scratch,” Fieri notes. And in case you’re not in the mood for a pie, they’re equally known for their — you guessed it — Greek salad.

Mike’s Chili Parlor
1447 N.W. Ballard Way, Seattle, Wash.
206-782-2808
A Seattle fixture since 1922.

“They put chili on spaghetti, chili on [hot] dogs, chili on grilled-cheese sandwiches,” says Fieri.

To top it off — no pun intended — it’s not your everyday chili. “It’s more like a meat sauce,” explains Fieri, adding that it’s made from a secret recipe.

Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge
2519 Marshall St. N.E., Minneapolis, Minn.
612-788-9069
Don’t let the name scare you: This place is “a real funky joint,” converted from an old motel and coffee shop, says Fieri.

The food fits the spirit, from battered and deep-fried hot dogs (“Red Rockets,” they’re called) to a Hawaiian-inspired pizza with rum-soaked raisins.

Duarte’s Tavern
202 Stage Rd., Pescadero, Calif.
650-879-0464
The restaurant takes up about “three quarters of the town,” says Fieri, noting that the 104-year-old eatery has a “humongous” garden where they “grow everything from berries for the pies to artichokes for the dips.”

Plus, they make a cioppino, the popular California seafood stew, that Fieri promises is “to die for.” (“And I’m a cioppino junkie,” Fieri adds.)

Bayway Diner
2019 South Wood Ave., Linden, N.J.
908-862-3207
This eight-stool Jersey diner has special significance for Fieri since it’s the first location the series ever shot.

Plus, Fieri is a diner fanatic: “You pack everybody in there, they cook right in front of you,” he explains of the appeal of such eateries.

As for this one, he doesn’t wax poetic about a particular dish or two so much as the impossibly small setting, replete with a cramped basement where the roasted turkey is prepared.

Such places, Fieri concludes, are all about “a love affair with food.”

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7 Responses to “Guy Fieri’s Favorite “Dives””

  1. Rico January 28, 2009 at 1:01 pm #

    Here’s a great site with all of the Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives Locations hosted by Guy Fieri. That show is awesome and it supports our local economy.

  2. Susan Loughren October 7, 2009 at 11:36 pm #

    Hi Guy, we would love to have you come to Sarasota/bradenton area. the place is called The Banana Factory. It’s different and unique on it’s own. This is a suggestion when you do come back this way. There are a couple of other resturants as well. Please contact me email susanloughren@hotmail.com or call me 941-879-1408

    You all are great. thank you, Susan Loughren

  3. peter nord December 4, 2009 at 6:43 pm #

    CAUGHT PART OF A SHOW ABOUT SANDWICHES (MAYE POBOYS, I’M NOT CERTAIN), WHERE THE SECRET INGREDIENT WAS DEBRIS.

    KNOW IT? IS IT ON HIS WEBSITE?

    • dixiedining December 8, 2009 at 8:22 pm #

      Roast beef po-boy — debris consists of the juices and little bits of charred beef that are rendered when cooking the meat. Makes for a very tasty sammich! Our fave can be found at the Parkway in New Orleans. Mother’s also makes a mighty fine RB po-boy.

  4. Joan Alvarez June 22, 2010 at 11:56 am #

    From New York, when on a trip to California I went to Mambos — featured in one of Guy’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives — and ordered the show’s featured dish — tostones rellenos. YUMMY!!!! I have since learn how to make them myself. Here’s a trick I learned. What I didn’t like about Mambos (I went in May ’10) presentation is that the tostones rellenos were oval shaped and to keep them from wobbling, the rellenos had to be placed next to each other, so that they would hold each other up. Not too pretty. So — being my mother’s daughter — Cuban, who never walked away from a food challenge (she perfected crepes in a pre-1970’s kitchen with no teflan) — I searched and searched the Internet until I found a tostonera that molded the toston into a cup AND gave the toston a flat bottom.

    I have perfectly presentable tostones rellenos.

    Thank you Guy Fierri for finding Mambos!

  5. Randy January 9, 2011 at 3:28 am #

    Guy Fieri stopped at a Cuban place in Florida and tried Cuban pork with mojo, served with rice and black beans. Did anyone catch the name of the place?

    Thanks,

    Randy

  6. jerrycom June 8, 2013 at 2:30 pm #

    Bennys is one of your favorite????? Really. We ordered the mofungo and that shit was so dry you could brake a tooth. Also it had very little flavor. The mofungo at Bravo Supermarket is better than the garbage served at Bennys. To top it off since Guy Fieris visit they even have the nerve to raise prices. Im starting to question Guys taste.

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