Welcome to Hidden Gem, Gut Check's short love letter to restaurants, coffee shops and bars that lie off the beaten path. These places soldier on in relative anonymity, beloved by their regulars, but largely overlooked by the greater populace. Hidden Gem will attempt to rectify these terrible oversights. Have a Hidden Gem of your own to share? Tell us in the comments.
When Patch neighborhood resident Sue Stewart saw the short-lived original Carondelet Diner (321 East Davis Street) go vacant in 2012, she knew she could make it into a good, old-fashioned greasy spoon of her own. She kept the name, the corresponding signage and even the theme of home-cooked specialties -- albeit using her own recipes. The resulting menu weighs delicately on the wallet and heavily on the gut.
"You'll get a good amount of food for a good price," says Stewart, who paid her hospitality dues managing a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant for twelve years. "It's pretty much the food we always cooked at home. I've got kids who are now grown up, and all their friends came over to our house to eat."
The menu, featuring locally butchered Kenrick's meats as well as other local products, contains all the diner favorites: all manner of breakfast dishes, Slingers, cheap burgers and fries. It then ups the ante with daily from-scratch dinner specials and a selection of specialty burgers stuffed with the likes of mac & cheese and Philly cheese steak ingredients.
For daily deals, expect to find dishes such as chicken and dumplings, meatloaf, smothered pork chops and fried chicken. And for something extra special, Carondelet Diner hosts a Lebanese brunch every couple of months -- think cabbage rolls, stuffed grape leaves and baklava. Carondelet Diner's current hours are Monday through Sunday from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, visit the Carondelet Diner Facebook page.
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