Dive right in

During our back and forth drive between the soccer tournament in Sonoma and our motel in Napa we passed by what look to be little more than a small roadside fruit stand. It was pretty non-descript and we probably wouldn’t have noticed it if it wasn’t for the large number of cars parked around it. There’s a tall 50’s era-looking sign out front that simply read “Diner.” It took us a couple of passes before we noticed a smaller sign with the words “Fremont Diner” on it.

My son’s last game ended around 1:00 p.m. on Sunday and were deciding on a place for lunch when my wife suggested the little place that we had passed by several times.

There are restaurants and bars that can be called dives. Although usually a pejorative term my family and I decided that there are two kinds of “dives.” The first kind is a shady, sordid place where one gets beaten up. The second type is kind a funky place that has character. The Fremont Diner is the latter.

Adding to the ambience was an old International pick-up truck rusting away in front of the eatery. Looking inside revealed only five tables and a small bar. But there were about 20 outdoor wooden picnic-type tables in what kind looked like a corral. The wait was long for an indoor table so we opted for eating alfresco. Still there were so many people there that we had to wait 10 to 15 minutes before seating opened up.

A cheery waitress took our order and my wife, son and I got their signature Fremont Burger while my 16-year-old daughter ordered the macaroni and cheese.

The burgers were delicious, well-cooked topped with fresh lettuce, tomatoes and grilled onions all on fluffy buns. The meat was tasty and juicy perhaps a little too juicy. Near the end of my burger the juices saturated the bun which began to fall apart. The skin-on french fries were at once both firm yet tender and also tasted great. My daughter whose meal didn’t come with fries, took some from my plate

Her macaroni and cheese was, as she put it, “very mac-and-cheesy.” The pasta was well cooked and the cheese sauce very creamy and tasty (very non-velveeta-y as she put it).

The Fremont Diner isn’t a fancy place (in fact, it’s quite the opposite of fancy), but it provides good food in a funky setting. It epitomizes the term “dive” but in a good way.

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