Avalon Diner has aptly and consistently satisfied the need for American comfort food in one location or another in the River Oaks area since 1938. These are probably the cleanest and nicest diners in town. In part because of this, and the kid-friendly American menu, these restaurants are popular with families with younger children on the weekends. The fare is typical diner fare for this part of the country. It won’t excite some folks, but many others will find it comfortable and familiar.
As with most diners, one of the most compelling about the Avalon Diner is that breakfast is served all the time. The breakfasts are the well-worn, expected favorites that Avalon does well: eggs, pancakes, omelets, waffles, French toast, and all of the requisite sides. For regional flavor, there is also the Mexican and Tex-Mex breakfast items like Huevos Rancheros and Migas. The French toast is one of the highlights of the these offerings, and is one of the better versions in town. The numerous egg dishes are properly cooked, and any one can be made with egg whites or an egg substitute for an additional charge. The hash browns really are hash browns, made with shredded potatoes, but are too often undercooked. For the meat, choose the sausage, as the bacon is prepared en masse in batches and might arrive very dry and less-than-tasty.
The numerous non- breakfast offerings include a range of hamburgers, hot dogs, hot and cold sandwiches, salads, vegetable soup of the day, frito pie and dinner plates. Some of the sandwiches are old-time regional diner items such as the patty melt, pimento cheese and egg salad. The hamburgers are diner-quality and pretty decent, made with griddle-fried hamburger patties. Jalapenos can readily add more zest and flavor. The full dinners include an eight-ounce steak, the ubiquitous chicken fried steak, an open-faced roast beef sandwich, meatloaf, grilled frankfurters with baked beans and a couple of chicken dishes.
The more elaborate and fine value specials that change daily include baked chicken and dressing, fried chicken, roast turkey and dressing, roast beef and dressing, chicken and dumplings, tuna croquettes, and a stuffed bell pepper. The accompaniments for these can include: fried okra, red beans and rice, jalapeno cheese grits, baked sweet potato and black-eyed peas. Cajun Chef hot sauce and a couple flavors of Tabasco will be a necessary addition for many, as the flavors are rarely bold (the service at times might be more so), much less exotic. But, the patrons, most of them long-time, are happy with what they’re getting here.
In any case, it’s good to remember that Avalon Diner still serves the old-fashioned fountain drinks such as milk shakes, cherry Coke, ice cream sodas and ice cream floats.
2417 Westheimer (east of Kirby), Houston, Texas 77098, (713) 527-8900
12810 Southwest Freeway (in the Fountains Center), Stafford, Texas 77477, (281) 240-0213
Copyright Mike Riccetti. Adapted from Houston Dining on the Cheap, and used with permission.
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