The sign says "Florida's Oldest Diner" and a quick Google search corroborates this claim. But whether or not the claim is factual, this old fashioned diner housed in a converted train car with drive-in service is impossible to resist should you find yourself cruising towards the big bridge on Reid Street / US-17 in Palatka. We had less than two seconds tops to make our decision and our deranged impulses had us swerving off the road with enough force to topple even the sturdiest SUV. Fortunately we weren't in an SUV and, more importantly, we soon discovered that we had made the right choice.
I have a vibrant imagination, not really a skill that will get you anywhere in life unless your dad/uncle/sibling works in Hollywood. In my mind's eye I can see Angel's Diner enshrouded in the desaturated-blue tone of a 1950s night, packed to the brim with the leather clad young men and skirted girls from the surrounding enclaves, the nexus of youth culture in a remote Southern town. And perhaps the nights are still like this, despite the shift in styles over the past 50+ years, but we crashed the party during the daylight hours and the patrons were a split between the aged former-youth and the leather clad bikers of the present.
This place is the real deal. Perhaps a few fresh coats of paint have been applied since its ancient inception but I doubt there's been any drastic changes. Perusing the menu, one is even inclined to believe that the prices have remained stagnant. Seriously, you can scarcely feed yourself at McDonald's for as little as it cost us at Angel's Diner.
I ordered one of their specialty items, the Black Bottom, which involves scrambling eggs, some hamburger meat, and some bacon up into a patty and slapping it on a sandwich. I successfully maintain a rather healthy diet but decadent foods like the Black Bottom could ruin it all for me. It was delicious. The lovely lady got the chili fries but that's only because Angel's, being an old Southern establishment, doesn't serve creamed chipped beef. All you Northerners will have to go to the Metro Diner for that.
Looking around at some of the other patron's choices, I notice that the hamburgers are entirely too big for the price. I mean, as a person who has been raised to think that McDonald's meat to dollar ratio is the market minimum, I was surprised to see how big the burgers were when thinking back to the meager prices listed in the menu.
And the service? What we got was super nice, as if the 50s "happy to be here and glad to see you" attitude perfumed the walls and permeated the atmosphere.
Open 24/7, I can't think of any other place I'd rather stop when cruising through Palatka... I can't think of any other place I could stop at all hours (we're going to pretend that Waffle House and Huddle House don't exist for a moment, maybe longer). Whether it be for the food or the atmosphere, Angel's Diner is a must-see for anybody exploring the Northeast Florida region.
209 Reid Street,
Palatka, FL 32177,