The B-Town Diner is one of those places that quietly opened up after we’d already passed it in the alphabet. It’s a skinny little place, squeezed into a spot that used to be a late-night pizza parlor (Greeks Pizzeria) right across the street from the Bluebird. They’re clearly targeting the late-night crowd, as evidenced by their posted hours, which unlike most restaurants, list when they are closed instead of when they are open. Most days they are closed 2:00 – 5:30pm, and they’re also closed Sundays after
3:00pm 2:00pm. That’s not a typo by the way; they are closed in the afternoons, not the wee hours of the morning.
We’ve only been there a couple times, which confuses me because we really liked the place. It’s easily the best late-night diner in town, and possibly the best late-night option for any kind of food. We do have a Denny’s, but it’s not exactly in a convenient location, and besides, it’s just a Denny’s. Perhaps the (literal) low profile and unassuming sign keeps it out of our consciousness, and so we just never think to go there. Perhaps it’s because we’re turning into old fogies who are never out late at night.
B-Town Diner. Saturday, August 16th, 2014. Dinnertime.
For the out-of-towners, it’s probably worth mentioning that “B-town” is a common nickname for Bloomington, Indiana. Personally, I think that “B-ton” would make more sense, but nobody asks me about these things.
B-Town makes good use of its narrow space, with raised booths on one long wall and tables on the other. There were photos by local artists on the walls and small leafy clippings in vases on the tables. The stereo was playing classic folk rock tunes at a reasonable volume (unlike their next-door neighbor Brother’s Bar and Grill, whose music is typically so loud that I’m surprised we couldn’t hear it in the diner).
Our server Marco was quite friendly, happy to give suggestions and willing to talk frankly about the restaurant (which does most of its business late at night), the owner (who also owns the computer repair store PC Max*), and the morning servers (who “suck” because they stocked the jam trays with nothing but grape jelly that day). Our orders were heavily influenced by Marco’s suggestions. Later in the evening, we met the owner Chris and had a nice conversation with him about the menu (he was considering adding an item called “hippie hash”), the kitchen (he maintains a separate grill for vegetarian food), and the restaurant itself (which he refers to as his “mid-life crisis”).
*Incidentally, PC Max is my favorite computer store in town, even though I’ve never spent any money there. I’ve been there twice with computer problems that I thought required purchasing a new piece of hardware, and both times, they talked me out of it by suggesting an alternate and much cheaper solution. They don’t have a large selection of hardware for sale, but if you’re looking for a little help with computer problems, I highly recommend them.
I (Erik) ordered the stuffed French toast with cream cheese and blueberries, which turned out to be more of a French toast sandwich than a stuffed anything, but holy cow was it good. The French toast was made from two enormous slabs of bread, and it was so tasty that I didn’t feel any need to add syrup.
Kira ordered the “spicy” chicken strips, which weren’t really spicy at all. They were a tad dry, but that’s pretty par for the course with chicken strips. The breading was nice and crispy and they came with four different dipping sauces: Cajun ranch, chipotle chile, garlic aioli, and ketchup. The chipotle chile sauce was our favorite.
They have several varieties of loaded fries, and because I was being indecisive about ordering breakfast or a cheesesteak, Kira decided to replace her ordinary side of fries with a side of the Philly loaded fries. This was probably our least favorite dish of the night as the fries were a bit overdone, but even then, it was still pretty delicious.
Neeraj ordered the cinnamon nutmeg pancakes, and after eating it, we were all saddened to hear that it was scheduled for removal from the menu. The pancakes were thick and had just the right kind of texture for that sort of pancakes. The word “fluffy” comes to mind, but that implies a lightness and evenness that doesn’t belong on a big American-style flapjack. In any case, they were quite good, and the nutmeg and cinnamon were good additions to the flavor.
There are a number of delicious-sounding items on the menu that we haven’t had a chance to try… You know what? I’m feeling hungry right now. Can you wait a few hours?
Three hours later…
Well, that was a bust. Apparently they close at 2 on Sundays, not 3 like their website says. That’s one black mark on an otherwise exemplary service record. We even called at 1:50pm and asked if they were open. The natural thing to do would be to say “Yes, but we close in 10 minutes,” not just “Yes.” Ah well. We’ll have to stop by some other time.
An excellent late-night diner with great food and friendly service hidden away in the middle of downtown Bloomington.