Shorty's Diner 

Here's the thing about Shorty's Diner: I really want an old '50s-style diner to exist in downtown, and I really want it to be successful and packed with patrons at all hours of the night. It's a feature every other American city seems to be able to maintain. But it's not going to happen if the Boise joint keeps blasting the Guess Who and Boston tunes through the speakers.

Louie and I headed to Shorty's on a Thursday night. Lone worker Cody was bussing tables, making milkshakes and waiting on patrons. And he was in the best mood I'd seen of a waiter lately. The menu didn't stray far from standard diner fare (breakfast served all day), sandwiches, salads, entrees that had random pangs of Italian, Indian and Greek influences. Ah, but no meatloaf, and few other gravy dishes, which are what I associate with diner food. I picked the curry chicken salad sandwich with side salad. Louie was all over the red pepper chicken sandwich with salad and we split the plate of mixed onion rings and fries.

Before Cody came with the grub, I admired the sweet car grilles attached to the walls, old records all over and the coolest starry carpet in all of Boise. Short of the classic rock beat, the place made me feel just like I was in American Graffiti. (Actually, they did throw in a broadcast of "Mack the Knife," but it was the single song played from that decade.) The sandwiches were great but in the vein of other kitschy spots like the Rainforest Cafe and its ilk, they were clearly banking on Shorty's being a fun place to eat. Exhibit A: Our side salads were so puny, made from sandwich fixins, that I actually laughed at how they looked sidecar to the sandwiches. The fries and onion rings were pretty straight forward, though.

Exhibit B: It was unreasonably expensive; the total for two sandwiches, fries and a brownie sundae was about 30 clams.

More than any other new-fangled, fusion, art-nouveau cuisine restaurant, Boise would best benefit from a Mel's Drive-In of our own, and that's why I want to see Shorty's succeed--but the diner should consider taking a jackknife to the prices. So we can see the lines form, on the right, babe. Now that diner's back in town.

—Jennifer Gelband knows what happened to Sukey Tawdry.

500 S. Capitol Blvd., 424-3676, www.shortysdiner.com
M: 7 a.m.-3 p.m., Tu-Th: 7 a.m.-9 p.m., F: 7 a.m.-11 p.m., Sa: 8 a.m.-11 p.m., Su: 8 a.m.-3 p.m.

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