Time is such a funny thing. I never seem to have enough of it, and it’s always slipping away really fast. Like most people in Asheville, I’ve got three jobs, six hobbies, 2,000 friends, plus… gotta watch Gotham. Ugh. NO TIME! Can I freeze time forever and just smoke weed in a suspended state of awesomeness for the rest of eternity? No? Fine. Whatever. That doesn’t leave me a lotta time for lunch, which is exactly why — when my mom and I recently tried to grab lunch on Haywood Road in West Asheville — we ended up at out 4th choice. Happily, we loved it!
First, we tried Urban Orchard, who have a brand new lunch program that I’ve been wanting to try. It was about 11:12am when we got there, and we were SOL, because they open for lunch at noon. Noon? Seems slightly literal to me, and we didn’t have time to wait, so my mom suggested W.A.L.K., which I was totally up for!
Unfortch, W.A.L.K. wasn’t quite open yet either. 15 mins until they are ready to serve? Can’t wait. Too busy.
We started driving to Sunnypoint.
Then I spied the Tastee Diner.
“WAIT!” I blurted out, “Let’s go to the Tastee Diner!”
Ever-game to try something new for lunch, my Mom banged a sharp right in her red convertible, pulled directly into a sweet, Kojak-style parking spot, and before you could say shit-on-a-shingle, I was eating a plate of… Shit on a Shingle!
Yay, Tastee Diner! The Tastee won our loyalty that day, not only because of the food (which was great and I’ll get back to in a minute), but also based on the all-important concept of good hours of operation! And partly because we got to it before we got to Sunnypoint… so location a li’l bit… but mostly, because of the hours of operation. I can not stress enough how important it is — from a customers’ point of view — for an eating establishment to have good, easy to remember, reasonable, logical hours of operation. It’s not just me and my mom that feel this way.
#1 is consistency (or lack thereof) but numero duo is definitely “weird hours,” “hippy hours,” or “bankers’ hours,” to use their language. Most frequently and specifically people complain to me about eateries that are closed on Tuesdays.
Don’t be closed on Tuesdays if you can help it. I guarantee that your customers hate it when you’re closed on Tuesdays. It’s their #2 complaint, Yo. I mean, you don’t gotta listen to me, but, y’know… number two complaint. Two for Tuesday. Don’t do it.
Aaanyhoodles… My mom and I had spent the morning assembling the “Best House Cup” Trophy for the Asheville Coffee Expo happening on Saturday October 1st (learn more by clicking here!) and by the time we entered the Tastee Diner we were both hungry, I was on the border of hangry. It took very little time for someone to say “hi,” to us, and for someone else to take our order at the counter. The people working that day were super-friendly, and very nice to my mom, which I liked a lot.
Just in case you don’t know: Shit on a Shingle is creamed, chipped beef on toast. It’s a classic military dish, first dubbed “shit on a shingle” by US soldiers during World War II. Listed on the Tastee menu as “S.O.S.” Wikipedia informs us that it also known as “Stew On a Shingle,” “Same Old Stuff,” “Something On a Shingle,” or occasionally “Save Our Stomachs.” Those terms are the only thing colorful about this dish, which is basically a plate of brown and beige slop that looks more like vomit than shit to me, but what do I know? I’m not a member of the Greatest Generation. Maybe shit looked more vomitty back then.
My point about this lumpy puddle of… whatever… is that it was fucking goooood! So good in fact that, it was a come-from-behind winner and is my EAT OF THE WEEK! Here’s a picture:
Right? Doesn’t look like much, and for sure, some folks would be, like, “uh-uh” at first sight, but this plate of beige was right up my fuckin’ alley, and I ate every speck of what was in front of me.
The Tastee makes their S.O.S. with Texas toast, and a house-smoked, creamed, chipped sirloin that had a very warm and comforting effect on my soul. I added two eggs on the side, and mixed it all together into a delicious, soupy, yolky, gravy-y, Texas-toasty mess that satisfied me on a level that I don’t often find in a diner these days. When I was a kid, you could get stuff like this in diners. Now days, diner food tastes like plastinated GMOs and rubberized proteins to me most of the time, but this food at the Tastee was… tasty! Yeah, man. Had to do it.
The price was right, the service was friendly, cheerful, and welcoming, and everything about this experience was excellent, including my mom’s order of Tastee Chicken and Waffles, which came topped with queso and pineapple-jalapeño jelly! She said might be the best thing she’s eaten all year! And my Mom ain’t no slouch, she goes out to eat a lot, and goes to some pretty swankin’ places. I had a bite of her dish and it was bangin’ for sure. I’ll order it another time.
Chef/Owner Jonathan Robinson (also of the Admiral) came over to our table, and was friendly and warm with me and my mom. She was happy to meet him and tell him how much she loved the food, and the atmosphere, and the music (oldies and dusties, that I could have lived without, but what do I expect, Ghathanothoa?), and that the price was perfect, and my Step-Dad would love it, and by the end of the conversation we were both vowing to be regulars. I even told Jonathan the story of our pre-noon lunch-struggle… and how Tastee was actually our fourth choice… which he took with a smile, especially when I added that we were super-glad we came in, and that I’d be naming his Shit on a Shingle as my EAT OF THE WEEK!
Thanks for being open, Tastee Diner, and for being super-friendly, and serving me and my mom some great food! We’ll be back for sure, and I’ll be recommending you to other eaters from now on.
And just in case anyone is wondering, here’s what the “Best House Cup” trophy that my mom helped me make looks like. Winner to be determined by popular vote at the 1st-ever Asheville Coffee Expo this Saturday, October 1st, 2016!
So I wedged two plugs for my own event into this review. So what? You barely noticed, because of the way I wove them into the story all clever ‘n’ shit. Shhhhh…
Address: 575 Haywood Rd, Asheville, NC 28806
Phone: (828) 412-5566
Stu Helm is an artist, writer, and podcaster living in Asheville, NC, and a frequent diner at local restaurants, cafes, food trucks, and the like. His tastes run from hot dogs and mac ‘n’ cheese, to haute cuisine, and his opinions are based on a lifetime of eating out. He began writing about food strictly to amuse his friends on Facebook.
ON THE RADIO: wpvmfm.org
The “Tastee Diner” link in the article is not for the Asheville restaurant.