In the deluxe neighborhood of River Oaks, the Avalon Drug Store and Diner is evidence that even fancy people appreciate plebeian meals. A single inconspicuous door leads from pharmacy to a dining area where the lunchtime din is like a happy party – for singles, couples, and families. Clientele are white collar, blue collar, blue blood, and redneck. Business men toss their tie aprons over their shoulders to shelter them from burger-juice drippings; immaculately coiffed women with eye-popping manicures pick up fork and knife to slice into smothered pork chops and scoop up mustard greens and candied yams.
The lunch counter dates back to 1938, and although this location is a new one, the booths are upholstered in out-of-date white-piped green leatherette, and food is made the old fashioned way. At the counter you watch waitresses squeeze lemons for lemonade and make milk shakes at the five-wand multi-mixer. Shakes and malts are served in their mixing can, which arrives at your place with frost going three-quarters up the outside, indicating the liquid level within. They are thick enough that the waitress has to jiggle the silver beaker to encourage the stuff to pour out into a glass.
The Avalon is known for consummate lunch-counter hamburgers, served well-dressed with tomato, lettuce, pickle, onion, mustard, and mayonnaise. They are available with American cheese, of course, as well as with Swiss; and possible companions include French fries, chili fries, chili cheese fries, wet fries (topped with brown or cream gravy), and onion rings.