Legendary | Worth driving from anywhere
Review by: Maggie Rosenberg & Trevor Hagstrom
The Palace Diner seats one car length’s worth of patrons. When the Pollard Company built it in 1927, that meant fifteen diners. It still advertises that “ladies” are “invited” on the side of the car. Since then, it’s been parked in Biddleford, Maine, surviving six owners.
It’s hard to make a fifteen-seat restaurant in a mossed-over trailer work. This version of the Palace Diner is working, and working hard. Long wait times reflect its popularity. It might be worth spending a special night in Biddleford just to arrive before they sell out of flapjacks. But if they are out of them, don’t worry. Every dish on the diner’s menu is a favorite.
Coffee, called the “Ladies Invited” blend, is custom roasted by Tandem Coffee Roasters and comes in a bottomless cup. It has the balance of craft third-wave coffee, but captures that old-fashioned diner nuttiness.
The food also stays in line with traditional diner favorites, but, like the coffee, refuses to compromise on taste. The Palais Royale Burger is like a trained chef was tasked with making a Big Mac taste good. The bun is darker, the beef is fresh, the cheese is cheddar, and the pickles are spicy and just barely sweet. The fries have that narcotic smell of fast food, but are made fresh, crispy, and with skin left on. It’s one of the best diner burger and fry plates we’ve ever found.
An even better sandwich, and even better potatoes, come as “The Deluxe Sandwich.” This is a house-made English muffin layered with bacon rendered crisp and a square baked egg patty. The egg is blanketed with a tidy square of cheese. The secret ingredient? Pickled jalapeños that have been griddled dry so the sandwich doesn’t get over vinegared. The palace potatoes served along with the sandwich are smashed red potatoes fried to an amber crisp and finished with flakes of salt. They are good enough to require a second side order.
Our favorite dish of all is challah French toast. It’s a thick cut of rich, battered egg bread that gets finished with a crème brûlée-like crust of burnt sugar. As you pierce through it with your fork, the crunchy carmel folds into the custardy toast. As you eat, the whipped butter and real maple syrup ooze in. The bread is thick and salty enough to prevent the whole thing from becoming too sweet. It’s a wonderful breakfast.
You could ask people leaving the diner what they would recommend, and you’d eventually hear glowing praise for every item on the menu. It’s not often that a diner can make folks fanatic about hard-times classics like tuna melts and corned beef hash. The Palace Diner is that diner.
Directions & Hours
|Meals Served||Breakfast, Lunch|
|Credit Cards Accepted||Yes|