***** THIS RESTAURANT IS PERMANENTLY CLOSED *****
If you are an aficionado of the classic American roadside diner, put the Salem Diner on your must-visit list. This Sterling Streamliner is a blue-plate beauty, opened for business on July 3, 1941, and built to look as futuristic as a speeding locomotive or airplane. At the time, it was the height of modern design. Sixty years later, it has become a relic of a time when going places fast seemed the ultimate sign of progress, and it is now on the National Register of Historic Places and is run and owned by Salem State University.
It remains an eye-popping structure with its cornerless rounded end that seems to be peeking out onto the road as you drive north on Route 1A just past a large liquor store (which apparently owns all the good parking spots). Inside, its green mosaic tiny-tile floor and curving barrel roof evoke a million hash-house meals of days gone by.
Breakfast can be close to instantaneous, especially if you have a counter seat where the plates are virtually slid to their destination and the coffee flows without end. Breakfast is basic: eggs and bacon, bacon and eggs, pancakes, French toast, a few omelets, and OK corned beef hash. The lunch menu is mostly sandwiches and a few salads. It’s the place itself that wins our hearts.
Hours of operation at the Salem Diner are suited to working people: open at dawn, closing after lunch.