Parkway Diner, South Burlington, VT
The Parkway Diner in South Burlington has been at its present location on busy Route 2 since it was first built and delivered in 1950. From the looks of the fun old sign out front, we’re guessing it’s been there just as long.
This Worcester Lunch Car (#839) has the classic red porcelain enamel exterior with vertical silver-colored trim and is well preserved on the inside, with a well-worn counter attesting to its long, busy life. Eight booths and seventeen counter seats were in service. Everything was shiny and clean, brightened by the usual stainless steel with the added cheeriness of colorful Christmas tree lights strung up high. The original red and cream-colored ceramic tiles and mosaic floor were in good shape, and the original storage and refrigeration areas were also well preserved.
While many diners have moved their food prep areas out of sight into additions built behind or around the original diner, the Parkway continues to cook behind the counter in full view of its customers. We enjoyed this opportunity to see the cooks in action and appreciated their obvious awareness of food safety as well as their skill in preparing and presenting both breakfast and lunch items.
The menu itself was nicely limited to a reasonable number of breakfast and lunch choices, including some interesting vegetarian sandwich options and several variations on burgers. Instead of French fries, their plates came with seasoned, hand-cut potatoes that we watched them fry in large batches on the flat-top grill. No desserts were offered. They obviously pride themselves on sourcing ingredients from Vermont producers, posting the names of local farms and companies from which they purchase.
The staff were pleasant but not overly outgoing. We sat at the counter and chatted a little, but they tended to be more reserved than some (see Windsor Diner, one of our favorites for fun folks) but were definitely attentive to our needs.
Don ordered a cheese burger, which came with tomato, lettuce, pickles, and red onion as well as coleslaw and the home fries. This time we brought a guest, and he also ordered the cheeseburger with an additional burger patty. I had my usual BLT, served with pickle slices and potato chips.
BLT: My BLT came on nicely toasted whole wheat bread with the right proportion of tasty bacon, bright green lettuce, and the usual pale pink, rubbery excuse for a tomato. A side of chips and three pickle slices rounded out a good sandwich with generous mayo. On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being excellent and 5 being average, I gave it (8).
Burger: Both burger eaters appreciated the chubby meat patties made from local beef as opposed to the thin frozen commercial types we have sometimes encountered. One found his medium burger nicely done, the other found the medium-well burger to be dry, and both agreed they’ve had tastier burgers in terms of flavor. The bun was nothing special but the seasoned, hand-cut potatoes were a welcomed side and neither missed the French fries. Both independently rated their burgers (7).
Dessert: No desserts were available.
BLT with chips and pickle slices: $6.95
Burger with Swiss cheese, tomato, onion, lettuce, and pickle plus home fries and coleslaw: $8.25
Extra patty: $2.65
Root beer, large: $2.25
Total bill for Don and me before taxes and gratuity: $19.70
Restrooms: The single-person restrooms were clean and well-maintained. (10)
Service: Quietly friendly. (9)
Overall experience: 8.5
1696 Williston Road
South Burlington, Vermont 05403
Parkway Diner is open from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., serving breakfast and lunch. Take out is available.