TOUR TEXAS: They Were Way Too Cool For Me!

I had lunch with Bill Haley and the Comets, Rick Nelson and the Four Tops the other day . . . no, not in rock and roll heaven; at the City Diner & Oyster Bar in downtown Corpus Christi.

The City Diner has been a landmark for decades with an eclectic look of art deco architecture and a ’50-style black and white pallet. It’s a sort of Mel’s Drive-In with an attitude and no curb service.

We were led to our table past an open mesquite grill used on steaks and juicy mega burgers. There were miles of stainless steel, pink and white neon, and gray-topped tables paired with vinyl covered chairs and booths. As they used to say – it was a serious blast from the past.

A wall along side our corner booth was covered with framed yearbook pages and class photos from the 50s and 60s including an 8×10 black and white image of everyone’s favorite Angel, Farrah Fawcet. She must have been 18 or so, and a cutie even before the infamous red swimsuit pin-up poster.

While waiting for our meal to be delivered by a waitress whCity Dinero called me “hon”, my Texas Travelin’ Gal and I took in the atmosphere and listened to classic oldies like “Poison Ivy”, “Rock Around the Clock”, and “Blue Velvet”. We heard the Everly Brothers explain in song how little Suzy’s goose was cooked, her reputation was shot. So sad for Suzy, but my lunch was here!

Loaded with cheese, pickles, onions, jalapenos, lettuce and tomato, on a fresh bun, the quarter pound “Greasy Burger” was just as advertised . . .”A Hamburger should be a little greasy or it’s just not a Hamburger”, the menu read. The mesquite grill in the lobby had done its job well. Bring on the big, thick chocolate malt and this diner delight could not have been better.

Lunch at the City Diner was a tasty trek back to the time of real American music and messy burgers, black and white wall tiles and touches of maroon in a black and gray carpet. It was an escape from cookie cutter menus and eateries found along the freeway from Orange to El Paso. It was the kind of place where Arthur Fonzarelli or Danny Zuko would have hung out with Sandra Dee, Connie Francis and the Texas Travelin’ Man.

Who am I kiddin’? They were way too cool for me!


The City Diner is at 622 North Water Street in downtown Corpus Christi.


   Michael Baxter is the Texas Travelin’ Man

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