Nostalgic noshes

Paradise staple is a tasty throwback to the old-fashioned diner

Y’ALL COME BACK NOW!<br>Charli Barteau, owner of the Comeback Diner, serves the Ultimate French Toast and the Political Breakfast.

Charli Barteau, owner of the Comeback Diner, serves the Ultimate French Toast and the Political Breakfast.

Photo By Evan Tuchinsky

The Comeback Diner
6053 Clark Road, Paradise
Phone: 877-9466
Hours: Open every day, 6 a.m.-9 p.m.

Comeback Diner

6053 Clark Rd.
Paradise, CA 95969

(530) 877-9466

I’d like to preface this review with a brief history. Your reviewer and some friends, in their early college years at Rutgers University, went on a quest for the perfect diner in the Tri-State area. We were ambitious, young and imbued with a seemingly never-satiated wanderlust. Our plans to eventually turn our findings into some type of a published diner guide never came to fruition, but over the course of two years we sampled hundreds of diners, mostly of the 24-hour variety.

Our quest took us to ‘50s-style, metal-encased, jukebox-housing diners and dark, wood-paneled affairs with menu selections in both English and Greek. Coffee was always ordered, with extra points for creamer arriving in a chilled, miniature pitcher. Bitchy waitresses served breakfast morning and night to drunken stragglers, stoned kids and trendy socialites commingling in settings brightened by neon lights and floor-to-ceiling revolving cake racks; this unique diner culture excludes no one and brings together people from all walks.

Three college majors, 3,000 miles and 300 jobs later, I find myself missing the East Coast less, missing those diners more and once again writing about my experiences in restaurants.

Synchronicity led to bumping into Monsieur Bourride at Safeway, and after listening to my plight, he recommended a fine little diner in Paradise he thought I might enjoy. The very next morning, I was on my way up the Skyway for some pancakes and coffee at The Comeback Diner.

Cute and inviting, the dining area was full of patrons. Sliding into the red, sparkly booth, I couldn’t help but love the ‘50s nostalgia of the dining room—the painted cherries on the wall, the busy waitresses attending to smiling families, the jukebox in the corner.

From biscuits and gravy to omelettes, the Comeback has it covered. We went with the B.O.B., or Build your Own Breakfast, a deal for $5.50. Choosing three items from the list was easy; I substituted the apple walnut pancakes for the buttermilk (for a small charge), and went with the home fries and biscuits and gravy. My friend chose two eggs (any style), French toast and two slices of bacon.

Our coffee was continually refilled, despite the full house, and our food was fantastic. Served with a generous dollop of sweet cream butter and cinnamon, the apple walnut pancakes were so good I’ve ordered them again and again on return visits.

I headed back for lunch the next day with an agenda: My nephew had yet to taste his first milkshake, and I hadn’t had a good tuna melt in months.

Lunch at the Comeback is served after 10 a.m. and comprises typical diner offerings: burgers, sandwiches and melts. I ordered a Cobb salad ($6.25), which was good, not great. My tuna melt ($4.95), however, was perfection on a plate. My nephew’s fish and chips were delicious, and despite his picky 2-year-old nature, he gobbled them up. His first taste of vanilla milkshake brought a huge smile to his face, and the left-over shake brought to the table in the metal mixing cup brought one to mine.

After raving to friends about the Comeback, I made several more trips up the hill. Pardon the intended pun, but I kept coming back to the sweet little diner.

Every meal was satisfying, and despite the restaurant’s often being packed with patrons, service was fast and efficient. While it isn’t open 24 hours and doesn’t serve breakfast all day, these are really the only things that could make the Comeback even better. (Well, a revolving pie rack would be cool, too.) Large portions for a nominal price should be expected at a diner; that’s kinda the whole point. But combined with friendly servers, excellent cooks and a charming atmosphere, this diner becomes exceptional.

I’d like to thank you, Comeback Diner, for the meals, the service and the nostalgia. It’s been a real pleasure, and I will surely be back.