My wife and I had wanted to try the Downtown Diner in Lakeland for a while. They are not open on weekends so it was difficult for us to find a weekday when we were both off work. Finally we were able to visit recently. The good news is that in October the diner will start opening on Saturdays also. So check their schedule if you want to go on a weekend.
I’m sorry to report that my interior photo of the restaurant was too blurry. But the restaurant was clean inside with a basic diner decor. When we first entered, the owner (we think?) seemed a little stand-offish but we felt completely welcome before it was over. Downtown Diner does serve breakfast, but we were there for lunch. The menu is classic diner fare. This was not long after Hurricane Irma disrupted the food supply and everything else in Polk County, and the owner apologized that they were still short on some menu items.
My wife ordered a bacon cheeseburger with fries. I ordered one of the specials of the day, country fried steak with 2 sides (I choose mashed potatoes and tater tots – my first choice, green beans, was one of the storm-affected items), all covered with “brown” gravy. Iced tea and Diet Coke to drink.
Our food was brought out promptly. A lot of dining out is about expectations. This was not gourmet food, but we weren’t expecting gourmet food. We expected good, basic, diner food at low prices. And that’s what we got. My tater tots looked very much like Ore-Ida tater tots, and that was fine with me. The gravy may have been out of a jar. At these prices we weren’t too concerned – it still tasted good. The country fried steak was quite delicious. My wife’s burger came with crispy bacon and generous tomato and lettuce toppings. After a while we started an interesting conversation with the owner about the impact of the hurricane and stagnating wages on small restaurants. He was currently without a server and was looking to hire one.
With tip our total came to only about $22. The Downtown Diner was a good experience and we would go back. I can see it being a pleasant place to sit with a newspaper (or tablet) over breakfast or lunch. The restaurant is in downtown Lakeland on West Main Street at North Missouri Avenue, just a block west of South Florida Avenue.
If we have inspired you to visit the Downtown Diner, or if you have already been and want to share your experience, please do so via the comments section below. And if you have Polk County restaurant tips, we would love to hear from you via our Contact Us page. Thanks for stopping by and happy eating!