Last Meal? Big Jim!

The Dishes: Watermelon Salad and Big Jim
The Place: Welcome Diner
The Location: 924 E Roosevelt St, Phoenix, AZ 85006 (602) 495-1111

By: Erica Cron

If you live in Arizona, or happen to pass through it for some reason, grabbing a meal at Welcome Diner should be number one on your to-do list. The vintage, 50’s themed diner is nestled under stringed lights in the Garfield neighborhood in Downtown Phoenix. The minute I stepped through the gate to enter the yard lined with tables outside of the small, metal 200 sq ft diner, I immediately felt at ease. The all-around friendly vibes of this place alone are worth the trip there, but the food makes it a must.

If I was allowed to pick any food on planet Earth for my last meal, without question, it would be Welcome Diner’s Big Jim sandwich. The ingredients of this southern inspired dish include a tender piece buttermilk battered chicken, peppery gravy, melted cheese, and thick slices of crispy bacon, all living harmoniously between two beautiful, flaky biscuits. When the sandwich was brought out, I had to stare at it for a few moments to take it in and devise my attack plan. I decided the best way to go about it was to just dig in. I couldn’t imagine eating it with the slightest bit of proper manners. Whether you are on the first date or with your significant other of 15 years, prepare to see another side of them-because you won’t be able to hold anything back while you’re inhaling this sandwich. It’s that good.

While talking to Wayne Coats, Welcome Diner’s general manager, I noticed the pure love for food the masterminds behind Welcome Diner have. The effort and love put into each dish induces feelings from a time in our lives when grandma whipped up something delicious with her natural talent for satisfying our tummies, which is not a coincidence. When I asked him where they get their inspiration from, he replied, “grandmas everywhere”. They are dedicated to a consistent, quality meal, not merely for the money, but because culinary exploration and excellence is their passion.

This is the level of devotion a restaurant has to have in order to create unique dishes like their watermelon salad. There are no traces of a traditional watermelon salad in Welcome’s rendition. The salad is made up of watermelon, tomato, arugula, onion, pickled watermelon rind, vinaigrette, and an herb and nut puree. One thing I didn’t really expect was the intensity of the flavors. If you are looking for something with delicate flavor-don’t try this, it is very bold. It’s like a pleasant little explosion of flavors for your taste buds.

The hours for the diner are 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. I was curious as to why they were only open at night, which Wayne explained to me was because, since most of their seating is outdoors, the summer months make it almost unbearable to be outside. Their nocturnal hours allow guests to enjoy their meals without passing out from heat exhaustion. The at-home feel of this place is perfect for a night out with a few good pals to have some great comfort food and a few drinks. As Wayne would say, at the Welcome Diner, “We eat good and we party hard.”

If you aren’t a night owl, but you still want to experience the culinary excellence of the Welcome team, check out Welcome Chicken and Donuts which is open for breakfast and lunch hours!

Keep doing what you are doing, Welcome Diner.


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