I remember being young and realizing that everything that we could ever need was right in our little borough - a mall, an amusement park, plenty of restaurants, and even an airport. Going shopping someplace else was an excursion - Monroeville Mall was a treat, South Hills Village was like going to the high-end markets, and Ross Park...no one went to Ross Park (too many bridges to cross).
I've also mentioned that this is why I never went to restaurants other than chains, as the Century III Mall area was full of them - Applebee's, Chili's, Denny's, Bob Evans. Any national chain that you could think of was within 5 minutes of the area (yes, including Taco Bell).
Unfortunately, so many things have changed. Pretty much every Pittsburgher knows about the decline of Century III Mall, which is supposed to be changing now that Simon Malls no longer owns it. However, its assessments have declined DRAMATICALLY over the past several years, therefore cutting a deep hole into West Mifflin's tax base. In addition, P.J. Dick & Company pulled out of West Mifflin, along with many smaller businesses. I thought that it was devastating when the penny candy store behind my house closed when I was about 7 years old, but these businesses leaving our borough have done much to drain our financial resources.
This is why it is so important to patronize businesses in your own hometown - without stimulating your (very local) economy, it will only cause tax increases, program cuts in your town and school district, and overall business collapse. I know. I've seen it first hand from many angles.
Knowing this, I found it important to have my usual Sunday brunch at a West Mifflin business - and what better place to do so than the well-revered Hot Metal Diner.
|Hot Metal Diner|
Recently, Rick Sebak featured the diner in his PBS special, Breakfast Special 2: Revenge of the Omelettes (the segment can also be seen on the Hot Metal Diner's webpage as an In Pittsburgh special). I was happy to see something so local on TV, but I was surprised to see my 7th grade Science teacher (who is now retired) talking to the camera. Wow. Talk about keeping it local.
|A friendly warning as you enter|
|Counter seating with more humorous decor|
Luckily, the younger couple behind us had no problem co-habitating a table with us, so we sat at a table for 6, with this looming over the wall cut-out from the private room next door:
|The Chicken Creeper next door|
As we reviewed the extensive menu, the table to our right received their order - including a massive pancake. I had wondered why one single pancake a la carte would cost $3.00...well, this was definitely $3.00-worth of pancake! James and I decided to split one as an "appetizer":
|One pancake. Yes, one.|
For my "entree", I ordered the BB Breakfast (formerly known as "The Hog"): 2 eggs my way (over easy), home fries, bacon (my choice), and Italian toast. When the waitress took my order, she literally said, "homefriesItaliantoastsayyes", to which I replied, "I'm sorry?" and she repeated, "home-fries-Italian-toast-say-yes". How dare I say no (I wouldn't have any way!) The waitresses describe themselves as a bit "saucy"...but I wouldn't ask for extra sauce.
|BB Breakfast (aka "The Hog")|
It was a classic diner breakfast - not overpowering on flavor, but not by any means bland. Greasy - a bit, but I've had much greasier at Denny's (it IS breakfast, after all!). I don't know HOW they cook their bacon, but I wish I did, because it was crispy and AWESOME. The Italian toast was great for dipping into my egg yolks.
James decided to go the lunch-route and ordered the Best Burgher Ever with the whole kit and caboodle: bacon, cheese, onions, mushrooms, and BBQ sauce:
|Best Burgher Ever with the whole kit and caboodle|
While eating and still conversing with our table mates, Wendy, the owner, decided to play some music on the Touch Tunes machine to liven up the place. Well, heed this warning, which is at the register:
|It even says "True" in the top left corner...|
Do as I tell my high school students - follow the rules, and you'll be fine.
Hot Metal Diner
1025 Lebanon Rd.
West Mifflin, PA 15122