Swingers Diner in Santa Monica has the allure of an archetypal 50’s diner and shares many of the clichés too, but there are also some novelties present as well. This past Saturday my partner and I experienced a little of the past, and more of the present, at Swingers on Broadway in Santa Monica, for an early dinner.
Like its sister location in Hollywood, Swingers takes the traditional and adds some unique flavors to make it very 21st century, and I am not referring only to the food.
The décor is a time traveler’s heaven, with cute stars and stripes hearts on one wall, a historical motorcycle stunt spread in the center, and a wall painted bright yellow with psychedelic mauve cows heads punctuating the background, that had me if wondering some hallucinogenic substance had founds its way into my bottled water earlier that afternoon. Sadly, I mean thankfully, not! Throw in the tartan patterned seats and I think you’ll get my drift.
The menu is classic diner with some contemporary and international options thrown in to cater for the modern, slightly more sophisticated palette. Tofu Sauté (tofu, mushrooms, broccoli, snow peas and carrots, sautéed with quinoa, red cabbage, ginger, garlic, flavored with a squeeze of fresh orange and served with a small salad, $9.25) and Grilled Jamaican Jerk Chicken (boneless, skinless breast marinated in Jamaican spices, served with black beans, fried plantain and a side of your choice, $ 10.95) were just a couple of said choices.
But we were in a diner so diner food it was to be, albeit with a nod to twenty-first century compromise. Burgers were the order of the day, for my partner the Turkey Swiss Burger (a 100 percent lean, ground patty, flame-grilled with Swiss cheese and served with red leaf lettuce, fresh tomato, red onion and mayonnaise on a toasted wheat bun, $8.25), and for me the Veggie version (homemade, dairy free patty of barley, brown rice, lentils, mushrooms, tofu and fresh herbs, on a wheat bun with grilled onions, lettuce, tomato and tofu mayo, $7.95). The choice of included sides available were French fries, small salad, corn salad, cup of soup, mashed potatoes, steamed or sautéed spinach, or steamed broccoli. We both chose the salad option.
Service was hip and energetic, with our server Damon being more of a streetwise entertainer rather than a seasoned waiter from the Dino era. He took our orders quickly and efficiently, with a certain, shall we say, Bronx-esque aplomb.
When the dishes arrived they were generous and hot, with the burgers being served open faced, displaying the patties, cheese, lettuce and tomato in their entire shiny splendor.
I delicately sliced a piece of veggie patty with my knife and fork, slowly raised it to my mouth, and tasted it. It was good, with a smoky flavor that added a change from the usual veggie patties that I have sampled. But, what was I thinking? “This is a diner for, crying out loud,” I said to myself, and hastily slapped some mustard and ketchup on the burger, slammed the other half of the bun on top, grabbed it with both paws and proceeded to consume it in what can only be described as a gastronomic jihad. Now, that’s how to eat a burger in a diner! My partner, Dale, also enjoyed her turkey version that she described as “juicy and tasty.”
After being well and truly satisfied by the burgers, I felt an extra treat was needed, and so ordered their Brownie Sundae (warm brownie, topped with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and drizzled with chocolate syrup, $4.95) that I thought we would share.
It arrived looking like a dieter’s nightmare, big, bright and oh so sweet! We tucked in and immediately became addicted. It was fantastic, it was delicious, it was decadent, and it was gone in less than a minute.
Swingers is a fine diner where you can eat traditional fare or choose some healthy options and then spoil it with a gluttonous dessert. We did, why don’t you.
Swingers, 802 Broadway