Montreal smoked meat sandwich on rye, with fries and coleslaw ($8.79), and a chocolate shake ($4.69).

Route 99 Diner
8820 – 99 St.
780-432-0968

Rating: ***1/2
Dinner for two with drinks: $35
Signature Dish: Bacon, cheese and mushroom Diner Burger ($9.39)
Signature Drink: Chocolate Milkshake ($4.69)

We didn’t stand out at Route 99. Among the bikers, church ladies, students and eco-folk that packed the ’50s-style diner, our suburban family of five merged seamlessly. I watched one calm server and one graceful line cook feed the crowd without losing their warm, friendly smiles.

For such an unpretentious spot, the menu was a lot longer than I expected, including full breakfasts, pizzas, salads and entrées. What really surprised me was that there wasn’t a price over $13 in the place.

My sandwich ($8.79) held a warm, moist mass of Montreal smoked meat between its toasted slabs of rye. I was equally pleased with the crisp fries, though the coleslaw was a little gooey for my taste. My milkshake ($4.69) – served in its stainless steel mixing can – was luxurious, velvety smooth and a chocoholic’s delight.

After such a feast, I was unable to consider the retro appeal of homemade pies turning in their glassed-in display cabinet. This is my only regret.

This inexpensive, unpretentious diner is not only exactly what it seems to be, it also serves up damn good food. Hold on to a piece of strawberry-rhubarb pie: I’ll be back.

See you there!

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