Phantom Gourmet Review

MaryBeth Shanahan is a constant blur of efficient activity. She knows just about every customer by name and can always serve up a side of sass when necessary.

This is a typical day at the Dream Diner in Tyngsboro. Friendly faces filling up on delicious diner fare, surrounded by a 50's feel. And it's all brought together by a woman who is part Betty Boop, part Rosie the Riveter, and always putting her customers first.

MaryBeth Shanahan: Owner, Dream Diner: "I'd say 95% of the customers we know by name. We actually even know what they eat, whether they have Sweet and Low, or black coffee, or how they drink their coffee, or if they don't drink coffee they have tea or juice. Like Ralph next door to me here, he's a tea drinker."

The personal attention keeps customers coming back again, and again, and again.

MaryBeth Shanahan: Owner, Dream Diner: "We have one couple, Rena and Jerry Simmons, they're from Dunstable, they've been coming in since the day we opened, seven days a week, and he comes back for lunch. So we call him the Mayor of the Diner."

Jerry Simmons – "Mayor" of the Diner: "I've been coming here everyday since the day they opened. It's close to home and the personality of the people, I just keep coming back."

In fact, Jerry even has his own parking spot.

Jerry Simmons – "Mayor" of the Diner: "Yeah, right there, where that Crown Vic is. That's my car, that's my spot."

Of course the food at the Dream Diner is what really hits the spot. The Cinnamon Roll is a super sugary-sweet way to start any meal. And while it's big enough to satisfy the average appetite, customers can't stop there. An order of Ham and Eggs is simple, and sensational.

MaryBeth Shanahan – Owner, Dream Diner: "A lot of places use the deli ham, the thin ham. We actually buy the whole ham, we bake it, and we cut it right off the bone, we carve it off the bone."

There are sweet potato pancakes, delicious on their own, but even better when smothered in syrup. The menu lists three dozen omelets, each named after a diner manufacturer. The Worcester is filled with ham, broccoli, mushrooms, and cheese. The Valentine bursts with taco meat, salsa, onions, and cheddar cheese. Lunch is also available, with specialties like the Greek Burger.

MaryBeth Shanahan – Owner, Dream Diner: "Our Greek Burgers are a nice, thick burger, made with spinach and feta cheese, made into a patty. And we sell a lot of them."

The chicken potpie is a colossal crock of chicken and gravy topped with a puff pastry and served with a side of homemade mashed potatoes. For dessert, nothing says nostalgia better than a chocolatey, creamy, whoopee pie.

Everything is made fresh, with a lot of care and a little extra love. It's a recipe that's hard to find now that Route 66 is not much more than a memory. But there are a few places where the spirit of the Fifties is alive and well, like at the Dream Diner, a Phantom Gourmet… Hidden Jewel.