The Red Arrow Diner, Manchester NH

(Honeymoon flashback: In July 2009, Marie and I took a road trip up to Montreal and back, enjoying some really terrific meals over our ten-day expedition. I’ve selected some of those great restaurants, and, once per month, we’ll tell you about them.)

We spent our fourth evening of the trip at a Super 8 in White Plains Junction, Vermont. The goal, as we left that state, had been to get as close as we could to Manchester, the largest city in the northernmost three New England states, and have breakfast at the Red Arrow Diner. It took this long on the trip to turn up some of the restaurants featured in the first bookshelf collection of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. I read about this place and knew that I wanted to visit.

The Red Arrow Diner originally opened in 1922 but it has changed hands quite a few times over the years. Currently owned by Carol Sheehan, the joint has a huge following of traveling foodies and late night guests, all of whom are looking for some awesome greasy spoon atmosphere and some really interesting items on the menu. Marie had pie for breakfast and I had a plate of what they call American chop suey, a big, heavy dish of pasta in a tomato sauce that probably wasn’t screaming out for me to eat it at 8 in the morning.

Somehow, I got the insane idea that, because it was breakfast time, I really needed to have a glass of orange juice with that. You know what would have been better? Any beverage. Anything.

Another specialty at Red Arrow are the Dinah Fingers, which are homemade Twinkies. If you’ve tried to eat a Twinkie in the last decade, you might have noticed that they don’t taste like Twinkies anymore, but some noxious concoction of chemical sludge. Dinah Fingers taste like you remember Twinkies tasting when you were a kid. We took a couple for the road, and they were really yummy.

We also got to overhear the most amazing conversation next to us, when the two locals with whom we were talking about Georgia greeted an old friend they’d not seen since he went to prison for killing a guy. So the three of them talked about life in “the joint” – they genuinely called it that – and the buck an hour he’d been earning in the prison library. Eventually I had to interrupt them to say that this was surely the finest conversation I’d ever overheard strangers having.

Thoroughly stuffed and pleased, we went outside to take some more pictures, and the Red Arrow’s owner, Ms. Sheehan, who was backing out on her way to some meeting, stopped to say hello and take one of us. That’s one thing we picked up from this trip: the restaurants featured on Guy Fieri’s show and tie-in book have had a tremendous, carry-on boom in business, and they certainly repay that with some fantastic hospitality.

Red Arrow Diner on Urbanspoon

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