Pop Diner is a Big Bust

Closing time: You don't have to go home, but don't go here.

It's 2:30 in the morning at some bar in Uptown, and as you drag a ballpoint pen across a credit card slip, feeling the grain of the bar beneath, you become aware of a rumbling from within. It's impossible not to be hungry. Most bars close their kitchens down by midnight, but they'll gladly sell you booze for hours longer. And as you step out the door and count your options (most of which involve tacos), you realize your situation is grim. You're stranded in a late-night food desert.

The announcement that Pop Diner was coming was welcome. Not only was the West Village getting a diner that stayed open around the clock, it was getting one with a little extra ... flair. The walls were painted in bright red and adorned with a tapestry of decades-old music stars and artists, with a few pixilated Lichtenstein prints of distressed dames mixed in. A small collection of arcade games lines the back wall under a massive screen that plays the video from Warrant's "Cherry Pie." And because you so desperately need to extol the virtues of your meal in song, you can do just that on Thursday evenings, when the dining room is filled with the tone-deaf expulsions of drunken karaoke.

It's not all bad. During a visit a few weeks ago, one guy pulled off a competent "Forgot About Dre," verbal acrobatics and all. The rest of it sounded exactly like what you'd expect from a karaoke party in a mostly empty restaurant at 1:30 a.m. Not that it matters if you're as drunk as everyone else. And besides, you came to eat, and Eat Good, according to the T-shirts worn by the waitstaff.

Don't try it. Not even when drunk.
Catherine Downes
Don't try it. Not even when drunk.
Catherine Downes

Location Info

Map

Pop Diner

3600 McKinney Ave.
Dallas, TX 75204

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: East Dallas & Lakewood

Details

Pop Diner

3600 McKinney Ave., 214-599-8980, popdinerusa.com. $$

Short stack with eggs and bacon $8.98

Corned beef hash $7.99

Nacho fries $9.99

All American $7.49

Reuben $11.99

The slogan is peppered throughout the menu and a website for the restaurant, teasing that Pop Diner might actually bring some meaningful food to the table. There's even a nod to fresh and local ingredients and partnerships with local farms. You start to picture a perfect sandwich filled with tender slices of juicy, corned pasture-raised beef, omelets made with farm-fresh eggs and salads brimming with vibrant, peppery greens when restaurants claim such things. Unfortunately, Pop serves up quirky diner riffs that taste like they came from a college cafeteria. In fact it's surprising how hard it is to even eat decently here.

French fries topped like nachos could work. Pat Snuffer built a greasy little Snuffer's empire on spuds topped with a motorcycle helmet of cheddar, bacon and jalapeños. Pop takes them further, adding ground beef, tomatoes, black olives, salsa and sour cream for a riff on Tex-Mex big enough to pummel a table of four. You must eat quickly — those fries will only get soggier.

A cheesesteak might have been decent if the bread used to make it could hold the mess together. The mass of melted cheese, rib-eye steak, lettuce and Thousand Island dressing overwhelmed the soft white roll, reducing the sandwich to a pile of ingredients that looks like you may feel tomorrow morning. A Reuben holds up better, but that's only because it's so dry. The sandwich touts plenty of corned beef, but it eats like sawdust, while sauerkraut adds no texture and little flavor. Still, it's edible, which is more than can be said for what is one of the worst burgers in Dallas.

Across the menu, dishes are described as containing all natural ingredients. The description, of course, has no real meaning. While the FDA regulates some food terms like organic, "all natural" can be applied to anything. It's the culinary equivalent of hipster: overused and without value. Chickens raised in poultry houses with no light, sparse ventilation and dead companions can be labeled all-natural these days, so you might wonder what you're biting into when your teeth sink through two all natural beef patties on the American, double meat, double cheese.

All natural? Surely nature, which gave us the Grand Canyon, the majestic redwood and Penelope Cruz can do better than this dry, flavorless, ugly burger. Add a salad filled with lettuce leaves ready for the compost bin, and you'll wish you had enough cash on hand to tuck under your plate and politely leave.

Breakfast is awakened with surprisingly good coffee, but the temporary pleasure is muted the second your corned beef hash arrives. The potatoes are new, if still unimpressive, but the beef is the same presliced deli cuts that were stacked on that swayback Reuben. It's the wrong cut for this dish, and while poached eggs are almost always ugly, it's hard not to notice that this pair looks particularly sad. The eggs weep pale yellow yolks when you pierce them with your fork.

The pancakes are as sweet as funnel cakes, so go light with the syrup on your short stack, but masochists are welcome to add chocolate chips if they really want to make their dentists smile. And the rest of the breakfast food is what you'd expect from a bad diner. The scrambled eggs are dry, the bacon likewise and the toast barely toasted.

After last call, when copious amounts of alcohol have stripped you of your senses and left you only with your desires for bad food and sex, you might find solace in the pleather booths of Pop. The food isn't terribly expensive and the room is filled with youthful boozehounds who aren't ready to go home after the last bar told them to. But when the sun comes up and you've regained your senses, the luster will surely fade. You should have taken a cab to Denny's.

 
My Voice Nation Help
95 comments
sandman98
sandman98

I've been there and have to agree - food is below average and the schtick is a little strange for the Uptown crowd.  The positive comments on here are all so similar - appears to be coming from ownership, employees, friends, family, etc.  Have to feel for people who invest so much into getting a restaurant off the ground - it has to be tough to see negative reviews like Scott's and the (unbiased) negative comments below it.  

Good opportunity for the owners to take stock of where things stand to make the necessary adjustments - a negative review in the DO won't kill your business, but a poorly targeted concept and bad food certainly will.

Mervis_Earl
Mervis_Earl

The lady doth protest too much, me thinks.

lzippitydoo
lzippitydoo

Thanks for the warning - wont even try the place! Sounds like you have to be out of it to go there just wanting to put some junk food in the system at 3am! There are better places to go for a cleanse diet!

whocareswhatithink
whocareswhatithink

It sounds like you ate the food at 2am...did you also write the review at 2am?....a better review would have been eating the food at 2am AND 2pm and comparing them...not trashing some place's food when you had been out at a bar previously drinking. If you write a review, you owe them the decency to be 100% sober before you at least walk in the door....and Im not even a fan of the place, but fair is fair.

CapGuy
CapGuy

Never had the burger but the Greek Salad is about the best there is, along with the Chicago Dog. 

Service is pretty cool too!!!!!

dallasoriginal
dallasoriginal

I'm tired of idiots like this telling me what I should eat ! I ate at BURGER HOUSE which is supposed to be a great burger ! LMFAO ! The burgers at the Burger House and Maple Street Burgers are the two worst Burgers in Dallas !  Burger House taste like pure salt ..no flavor at all but salt and Maple Streets burger is mushy from the over wet slimy chopped pickles ! I think you missed it on this one !

dallasoriginal
dallasoriginal

Scott you should be sued ..You're full of S$%T ! I have  eaten at Pop Diner on several occasions and enjoyed it every time ! Your review is out of ignorance and it seems like your upset about something other than a burger ! Joseph there is one of the managers and he would got to the ends of the earth to make everything good for you ! The Menu may not be in a children's format so maybe that was  your real problem ! I don't think you have the brains or the talent to decide what is or isn't good food ! Maybe your just accustomed to a drive thru sandwich at the Jack n The Box !  Stick to your mailer coupons at eat at places that are more on your level !  

MSam
MSam

I've been to Pop Diners 2 times now and will never ever go back. The food is just plain awful. It's immature, flavorless, sloppy and seemingly cooked by a kid.

I don't always agree with Scott's reviews, but he's 100% spot-on with this one. The place sucks. I live nearby off Lower Greenville and still looking to find a late-night/24 hour spot to make up for Metro Diner's closing.

Amazingly, this place is so much like BuzzBrews. Shtick-y concept and branding, goofy menu, "wacky" items "fun" crap all over the place. I can't believe a new place would actually be so similar to another shitty place, less than a mile away.

I don't understand what is so difficult about opening a straight-up diner with real food? You can get cute here and there, but play the damn thing straight. Being open 24 hours and being located in a cool neighborhood is your "branding". Serving good food should be your "concept".

The phony reviews on here only add to the lameness of the place.

romeolipschitz
romeolipschitz

One of the worst? Possibly. But they would have to piss on their burgers to compete with the horror of having a burger at Urban Eatz in Richardson!

steadfastmom
steadfastmom

Generally, I just disregard anyone who tries so hard to be clever and has to so "eloquently insult" absolutely every aspect of something .  Seems I was right to do so here.  I think I may go check this place out.


beda50
beda50

It's good to see how the owners of Pop Diner marshaled their friends/family to post here.  Scott's reviews usually have less than 3 comments, so the high number makes me highly suspicious of the legitimacy of the majority of these commenters. 

"Who died and made him a food critic?"  That's usually not how it works, Trina Taki Hendrix-Hamilton.  Scott is a paid employee with DO, hired to review restaurants.  That appears to be what he did.  The time of day MAY have had something to do with his criticism of the food, but it is his opinion. ( I personally would have gone a couple times more at different times of the day.) 

sassydavida5
sassydavida5

Dennys? LMFAO. These people obviously have no idea what they're talking about. I ate there recently and had their fish and chips which were the best I've had in Dallas hands down. This place is awesome and so I DON'T UNDERSTAND why the hate is on for this place. There are so many places including dennys that can't hang. My mom is a regular for their weekend brunch and turned me on to this place and all I gotta say is thank God pop diner is on the scene. Their servers are probably the nicest around and make you feel welcome which takes the badass vibe of this place to another level. Love it Love it Love it!  

anonemaus
anonemaus

Ugh. I ate their two weeks ago. It was terrible. I had a grilled ham and cheese--there was very little cheese, the bread was halfway to stale, and the ham was cold and slimy. 

It was revolting, and I will never go back. Frankly, the Observer is going easy on this dump. Denny's is better. 

swyles
swyles

I've had Pop Diner on several occasions, late night mostly, and they have yet to disappoint. IF you read that article, you wasted your time.

swyles
swyles

I've had Pop Diner on several occasions, late night mostly, and they have yet to disappoint. IF you read that article, you wasted your time.

nicolainthebigd
nicolainthebigd

Scott, Shame on you. I was just at pop diner earlier and had one of the best burgers I've had and it's funny because i always get their naani's but opted for a triple crown burger with a founders IPA. When i got home i was tellin my girl how i was at pop diner earlier and she told me one of her co-workers told her how she read it was a bust and i was like what is she talking about. So I read your review & the way you made it sound is so bogus dude. I'll be sure to bring my girl next time so she can taste what real diner food is about. You owe these guys an apology because their food is awesome and you and your peeps need to stick to dennys because thats what you deserve. This drunk will stick to pops!

MattL11
MattL11

Scott, this review cracked me up. Nice one. Even the drunk deserve better. 

ajm62584
ajm62584

smothered in sausage gravy peaked my interest and taste buds. I replaced my so called under toasted with a single pancake that WOWED me. I've tried pancakes at many places claiming to have the best... Now way. POP DINER or bust.

ajm62584
ajm62584

I'm not sure who scott reitz is but he is obviously either misinformed my his constituents (ie not going to this diner himself) or ignorant to north eastern style diners. I had the pleasure of meeting a fellow Detroit native when I went to this upbeat, upscale diner. He explained his concept before I had a chance to dine and it made me even more excited to not only know that the concept was based from Detroit style diners, but also as he was walking away through a crowd of controlled chaos he exclaimed that certain menu items are imported from Detroit!!! I mediately began to thumb through the short yet detailed menu. I found an extensive list of coneys that claimed to be Detroit chili style coneys. I ordered one just for starters and it was a full flavored taste of home. The hot dog had casing on it to provide a perfect snap as the chili finished this dancing dog into my wonderful reminder of Home. In between my appetizer and meal I had a wonderfully prepared margarita. I picked up my menu, that my server so politely asked if they could remove for me, and began searching for something that wouldn't clash with my already perfect coney dog..... I tried the BBQ burger which came with onion petals bacon and cheddar cheese. I'm not sure which taste bud mr reitz is lacking but this was a full bodied juicy burger with endless flavor that stuck with me even after my late night "encounter". Since my visit pop diner has been serving up my diner favorites which are in the breakfast category. A 3 egg omelet

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

Snookie's serves food till 2:00am. I recommend the burgers, nachos and chicken fried steak.

Osvaldo Garcia
Osvaldo Garcia

The observer is killing it's reputation through Facebook.

joshjelosi
joshjelosi

Myrna and all, "POP DINER IS A BLAST"  I've eaten there breakfast lunch and latenight and never had a bad meal. Now let me clear some of this crap up: The cheesesteak w the thousand island is my favorite and its called a rays classic. Its their version of a big mac but philly style, I'm honestly shocked that people don't get it. The corned beef is to die for and the burgers are amazing so I really don't know how this dbag can talk smack about great product. Did I mention that their omeletes are the best around? Now you know.
The author really needs to get educated or find another trade because he is a hater, just look at his other stuff. Maybe he wants a tofu burger with all the liberal trimmings but he best go else where for that. This is a real deal diner folks. I have been there a dozen times and it is SOLID. The servers are friendly and everyone gets down and does their thing. My hat is off to the pop diner crew. Shame on you haters, yall don't know good food, so stick to dennys.
Pop diner= Great food, great prices,  great Diner;  flat-out!

Jordan Michel
Jordan Michel

Have you people been to pop diner? It really is terrible.

scott.reitz
scott.reitz moderator

@whocareswhatithink I care what you think because you're wrong. I visited the place three times. 1 a.m. on a Thursday, around 6 p.m on a random week day, and also once in the morning for breakfast. The food never once approached anything that resembled good, and the farm to table references on the website are insulting.

dallasoriginal
dallasoriginal

To me it sounds like someone wouldn't buy ad space  in your wanna be  paper and you took revenge !

dallasoriginal
dallasoriginal

@MSam did you notice the art is POP ART on the walls and is nothing really like buzz brews ? Were  you drunk ?  Dallas is not there only store  ! they had their concept down way before Buzz Brews did !

joe.tone
joe.tone moderator

@beda50 Thanks for your comment, beda. Scott eats at each restaurant at least twice, and at different times. 

anonemaus
anonemaus

@sassydavida5 I have a real hard time believing that. Unless those were the only fish and chips you've had in Dallas. I suppose that might be the case. Is that the case, sassydavida5?

MikeInDallas
MikeInDallas

Really, ajm62584, a Detroit inspired diner?! Having been born in Detroit and as one who fondly remembers the great Motown years there, I must take issue with your description of a chili dog as being representative of "Detroit." Oh, You could find a damn good chili dog in the original "Big D" but you can find those at any place in the country where tube steaks are boiled, grilled, or roll endlessly on stainless steel rollers. It's not a real "Detroit thing, no matter if some 1900s hole-in-the-wall storefronts in downtown desperate for attention may have wanted to claim the title of "Detroit's Original Chili-Dog!" (Though the style invented in Detroit did become a regional classic.)

To be inspired by the (sadly former) great spirit of Detroit, Pop Diner needs to feature Vernor's Ginger Ale, Sander's dessert toppings (mmm, Milk Chocolate Hot Fudge!), Bumpy Cake, Stroh's beer, Faygo soda pop, and Better Made potato chips (sadly, an emerging company called Lay's bought Detroit's great New Era potato chip company back in the '60s and shut 'em down; many still believe New Era taught Lay's how to make chips properly). To do Detroit even prouder, bring back Silvercup bread! And Detroit's Italian immigrants DID invent the square deep-dish pizza, BTW.

If all Pop Diner offers as their "Detroit inspiration" is chili slopped on a hot dog, Detroit is in far more desperate shape than anyone could have imagined from a distant 40 years ago.

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

Very high praise, so high it rises to that of a shill.

dallasoriginal
dallasoriginal

@Jordan Michel actually it's not ! So you must not have been there !

nd68
nd68

@popartistrobb And a typo in your reply. It's typo not type o, like a blood type. Relax on the exclamation points, too. Geez. 

nd68
nd68

@popartistrobb Sounds like you have stock in this place. Personally, I've never been steered wrong by Observer reviews. They tend to know their food. 

Sharon_Moreanus
Sharon_Moreanus topcommenter

It's a brand new concept for them and thier first location for it.

Otherwise they have steakhouses and Italian restaurants in Michigan.

ajm62584
ajm62584

Again, mikeindallas the concept is based from Detroit natives (true), some of the food is imported from Detroit (true), and the style in which some of the food is prepared is Detroit based (true) so for future referece when you begin to refute someone's argument attack key points that you can shit down, not truths that you begin to try and understand. Now Scott reitz has no taste buds for this type of food and your argument is weak who's next?

anonemaus
anonemaus

@sassydavida5 @anonemaus No, it's really not relative. Some things are objectively bad. 


Try the Blackfriar or the Idle Rich for good fish and chips. 

MikeInDallas
MikeInDallas

Um... ajm62584, are you off your meds? Your response to my comments seem to lack a certain coherence. I understand a diet based on junky food can lead to such embarrassing public behavior...

 
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