Update: As of March 2012, P & C Diner has closed. There’s a “Now Renting” sign up on the front, so we’ll keep you posted.
If there’s one thing we love about living in Saline County, it’s that there’s a lot of great places to choose from for good Southern cooking. A lot of these places are easy to miss when you’re passing through, but if you talk to the folks that have spent any time here, they’ll tell you where to find the good stuff. That’s how we first tried P & C Diner in Bryant – a coworker of mine had nothing but good things to say about the food, especially the barbecue. It had been awhile since we had eaten good barbecue, so we decided to head down to P & C and see what the fuss was about.
On our first trip to the diner, we were met with a something that I took as both a disappointment and a good sign: they were all sold out of barbecue. I figured it must be pretty good if they were sold out, and contented myself with one of my all-time favorites, a patty melt. The P & C patty melt was as basic as it gets: a thick, juicy patty of flavorful ground beef between two pieces of buttered Texas toast with grilled onions and American cheese. Basic, but perfectly made and utterly delicious. It’s the onions that make or break a patty melt for me, and these were diced medium-small and cooked soft and lightly carmelized on the grill. It might not have been what I came in wanting, but I was very happy with it.
Jess’ order was just as basic as it comes, too: a hamburger with fresh lettuce, tomato, and onion with an order of Cajun fries; and again, simple meant perfect. The burger was cooked very well in that way that only a big, industrial strength diner griddle can seem to make them: charred just a touch on the outside and screamingly hot and juicy on the inside. Her Cajun fries (and my regular flavor fries) were cooked crisp with a good, mealy texture inside. And since both of our sandwiches, fries, and drinks came to just under $15.00, we really felt like we got a deal.
But what about the barbecue? We decided that the best way to go about it was for Jess to grab some one afternoon before they had a chance to sell out and bring it home for supper. We got the “Family Pack” pulled pork, a monstrous helping of smoky shredded pork with two sides (in our case, barbecue beans and cole slaw), plus two types of barbecue sauce (a tangy mild sauce and a red-pepper-spiked hot variety). The pork was just as good as we had been told, moist and tender with a rich smoked flavor. I love pulled pork with sauce on the side because it lets you pick how wet or how dry you want your sandwich. The pork didn’t have one bit of fat or gristle to it, which to me shows that a good bit of care went into its preparation. The beans and slaw were decent, but not spectacular – but honestly, with pork this good, they really didn’t need to be. You could easily feed a family of four off of this, and all for about $18.00. For us, that means two excellent meals, and I don’t think I could even cook myself something this tasty for that cheap.
My best tip for you is to get to P & C Diner early – because this barbecue is seriously good and it’s no surprise they regularly sell out. Even if they do, though, the burgers and sandwiches are all made fresh to order and so you won’t lack for something tasty to eat. It’s one of the most reasonably priced places I’ve eaten at in the area, and they serve food just the way we like: hot and fresh, cooked to order and served up humbly but with an obvious pride of ownership. This is one of those places that I passed by for a couple of years before I ever thought to try it: if you’re doing the same, take my word for it and give the place a try. P & C Diner is located at 302 South Reynolds Road in Bryant (just after you go over the train tracks overpass), and they’re open seven days a week from 11:00am – 7:00pm. They’ve got a small dining area inside, or you can pick your order up through the drive through. Enjoy!