READERS' PICK: From chocolate-chip pancakes to smoked salmon, Grill is one of Tucson's most diverse diners. If you haven't tried the mashed spuds, then you haven't tried the mashed spuds...and probably should sooner or later. They're good. You'll find a dutiful slew of old standbys (thick shakes, vanilla cokes, a top-sirloin burger with muenster cheese, BLTs, a curried chicken salad), but don't overlook the dinner specials. A flying waitress on a rocket and a chemist with a cup of coffee round out this unique Tucson eatery. Stop in whenever you're feeling empty. There's just as much atmosphere as food to sate you here -- and as the sign says, they're open later than you think.
READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: 5 & Diner, 4330 E. Broadway Blvd.; 4520 N. Stone Ave. (See Best Jukebox, page 17.)
MORE MANIA: Bread and Butter Café, 4231 E. 22nd St. A diner proves its mettle by the quality of its staple items, and none is more basic than the classic meal comprised of chicken-fried steak, mashed potatoes with gravy, and chocolate-cream pie. Judged by this standard, The Bread and Butter Café comes out on top in our book: steak so tender it requires no knife, real potatoes so creamy they practically slide off your fork, and towering chocolate cream pie (with the perfect, hard-to-find balance of chocolate bitterness and sugar sweetness) that screams to be savored. Also serving fine breakfasts, a slew of tasty lunch items, and various desserts, the Bread and Butter also excels in another area of diner mythology: the perfect bottomless cup of coffee. In an age when trendy cafés offer head-spinning varieties of coffee-cino-lattes, and charge for every refill, the Bread and Butter only offers a basic, classic cup of joe (eye-opening in both strength and flavor) that takes you back to a simpler time, before the advent of espresso, and keeps your cup filled to the rim...at no extra charge. Seek out this little-diner-that-could, and be reminded that some of life's greatest pleasures are simple, indeed (though not necessarily low in cholesterol).