We usually try to be pretty health-conscious—we’re not getting any younger, after all. When we do stray into the grease pit, however, we take a pill that miraculously sucks the fat out of our bodies while we sleep, or we strap our recalled Abdominizer around our waist and wait for the smell of burning pork. We’re not very bright. But we can’t afford liposuction, either.
For the most part, we try to fill our mealtimes with shrimpy salads and low-cal dressings and diet sodas and MSG-free chicken things—but all is for naught when we spy a maroon and chiffon yellow checked diner with a glowing neon chef’s hat sign. That makes us suddenly feel as if, just like those kids back in 1951, we, too, can eat a pound of chili cheese fries and a double cheeseburger and work off the extra calories at the record hop. But Judy and Tommy didn’t end up with three tabs of Alka-Seltzer and night sweats afterward. Damn that Judy.
Still, The Hat SoCal eatery chain must be included on your life itinerary—and when you go, go for the gusto. While we’d never ever felt the urge to pack our intestines with pastrami, we did so for this piece, swallowing half of The Hat’s World Famous Pastrami Dip, a foreboding mountain of salty meat and pickles. Since we had no frame of reference for pastrami, and it seemed to taste pretty good, we made sure we ate it seated next to a Pastramiseur—yes, a highly trained pastrami eater—who confirmed that the sandwich, indeed, ruled.
We also ordered the chili cheese fries—a plate of spuds (a entire papersack, if ordered to go), cheddar and chili the size of a Frisbee—and their heaping twin, “Wet Fries,” which is the same size but with gravy over the top. Yeah, we were like “gravy?!” at first too, then realized that potatoes and gravy go together like, um, saur and kraut, or something like that. While the wet fries were way too good for our own good, the steak sandwich was way sad. Dry, thinly cut beef (we don’t want to know from what part of the cow or how long it had been hanging there), with nothing spectacular on the bun except lettuce and a tomato slice. We needed cheese, Mr. Hat. We needed special sauce; we needed a lot of diet soda to force it all down!
You can have other diner-style staples at The Hat, too—burgers, dogs, onion rings—but the one thing they don’t have, and we wish they did, are those little gals on roller skates and tight shorts zipping through the parking lot clipping our tray of wet fries onto our car window ledge. We’ll probably just have to settle for a clogged artery on that one—but a girl can still dream.
The Hat, 857 N. Central Ave., Upland, (909) 949-4607; www.thehat.com. Mon.–Sat., 9–1AM; Sun., 10-1AM