Where do I go for gluten-free Southern-style comfort food in my hometown? Where would I take out-of-town guests for a meal with a distinctly regional vibe? The Village Diner.
Where: The Village Diner, 600 W. King St, Hillsborough, North Carolina 27278
GF Menu: No.
What I ate: On separate visits, I have enjoyed the braised beef, a pork chop on pureed sweet potatoes, and a bun-less bacon and pimento cheese burger with home fries (which was the daily special, and I was so enamored of it, I forgot to photograph it).
I would have loved to have ordered a homemade dessert here. I have a hunch they would do it exceedingly well, but unfortunately for me, the restaurant has not offered any GF dessert options.
How to order it: The specials on the chalkboard change daily, and the paper menu is likely to change seasonally. Ask your server to help you identify which options are gluten-free or can be modified.
What it looks like:
Braised beef in veal sauce with carrots, celery, and chives on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes. The meat was so tender, I was able to enjoy this entire dish with a spoon.
Pan-seared to perfection, this thick bone-in pork chop had a glaze that was both sweet and salty. It was savory enough to compliment the impossibly fluffy sweet potatoes heaped underneath. The server gave me a good steak knife for the sake of decorum, but I still picked this chop up and chewed it right off the bone. I couldn’t help it. The texture and flavor brought out the barbarian in me.
Among the options for side dishes was collard greens with chow-chow. Never having tasted these ingredients together before, I naturally wanted to try it. The result was delicious! Lots of folks add vinegar to their collards, so this combination tasted familiar, but with a refreshing twist. Now, I make sure to order this every time I visit.
Green Note: When you walk in The Village Diner, you may notice the pared-down, bare-bones interior. Their focus is on the food. It’s comfortable, favoring simplicity. The light fixtures are made from recycled glass mason jars. The tables look as if they were made of re-purposed wood.
The to-go box (pictured below) is made from compostable/recyclable material rather than styrofoam. Also, there are no napkin dispensers on the tables, reducing the amount of paper waste the restaurant and its customers may produce.
The Village Diner is connecting with local farmers to help source their ingredients. When I visited, the collards came from Cane Creek Farm in Saxapahaw, NC, and the eggs came from Latta’s Egg Ranch, located in Hillsborough, just a few miles from the restaurant.