Lori’s Diner – Chowder and Chicken Fingers Make Sense After Midnight

lori's diner, san francisco, ca - chicken tenders
LAX to SFO, no. 5

There are a few foods that you just shouldn’t order if you’re older than, say, eight. If you happen to eat it in the privacy of your own kitchen by the sole light of your open refrigerator, in the middle of the night when everyone else is asleep, that’s a different story. But in public, these certain things should be left for single-digit aged people:

Spaghetti-O’s.

Macaroni and cheese with sliced hot dogs.

Any sort of food that is shaped like an animal, even if it is the animal from which it came. Examples of this are Octodogs, Dino-nuggets (which Mom bought frozen from Costco once and gave me last year), and cow-shaped cheese.

Chicken fingers.

*sigh* Chicken fingers. First of all, though chickens do have fingers, and people do eat the chicken fingers, what is commonly served as “chicken fingers” are not chicken fingers. They don’t even look like fingers, unless someone has some grossly disfigured and obese fingers. But that is beside the point.

The point is, why does a restaurant have to call them “chicken fingers?” Especially a restaurant that stays open 24 hours, or at least until the wee hours of the morning, when they know that no eight year old in her right mind would be in there pointing at the menu and saying “Mommy, I want da chikkin fingerth!” Why would a restaurant call them chicken fingers and force adults to order them as “chicken fingers?” That is cruel.
Of course, when it’s after midnight, after a long night of Cox, after dancing and sweating and drinking like a technofish, it does not matter what you eat, nor what it is called. At such times, even nachos piled with nothing but shredded Soul-Glo afro neon cheese are gourmet grub. At such times, they could be called Clucky Chikkin Chuckles, and I would have looked the waiter straight in the eye and said “I’d like an order of Clucky Chikkin Chuckles with a double side of Rah Rah Ranch dressing and Honey I Shrunk the Mustard. Thank you.”

lori's diner, san francisco, ca - neon sign
like a beacon in the foggy night
lori's diner, san francisco, ca - open 24 hours
if it were closed, i wouldn’t be hungry

We weren’t necessarily looking for a place to eat when we saw the neon glowing in the distance. We stumbled upon Lori’s Diner (and I use “stumbled” in the most textbook form of the word) on our brisk walk back to the hotel from Ruby Skye. The evening had been fueled by light tapas at 5:00, one order of fancy French fries shared by a number of people, and mostly liquid. Liquid diets without an additional VitaBoost and shot of wheeatgrass don’t provide that much energy. When we saw that Lori’s was open, my after-midnight gremlin hunger rumbled from within.

Lori’s Diner is all dressed up like a retro ’50s diner, complete with “bar” seating on vinyl topped stools, checkerboard flooring, neon, and a jukebox. When we walked in, we didn’t notice that is was particularly unsanitary, but there were a few unsavory characters, one with his nappy-haired head down on the table. For some reason, standards for hygiene seem to drop a few notches after midnight.

lori's diner, san francisco, ca
after midnight, just as good as campbell’s!

We took a seat in the booth, and though the diner was less than a quarter full, the service was noticeably slow. We ordered the the Clucky Chikkin Chuckles (not what they’re really called) and a cup of Lori’s Soup of the Day. I wasn’t naive, thinking I might be able to get a steaming bowl of fiery hot yook-gae-jahng (this is San Francisco), but I was hoping that the Soup du Jour might at least be something brothy. Unfortunately, it was clam chowder. Thick. Viscous. Totally not the right pairing with chicken fingers, but there were no other soups available. Really now, they don’t make that stuff from scratch. *wink* Couldn’t they just open up a can of Cambell’s back there in the kitchen? *wink wink* The waiter looked at me.

It was the soup du jour Lori’s way, or the highway.

The chicken fingers were fine. The soup was fine. In fact, with several hard spanks on a bottle of Tabasco, I might even say that the soup was good. I might.

But I might not.

Lori’s Diner
336 Mason Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
415.392.8646

www.lorisdiner.com

** a year ago today, a rosé by any other name is still pink wine **

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  • peachiee

    I think I walked by on near Union Square. The menu didn’t impress me so I moved on. Next time try Shalimar for some good spicy hole-in-the-wall Tandoori. :)

  • KT

    Yikes! I only ate there once and then, never again. Too bad you didn’t stumble upon Osha Thai, that would have been much better, with spicy and clear soup options. I am sure there is some kind of Pho place around there, too. I would even recommend the crazily decorated Cafe Mason over Lori’s Diner if only because their vegetable quesadilla is late night food that is not also instant death as it appeared to actually be made with fresh vegetables when I ate it.

  • sarah

    peach: indian food after clubbing sounds a little too…awesome! lol! wonder if there’s any 24 hour indian in LA…

    kt: hm, the strange thing is i don’t even recall seeing any other places that were open around the time we were walking back from the club to the hotel. that’s what happens when everything is sport of on the fly.

    but next time, i will make a point to remember some places in teh area :)

  • KT

    There probably weren’t any other places on your way back … there are plenty of places open late in that area, but (1) most of them are gross, and (2) most of them are back toward the Tenderloin rather than right around Union Square. You would, unfortunately have to plan ahead to get a good post-club meal. I think I most of the time ended up going to Mel’s Diner because it was on my way home. Not much better than Lori’s.

  • KT

    There probably weren’t any other places on your way back … there are plenty of places open late in that area, but (1) most of them are gross, and (2) most of them are back toward the Tenderloin rather than right around Union Square. You would, unfortunately have to plan ahead to get a good post-club meal. I think I most of the time ended up going to Mel’s Diner because it was on my way home. Not much better than Lori’s.

  • sarah

    kt: mel’s. yes. i try to stay away from mel’s as much as possible. between many a late night there durin college in the bay area, then many a late night there during post-college stupidity in LA…let’s just say it does not have overwhelmingly great memories!

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