By Becky Billingsley
Wednesday, July 18, 2012, Myrtle Beach - Joe Miller and Robin Marden are back slinging their specials at Joe's Diner by the Airport.
Previously the pair had Joe and Robin's Kitchen at 3544 Northgate Dr., by Coastal Pet Supply in the Socastee area of Myrtle Beach. That restaurant closed in 2010, but now they've reopened a short distance away at 2895 Fred Nash Blvd., just south of the Myrtle Beach International Airport off U.S. 17 Bypass.
Breakfasts and lunches are served Mondays through Fridays in the remodeled space with robin's egg blue walls and white trim. Booths and tables are on both sides of a half-high wall that splits Joe's Diner down the middle, and at the rear is a long counter with high-backed bar stools.
My son noticed something odd when we sat down: all the tables had salt shakers filled with blue or green granules. I shook some out on my hand and licked, and it tasted like salt. A server confirmed it is sea salt tinted with food coloring.
All tables have a plastic child's beach bucket containing peanuts, and a plastic bowl for the shells.
We were there for lunch, and while a menu listing soups, salads and sandwiches ($1.35-$5.15) is available with choices like Philly Cheese Steak and house-made Tuna or Chicken Salad, we wanted the meat-and-three special.
That's called the Hungry Special, where you get to choose from a list of meats and choose three side dishes. The deal is $6, and it also comes with a cornbread muffin or roll. There's also a Not So Hungry Special for $5 that includes two sides, or for the same price you can forgo the meat and get four sides. For an extra buck your drink is included.
Meat choices are Teriyaki Chicken, Liver and Onions, Smoked Sausage, Stew Beef, Hamburger Steak or Fried Chicken.
Sides include Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Taters 'n' Onions, Rice and Gravy, Fries, Green Beans, Stewed Tomatoes, Corn on the Cob, Potato Salad, Macaroni Salad, Pickled Beets, Cole Slaw, Sliced Tomatoes, Cucumber Salad, Pineapple Salad, Cottage Cheese, Side Salad, Cup of Soup and Banana Pudding.
My son went for the fried chicken - white meat - and he was given a breast and a wing, which he doused in the Texas Pete that was on the table and said it was delicious. He also loved his mashed potatoes, which he said were the real deal with potato chunks in them, and his corn, which looked like a frozen niblet but had been dipped in butter and was tasty. He was too full to finish his third side, green beans, which were also buttery.
My liver and onions was fine, although I think they'd be a little better if a small dollop of gravy had been on the plate. My bad - I should have ordered rice and gravy as one of my sides.
A few extra side dishes were listed on a chalkboard, so I tried field peas, which were cooked with green beans and bacon and had a delightful creamy texture. I also enjoyed cabbage, which was cut into bite-size pieces, contained bits of ham and had a mellow flavor.
Fresh tomato slices was my third side, and they were large and juicy. About the cornbread muffin - it was sweet but not overly so, and the corn flavor came through in its almost cake-like texture.
Our bill was $15 and change, and I took half my lunch home, plus my son's green beans.
Joe's Diner also has many breakfast choices, like Three Egg Omelets ($4.55-$5.95, comes with grits or hashbrowns and toast or biscuit); Pancakes, French Toast, egg plates with meat and pancakes for $3.75-$5.25; and Breakfast Sandwiches.
Biscuit Specials include Grumps Country Benedict, where a split biscuit is topped with sausage, eggs and country gravy; good old Biscuit and Gravy; or you can get a biscuit filled with fried bologna, country ham or smoked sausage.
A few more house breakfast specials include Corned Beef Hash, Country Fried Steak with gravy and Pork Chops.
I would definitely return to Joe's Diner by the Airport. The food is tasty, prices are affordable and staff members are all super-friendly. But be sure to take cash, because they don't yet accept plastic.
Joe's Diner by the Airport is at 2895 Fred Nash Blvd. in Myrtle Beach, and the number is (843) 294-5637. It's open from 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.