A trip to the vintage 1950’s D. Nalley’s diner, 970 S. 3rd Street, is a trip back in time. The place practically force-feeds its customers huge, steaming plates of retro Americana as soon as they walk in the door, which dings, by the way, as any true fifties diner door should.
The stools at the faux-wood countertop – like the red vinyl booths, Formica tabletops, kitchen equipment and just about everything else – are original to the establishment.
Much of the wait staff is original, too. When I asked about the restaurant’s history, one waitress recited every detail – from personal experience. She’s worked there since 1951, another waitress told me.
D. Nalley’s opened in 1967. But its history starts over a decade prior, when the little building on 3rd Street was owned by T.C. Turner.
Much like his successor, Turner ran the place as a diner, complete with wait staff, kitchen personnel and an enterprising young dishwasher named Darrel Nalley, who would eventually buy Turner out.
The menu has stayed pretty much the same since D. Nalley’s opened in the sixties, but more importantly, so have the prices. The most expensive thing on the menu is an $8.95 10-ounce T-bone steak. That’s right. Steak.
The restaurant serves up mostly traditional diner fare, all of it homemade. There are burgers, soups and sandwiches, in addition to the heartier, more substantial diner mainstays like pork chops and fried chicken.
My only complaint is the dishes are a little salt-heavy. But it’s a diner. Salt, grease, butter and a whole cornucopia of other tasty but artery-clogging ingredients should be expected.
If you’re at all health conscious, I’ll save you the trouble – D. Nalley’s is definitely not the place for you.
However, if you’re more interested in flavor than whether or not you live past 60, you should check out the breakfast menu. They serve it all day, and no matter what you pick, you really can’t go wrong.
They also serves grits, omelets, pancakes, biscuits and gravy. I haven’t had the heart to break it to my Grammy yet, but the biscuits here could go toe-to-toe with hers, any day.
Credit cards are a D. Nalley’s no-no. In true fifties fashion, business is done in cash and cash only.
D’Nalley’s is open 6 a.m.-8 p.m. on weekdays, and 6 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturdays. D. Nalley’s is closed on Sundays.
Photos: Erin Standridge/The Louisville Cardinal