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Laurel Diner

544 Main St. S., Southbury, CT - (203) 264-8218
Posted By Michael Stern on 4/26/2011 3:51:00 PM
Adjacent to an auto service station called Corrigan Motors, the Laurel Diner is a sixty-plus-year-old hash house with a row of counter seats that provide a view of the grill and six tables lined up opposite the counter. It opens seven days a week at 5:30; and by mid-morning, sections of Connecticut’s daily papers are strewn almost everywhere, providing easy-reach reading no matter where you sit. The menu is written daily in marking pens directly on the diner’s wall, which is a white, easy-wipe surface that helps give the vintage dining room an airy feel.

Many customers don't pay much attention to the menu at breakfast time, because there is one and only one dish they want to know about: corned beef hash. This is the real thing, a coarse-cut melange of spicy beef shreds and nuggets of potato cooked on the griddle until a web of crust begins to envelop the tender insides. If you ask, the grill man will cook the hash until it is brittle crisp nearly all the way through, which is a great idea if textural excitement supercedes succulence in your hierarchy of culinary pleasure; but we personally enjoy it the regular way: forkfuls of corned beef that are brick-red and moist, their pickly zest balanced perfectly by the soft pieces of potato. On the side come crunchy hash brown potatoes or home fries, and atop the hash are served eggs as you like them. It is a royally good diner breakfast, for the very common price of five dollars, including toast and coffee, and all the local newspapers you can read.

Beyond the exalted hash, we have enjoyed excellent kielbasa-and-egg breakfasts, and the pancakes are pretty darn good, too. Some people come for a large cinnamon roll, which gets buttered and grilled to super lusciousness.

At lunch, the menu is worth looking at, although we seldom get anything other than a hamburger. Laurel’s burgers are nothing like fast-food burgers; they are thick, hand-formed patties, cooked to order, and fairly spurting juice at first bite. Other worthy lunch items are the hearty all-beef (no bean) chili, made with thick hunks of hamburger meat and available with melted cheese and/or raw onion slivers on top, and a fine fat length of kielbasa with peppers on a hard roll.

If you’re hungry and also need an oil change, call ahead to Corrigan Motors and make an appointment. Your vehicle can be in and out in thirty minutes, which is about as long as it takes to order and enjoy breakfast next door. The service station number is 203-264-9100.

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Corned Beef Hash
Home Fried Potatoes
Hash Brown Potatoes
cheeseburger
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

The Laurel diner doesn't use leftovers.  Their corned beef is cooked strictly to make hash.
"The Laurel diner doesn't use leftovers. Their corned beef is cooked strictly to make hash."
Michael Stern





French toast is so good with fresh fruit (bananas or strawberries) and whipped cream on top.
"French toast is so good with fresh fruit (bananas or strawberries) and whipped cream on top."
foodlover


This close view of Laurel Diner hash browns gives a good idea of how crusty they get on the grill. There are soft shreds of potato, too: a perfect textural balance.
"This close view of Laurel Diner hash browns gives a good idea of how crusty they get on the grill. There are soft shreds of potato, too: a perfect textural balance."
Michael Stern


Although we prefer the crunch of hash browns, these hunky home fries are not to be dissed.
"Although we prefer the crunch of hash browns, these hunky home fries are not to be dissed. "
Michael Stern


Pete flashes a smile as he commands over the griddle.
"Pete flashes a smile as he commands over the griddle. "
Mark Kaupe


It's great to sit at the Laurel Diner counter and watch these two guys cook eggs, potatoes and pig meat and assemble breakfasts at lightning speed.
"It's great to sit at the Laurel Diner counter and watch these two guys cook eggs, potatoes and pig meat and assemble breakfasts at lightning speed."
Michael Stern


There is a printed menu, but highlights are written in marker on signs and on the diner's white walls.
"There is a printed menu, but highlights are written in marker on signs and on the diner's white walls."
Michael Stern


The Laurel Diner interior is minimal: counter and a few booths.
"The Laurel Diner interior is minimal: counter and a few booths."
Michael Stern


A locals' favorite since 1949.
"A locals' favorite since 1949."
Michael Stern


Blink as you drive past and you might miss it.
"Blink as you drive past and you might miss it."
Michael Stern



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