I passed by the boarded-up remnants of the Doggie Diner today, the former Fatso Epicenter of San Francisco, CA. Despite what some conservatives would have you believe, the Sanctuary City is still, at its heart, an American city, and like all good Americans we embrace fatty foods as long as they don’t offset our dietary balance of tofu, radicchio, and granola. The Doggie Diner existed for many decades since 1949, built during the heyday of greasy American comfort food. Despite riding out various attempts at closure with the aid of its status as a historic landmark, and it wasn’t until recently when the pressures of exorbitant land rents and the changing state of the dining industry finally forced the iconic restaurant out of business. Nevertheless, the Doggie Diner lives on in the memories of San Franciscans as a symbol of a bygone era of American history and culture.
The Doggie Diner was situated right by the shore of Ocean Beach, adjacent to the scenic Great Highway and the San Francisco Zoo and easily visible from the road by a massive ceramic Weiner dog head wearing a chef’s hat. The exterior was unremarkable, just a nondescript square building with the word “CAROUSEL” painted over the door. The interior, however, revealed the Doggie Diner for what it truly was: a grimy, dubious dive that would cause most customers to fear for the integrity of the food being sold. Mildew-speckled tiles lined the walls, with the surfaces completely coated with a thin layer of residual grease from the kitchen. Strips of yellow fly paper were suspended from the ceiling of the dining area, each dotted with the carcasses of flies that were too stupid to avoid the adhesive surfaces. Children were kept entertained throughout the dining experience with the various trinket-vending machines and arcade consoles, each mechanical contraption decorated with greasy fingerprints left behind by grubby little child paws.
But enough about the ambiance of the dining establishment— this is FatQuest 2008, after all, and you’re reading this to find out about the fatty heart-stoppers that passed for food at the Doggie Diner. The diner sold all sorts of classic American foods, ranging from milkshakes, corn dogs, chili fries, and hamburgers. The worst item on the menu by far was the Double Bacon Western Cheeseburger. This culinary monstrosity consisted of two slabs of ground beef layered with slices of American cheese, decked out with hamburger vegetable accoutrement: pickles, onions, lettuce, and tomato. For the finishing touch, onion rings and strips of bacon were wedged into the tower of gluttony and slathered with barbeque sauce. The finished product was truly a sight to behold, a Frankenstinian stack of food dripping with grease and unable to even support its own weight.
I still remember the last time I went to the Doggie Diner before leaving for college, and in the four years of poor dietary choices I made while I attended the university, I never even came close to eating anything quite as terrible as that one notorious Doggie Diner Double Bacon Western Cheeseburger. The gruff Asian lady cashier announced my order when it was ready, uncouthly shouting out “Doublebaconwesterncheeseburgerwifstlawberrymilkshake!” at the top of her lungs. A brief silence descended on the diner— I could feel the eyes of the diner patrons judging me by the content of my gluttonous, decadent meal. I returned to my girlfriend with my meal in hand. She, being a vegetarian, took one look at it and warned me, “I’m not kissing you if you eat that… thing.” I remained unfazed by her Lysistrata inspired threat; I bought the burger and I was damn well going to enjoy it. With the jaw-unhinging skill of a python, I managed fit the length of the burger into my mouth for one solid, definitive bite.
The blending of the flavors of the American cheese and barbeque sauce, the textures of the breaded onion rings and juicy ground beef all mixed together into an epicurean orgasm in the mouth. I could feel my strained heart skip a beat, anticipating and dreading the inevitable flood of artery-clogging fat. It knew that I would not abandon my quest to consume that burger, not after that first hearty, indulgent bite. By the time I finished the burger, I gave up on all notion of making out with my girlfriend, but I was beyond caring. I consumed one of the most sinful dishes ever procured by man, and I survived.