I’m going to throw this out there: Route 22 out of Monroeville is not an especially scenic stretch of road. As my wife (who has to drive it almost weekly for work now) can attest, it’s primarily a dreary slog of stoplights, strip clubs, and car dealerships. Ugh, it’s not even alliterative in its grotesquery.
But there are a couple of bright spots on Rte. 22, places that have caught Fox’s eye and inspired some curiosity as she has driven past — namely, two diners named Dick’s and Dean’s. Being superfans of diner food, rolling way deeper than that HACK, Guy Fieri, we decided to make the drive to each diner on successive days and compare their strengths and weaknesses.
I opted for the corned beef hash and eggs with dry rye toast. Normally I stick to over easy, but the menu recommended poached eggs, so I took the tip to heart and ordered that way. The dish also came with a slice of pickled apple.
We had our food within another five minutes, ate up, and then took a little time to peruse the highly-recommended pie menu for a to-go slice. We chose the bumble-berry pie, which is a mixture of blueberry, peach, and cherry.
So how did the two stack up against one another? Well, overall sit-down time was faster at Dick’s, so if you’re in a rush that’s a big plus. The comparative closeness of Dick’s is another upvote for the place. However, Dick’s is only open 6:30am – 10pm, so the fact that Dean’s is open all hours of the night is an advantage; it’s nice to know you’ve got a spot where you can go grab some fried eggs and pancakes at 3am that isn’t a chain. Dick’s is a little nicer-looking, but we can’t unequivocally call that “better,” as sometimes, you want that old-timey Dean’s Diner feel with a drop-ceiling and well-trod carpet. The coffee was fresh in both locations, and frequently refilled, and both of our servers were great. Fox liked that her meal came with a juice at Dick’s, and the sausage at Dick’s was a winner. Meanwhile, the home fries at Dean’s were decisively better. The corned beef hash had a nice bit of crispiness at both places, and mixed very well with the egg yolk. At Dean’s, we got a nifty three-jar jelly server at the table for our toast, rather than packets, which was a nice touch.
As you can see, at this point we’re in something of a stalemate. So, as it is written by the Gospel of Chopped, it all comes down to the dessert round. And here…
…I’ve got to give the edge to Dick’s. Their bumble-berry pie absolutely lives up to the hype, with transcendent freshness, texture, and flavor. (It did get a little mashed in transit, but hey, what’re you gonna do?)
And so here is our advice: if you’re looking for coffee and breakfast, Dick’s and Dean’s are a toss-up. If you’re looking for coffee and pie? No question; Dick’s it is!