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First Impressions: Pop Diner in Dallas

Posted 11:03pm on Saturday, Feb. 09, 2013

Popped into Pop Diner, the new 24-hour joint that just opened a couple of days ago in Uptown's West Village, right next to Max's Wine Dive. Wasn't sure what to expect as it's been described as a "Detroit style, Coney Island joint/80s bar" (per Thrillist) and, unless there's something that involves chrome, carburetors, or Eminem, I have no idea what "Detroit style" means. Granted, Pop was the brainchild of Detroit native Nik Gjonaj but, in terms of food, I'm stumped to think of anything Motown specific. But, whatever, it's about time there were more late night/early morning options to stuff your face in this town.

The good news is the place has promise. The 80s theme -- Billie Jean and Take My Breath Away on the sound system and posters of Madonna and Prince on the walls -- is kind of gimmicky fun though it would be way cooler if they used at least one of the giant screen TVs to show old music videos instead of whatever game happens to be on at the time. And it would be even more fun if some of the '80s choices were just a little less obvious though they probably figured no one these days is going to recognize a poster of Aztec Camera, Terence Trent D'Arby, or The The so just go with what people know.

There's a bar running down the north side of the room (which serves such drinks as a Pop Rocks martini) and the bright colors everywhere really make the space, er, pop.

The menu is pretty big, filled with the expected breakfast items (pancakes, waffles, omelettes and lunch/dinner options (burgers, chili, salads). But then there are others which at least have vaguely poetic names: the Dirty Bird Melt (Grilled chicken breast, bacon, jack cheese, Thousand Island on grilled marbled rye bread, $9.99) or the Dinty Moore (corned beef, coleslaw, swiss cheese, Thousand Island on grilled marbled rye, $11.99).

I opted for something from their "naani" menu -- these are sort of wraps or pita sandwiches made with naan instead of pita or tortilla. Apparently, they are a big deal in Detroit. The original naani ($7.99) takes diced chicken tenders, mayo, lettuce, and stuffs it inside a thick wedge of naan. It wasn't bad but a little flavorless. I don't think I'd get it again. While the crunch of the chicken and the softness of the naan provided a nice texture, I would have preferred it with grilled chicken instead.

On the other hand, my friend thought his black bean burger (with jack cheese, salsa, mayo, lettuce, $7.99) was one of the best he has had.

Service was a bit spotty as it took awhile to get the check (and the bill came without a pen which delayed things ever more). And the place isn't huge so I can imagine it getting packed with long wait times as the night wears on.

Overall, a mixed bag but I'm curious enough to give it another try after they've had more time to smooth out the rough spots.

Pop Diner is located 3600 McKinney Avenue, Dallas.

Cary Darling, 817-390-7571

Twitter: carydar

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