Nestled in between a doughnut shop and a Mongolian restaurant, Terry’s Diner has been serving up good food for Eugene residents for many years. When the diner first opened, it was known as Whitey’s Cafe. The ownership has changed a couple of times throughout the years and the latest owners of the diner have kept the name.
Terry’s Diner doesn’t look amazing on the outside, in fact, it’s fairly plain. Visitors are greeted by the Oregon Duck and a painted window boasting the fact that breakfast is served all day, for $4.99. But as you enter the diner, you know why it is so “Eugene.”
The carpeting is old, but clean. Booths, tables and bar seating completes the iconic diner appearance, making it reminiscent of the 50s diner fashion. It sounds rather ordinary, so what makes Terry’s Diner so unique?
Terry’s Diner doesn’t only serve up good food that is hot and in large portions. They have displays of antiques from ceiling to floor. An antique accordian sits on an old wooden shelf above the tables. A classic bike hangs from the ceiling, along with an old table and chairs dining set. Walls in the back part of the diner are painted a bright orange-red, making a bright canvas for the album covers such as, “Elton John’s Greatest Hits,” “Badfinger” and “Grease.”
The waitresses and waiters greet you with friendly smiles. Once seated, the fun begins. Newspaper ads from the 50s and 60s give visitors the chance to know how the “Jolly Green Giant” says “ho-ho-ho” to the vegetables he produces. How do we keep up with the Jones’? We purchase a Buick, of course! Another ad boasts about inflatable swimming pools that entertain children and adults through the summer heat, even though they are only the size of a tire.
I have never sat in a booth at Terry’s Diner and not been properly entertained. The old, rusty rocket that used to give children rides outside the five and dime stores is now attached to the wall inside of the diner. As a regular, I have spent countless hours reading the old newspaper ads, gazing at the antiques and playing the triangular shaped peg-game that reminds me of elementary school days. Terry’s Diner is like an eatery and museum all in one.
The food is hot when it arrives. I have tasted various entrees from the menu, from breakfast items down to simple appetizers. One of my favorite appetizer choices are the onion rings. Terry’s cuts up onions and fries them up with a yummy flavored breading. The burgers are huge, hot and filled with all the ingredients you expect to come with a burger – lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle and cheese.
Prices at Terry’s Diner are fairly low. I love the country fried steak breakfast, which is normally around $8.99. The meal comes with country fried steak, smothered in country gravy, hashbrowns, eggs and toast. The cook never leaves an inch of plate uncovered!
Chicken alfredo is one of my favorites and Terry’s Diner doesn’t let me down. The alfredo sauce is plentiful. The chicken is well-done and the pasta is served just right.
The food has increased in popularity, since the new owner’s have taken over. I used to eat at Whitey’s Cafe when I was in high school. A group of us would order milkshakes and burgers during our lunch hour and so set the memory of the little diner in the strip mall. The food was good, served well and didn’t cost an arm and leg. As years passed, the diner became obscure, as different owners attempted various methods to make the diner work. It was an epic fail.
Residents who have grown up in Eugene wanted the home-cooked meals they grew to love when the diner first opened under the name of Whitey’s Cafe. The latest owners are attempting to bring back the elements that made the diner popular in the first place. In my opinion, they are doing a great job at doing so.
Terry’s Diner is located in a small strip mall at the corner of River Road and Division.