Restaurant Review: Truman’s Diner

Photos by Elizabeth Gelineau

It shouldn’t take long for a visitor to the new Truman’s Diner on Conception Street to sniff out the origin of the eatery’s name. His face adorns the logo on the front window, the doormat at the entrance and an enormous photograph on the back wall.

“Truman was a beagle,” says owner Bill Appling, smiling at the photo. “He had a really big personality, and he knew how to manipulate you to get the food he wanted.”

Downtown’s newest diner spot is a fitting tribute to Truman, Appling says. The fare is familiar and comfortable — think BLTs and half-pound burgers — and calls to mind the simple pleasures in life that a dog understands so well. Philly cheesesteaks, grilled chicken sandwiches and chicken salad round out the menu, and daily specials of fried chicken, meatloaf and poutine keep things interesting. “We’re doing food I grew up on, at a price point for the everyday person,” Appling says.

Appling, a seventh-generation Mobilian, grew up around the restaurant business and has always loved the diner concept. But visitors to Truman’s will not find a jukebox in the corner and checkerboard floors.

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“A lot of people forget about the roots of the 1950s diner. Truman’s is more of a 1920s or ‘30s diner, so it’s less encumbered by flashy design. It’s wholesome and simple — it’s here to serve a purpose.”

That’s not to say the restaurant lacks personality. Appling also owns Antique Emporium on Emogene Street, and the diner’s decor reflects this second passion. Maps of Mobile from 1925 help set the scene, as does an antique door, which came from one of the 25 long-abandoned rooms of the Hill Hotel upstairs. Natural light reflects off the glossy white walls, bathing the interior in a comforting, timeless glow.

“If I could put a screen door on the front and have it slap the doorframe every time, it’d be perfect,” Appling says. “It’s just that old kind of place.”

On the Menu

Philly Cheesesteak
The best-selling cheesesteak sandwich is tough to beat. Flavorful roast beef is topped with melted American cheese and slices of bell pepper and onion, all served on a warm hoagie roll.

Half-pound burger
Sirloin beef is mixed with pot roast brisket to create this one-of-a-kind, juicy patty. Add cheddar cheese, lettuce, fresh-cut tomato, red onion and a brioche bun, and this burger gets two paws up.

Truman’s B.L.T.
Juicy tomato, spring mint and crispy local bacon shine in this American diner classic. Served on your choice of toasted white bread or a croissant, this option fills you up without breaking the bank.

Lavender Honey Ice Cream
Made in collaboration with Cammie’s Old Dutch, this sensational lavender treat is made with Truman’s Diner’s original honey, from bees raised in Spanish Fort.

Truman’s Diner • 14 S Conception St. • 250-7446
11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Monday – Wednesday, 7:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. Thursday & Friday, 10 a.m.– 2 p.m. Sunday

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