24 January 2017

[Out122ndWay] Goodbye, Tina's Corner: The Very Last Day Of A Very Good Diner

I come to you today, my friends, in something of a state of mourning. I lovely place has been, and now, a lovely place is no more.

I'm speaking of a little family-run diner that I've spoken of before. Tina's Corner, at SE 122nd Avenue and Harold Street, has permanently closed.

Tina's Corner, the diner

It sits, a smallish blue building with five big picture windows in the north face, on a lot that seems rather large for it. Inside, despite the perspective the camera gives it, it's actually kinda small.

The bathrooms were nigh-microscopic.

Against those picture windows, six rather spacious booths. next to that, a counter with six stools. In the back, free-standing tables … a handful of two-tops that could be slid together and a couple of six-tops.

It was always busy, but never overwelmed. But this was different. We were there on the 21st of January and, after the 22nd of January, after eighteen years of making locals damnably happy, Tina's Corner was to close, permanently.

This was, for me, the very last day of a very good diner.

Foreground: Paying the bill.
Background: the archetypical diner kitchen. For real.

There was nothing fancy, haughty, or elite about it. It was come-as-you-are dining of the kind you used to find all over Portland. It was charming and quaint, decorated a little like your grandma's house. And it felt like it, too.

Festooning the walls were skilfully-done graphite-on-bristol portraits of people, taken from photographs. They always were delightful, and the artist was presumably available for hire.

Goodbye, on the edit. 
The windowsills along those picture windows held the most adorable batch of knickknacks, and there you were, back in your grandma's kitchen again. Little bears holding up skillets that said TODAY'S MENU on them. Those little bobbly things that ran on solar power. Happy little animals and kitchen things. 

On each table was a tray with an embarrassment of condiments: three kinds of hot sauce (Tapatio, green and red Tabasco), little jam and jelly packets, salt and pepper. The reason I thought Tina's Corner was a li'l ol' slice of heaven, was this:
The taco omelette that argued there is a God,
and God wants us to be happy.

There was a lot of regulars saying goodbye that night, and I was saying goodbye to this. The Tina's Corner taco omelette. This took me back to the days of Quality Pie on NW 23rd. And it amazes me that more breakfast places don't have it. Seasoned ground beef, cheese, a bit of salsa (this time, not), cheese. But just try finding one. Now, there's one less place. The taco omelette pictured above, of course, was superb. The hash browns were ideal, that moist, pillowy mass of fried and shredded potato that is so very satifying.

I did not go away from this hungry. I am melancholy; there will never, likely, be another one like it in my life (my waistline may thank me for that, but my soul will be a bit harder to satisfy).

The most interesting customers were a family behind us in the very last booth before the wall. At one of the six-tops, four Portland Police officers were taking a break and celebrating the one-last-meal at Tina's; the kids in the booth were big face of Portland's Finest, and the supervisor who brought up the rear greeted the kids though the window, and were rewarded with one of those Jr. Cop badge stickers the police give out.

What I liked the most, outside of the simple, sincere fare was the feeling of sitting there. You didn't feel like you were in outer Southeast Portland so much as you did you were at a roadside diner on some highway going into the mountains. It's right on the edge of town, right on the edge of forest. Just a little north of Foster Road, where the wilderness (or at least what passes as such, within the Portland city limits) take up. You feel way out on the edge but you aren't so far out, not really. But the view was unsurpassed.

It's said that the new property is going to be yet another in the interminable march of marijuana shops that seem to be springing up in more places that are absolutely necessary. No longer will area pot-smokers have to make the harrowing trek all the way to just north of Division on 122nd. I mean, it's probably all they could do to get there without getting dysentery.

But, Tina's Corner is gone, now, and we shall miss it.

Maybe it's time to get round to the Gateway Breakfast House. I mean, if it's good enough for Presiden Obama …

1 comment:

Suze said...

Ed and I used to eat there when we lived on 106th.It -was- very good grub. I will miss it even though I hadn't been there in 6 years.

We ate there before Tina, and I hope there will be another good restaurant there soon.