In North Florida Exit 262 off I-10 presents you with two choices. You can drive into the bustling town of Lee, population 352, or head towards Jimmie’s Truck Plaza that is home to a 24-hour diner attached to a convenience store. I chose for the second option and pulled into the parking lot of the Red Onion Grill. It was early afternoon and the parking lot was largely empty. From the outside the diner looked a bit sketchy, and I had no idea what to expect as I walked towards the entrance.
The Red Onion Grill is charmingly dated and I made my way to the lunch counter at the back. Six shiny metal stools stood in front of a well worn counter. A smiling waitress came up and handed me a menu. I ordered a coke and checked out the items offered by the Red Onion. It is a classic truck stop diner and offers old standbys such as burgers, chili, and meat loaf. I decided to get a cheese burger with a side of fries. While waiting for my food I listened to the two waitresses gossip about life in rural North Florida.
Minutes later the burger arrived in a red plastic basket lined with red and white checkered paper. An old fashioned hand patted patty sat between a bun grilled bun topped with a slice of yellow American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo and ketchup. I took a bite of the burger. It was cooked well but still was juicy. The toasted bun held up well to the weight of the fillings. It was very good no nonsense burger. The French fries were of the crinkle cut variety from a bag. They were piping hot and well seasoned.
Finishing my burger a trucker came into the diner and sat on the stool next to me. Without hesitation he ordered the cheese burger and then eyed a piece of ten layer chocolate cake. He ordered a slice and as the waitress was preparing to cover the remaining slice with a glass dome I told her I would take it. She asked if I wanted it on a new plate and I told her not to worry. I asked where the cake was made and was told they were all made by a woman who lived up the road in Pinetta.
The cake was moist and the frosting tasted like it was out of a can. It did not matter, because the ten layers of goodness reminded me of a cake from my childhood. There was nothing fancy about it and I liked it. I also liked that I got the last piece of cake because it allowed me to scrape the remaining frosting off the plate. By the time I was finished I was full and happy.
From the outside I was not sure about the Red Onion Grill, but after eating lunch there I am a fan. If you ever find yourself travelling on I-10 with a craving for classic truck stop fare I recommend you check out the Red Onion Grill.
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