Growler at Large Review: Deb’s Diner

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Laurel R.

Deb’s Diner

By Laurel R.

To set the scene…

Back in September of 2011, after selling our house in Victoria, BC, my husband and I flew to Windsor for a one-week whirlwind house-buying adventure in our soon-to-be new city.

During the days that followed the accepted offer on what was to become our next home, we were tasked with several responsibilities which included arranging for home insurance. After a couple of false starts I was able to find a local agent who was associated with our existing insurance provider, and we headed over to his office to make the necessary arrangements.

Cup of CoffeeIn the midst of the application process, the agent started having trouble with his computer program, and after a few minutes of irritation on his part, he suggested that since he had all the information he needed from us, rather than sit there and wait for him to sort it out we should go out for a coffee and return to his office in an hour or so.

Not yet knowing the city and its eating places, we assumed we’d end up at one of the ubiquitous Tim Hortons that dotted the landscape like the Starbucks that popped up on every corner back home in Victoria. Before we found a Tim’s, however, one of us spotted a diner not far from the insurance agent’s office and we decided to give it a try.

You know how sometimes the little decisions end up being the most significant?

Stumbling across Deb’s Diner was an act of serendipity.

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We were both pretty hungry and somewhat frustrated – we hadn’t eaten much (if anything) that day, which, combined with feeling as though we’d been chasing our tails all over town for the past few days, was quickly bringing us to a point of snapping crankiness.

As soon as we walked into Deb’s, however, things headed in a different direction.

The owner, Deb Smith (Head Cook & Bottle Washer, as her card declares), brought coffee to our table, and almost immediately my husband and she seemed to recognize each other as kindred spirits and started up a joky banter as if they’d known each other all their lives. The hour passed quickly as we enjoyed her wonderful coffee, delicious food, and sass, all served up in a warm and relaxing atmosphere.

It felt as though, in the midst of a strange new city, we’d found a home.

breakfastAfter we moved to Windsor, it was a couple of months before we made it back to Deb’s, but as soon as we walked in that front door we remembered why we loved it so much. In the weeks that followed a new Sunday brunch tradition began to emerge, and my husband and I have cherished this small slice of togetherness, chatting leisurely over breakfast, and getting to know our new friend Deb.

The food at Deb’s isn’t fancy, but it’s no greasy spoon fare, either. Their menu offers tasty, fresh, home-cooked, affordable diner dishes and creative daily specials, all prepared with love and served in a fun and unpretentious setting. Deb’s makes a great cup of coffee, and I am always amazed at how consistently delicious my preferred eggs-over-hard turn out! One of my other favourites at Deb’s is their homemade potato chips, and I rarely leave the restaurant without purchasing a bag of the crispy treats for later.

The Deb’s Diner motto, posted in the restaurant and printed on their cards, is, “When You’re Here You’re Home!” – and that has certainly been true for the two of us.

One day, shortly before we left and as things were slowing down prior to closing, someone at the next table brought out a guitar and started quietly playing “Mr. Bojangles,” upon which an impromptu singalong broke out among the people at his table. How weird and wonderful is that?! I couldn’t stop smiling, and my husband joined in with the group as they finished that song, then sang another, then another. At some point someone added spoons, then a harmonica, to the makeshift orchestra, and though the singing was at times off-key, the spirit of community was in perfect harmony.

We’ve moved across the country, but we’re home.

Deb’s Diner
1430 Ottawa Street

Have YOU visited Deb’s Diner?
Tell us about your experience!

Image (traditional breakfast) courtesy of dusky/
Image (club sandwich) courtesy of piyato/

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Kimberley
    February 17, 2013, 2:18 pm

    Sounds like a cute little place! Not surprised to hear it’s on Ottawa Street, either – that area is so full of charm. I wonder how their eggs Benedict is – my husband is a connoisseur when it comes to that particular breakfast item. I’m sure he’d jump at the opportunity to do a taste test. 🙂
    Kimberley recently posted… Lady Olenna Tyrell: most of my favourite people are fictional.My Profile

    • Laurel R.
      February 17, 2013, 2:22 pm

      Eggs Benedict has never been a favourite of mine (I know, I’m weird), so I’ve never tried them at Deb’s – but please do share the results of any taste tests if (WHEN!) you and your husband visit!

  • Peter R February 17, 2013, 5:56 pm

    I can vouch for everything said above about Deb’s Diner. To her and her partner it is a labour of love. She is a trained chef and employs a great bunch of folks who know how to make you feel homey.
    On those Sunday mornings when you don’t want to spend 35 bucks for brunch go to Deb’s and enjoy the banter and the food.
    Deb and I both suspect we were separated at birth as we have the same twisted sense of humour and the same love of good talk.

    • Laurel R.
      February 18, 2013, 11:06 am

      You two were definitely separated at birth, LOL!


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