Florida's oldest diner is not a pretty sight. No one climbing up its steps would be surprised to learn it's been around since 1932. It looks it. Its garish awnings, dating from the 1960's, most likely, add nothing to its aura. The diner even sits in Florida's joke town, Palatka, cousin to Peoria. That said, be sure to stop here when in the area.
If you're a homemade onion ring fan, that is. Family and friends likely are weary of hearing me ask at eatery after eatery--”Are your onion rings made here, by any chance? From actual fresh cut onions? With a flaky batter?” The typical eagerly apologetic “No, but they're really good!” does not cut it with me.
There is no frozen onion ring on the planet worth eating, people.
The Palatka diner rings are so fresh, thick, golden and flaky, so perfectly dunked and then drained in hot veggie oil, there is no icky, soggy residue when they are served up hot, sweet and perfect.
Our party of 4, which had stopped just to stick our heads in the diner and move on, ordered two servings and ate them both right then and there, standing up at the counter. “ Just like at HoJo's in the olden days,” I said. Affirmative shakes of heads.
It's Angel's Diner, Palatka, Reid Street. Inland just a tad from St. Augustine.