Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives

This trip, Guy’s roadtrippin’ all over the country for some home-style cooking. In Boston, the funky neighborhood joint cranking out Southern staples, like chicken and waffles and off-the-hook tots. In Carmel, Calif., Robert Irvine’s riding shotgun to check out the cool cafe centered around scratch-made classics, like amped-up biscuits and gravy and brisket chili. And in Superior, Wis., the sports bar scoring with classics like house-cured meat pizza and a super special chicken sandwich.

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Southern-inspired comfort food served in a highly evolved dive bar setting

Somerville’s Inman Square lies at the core of Boston’s hipster scene. Around here, it’s pretty difficult to pull off a cocktail bar or restaurant that keeps the regulars coming. Yet with its kitsch-infused ambience, thoughtful cocktail program, and decadent southern-inspired eats, Trina’s Starlite Lounge hits the mark and never goes out of style.

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TSL on Phantom Gourmet

Chicken and Waffles dripping with hot pepper syrup, old school mac and cheese topped with Ritz crackers, and a burger piled high with just about everything.

There’s only one place serving up food that looks and tastes that good: Trina’s Starlite Lounge, located on the Cambridge-Somerville line.

This laid-back neighborhood hangout specializes in soul-satisfying comfort food, and hand-crafted cocktails, at pocket friendly prices.

Entrees cost around $15, but lots of customers just order a bucket of beers, and snack on small plates like homemade barbecue sweet potato chips with French onion dip, fresh baked cornbread topped with sweet honey butter and thick-cut fries that can be ordered plain, topped with chili, or smothered with rich meaty gravy.

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Where the Fridge, Not the Bartender, Hands Out Advice

The first time I walked into Trina’s Starlite Lounge in Somerville, Massachusetts, I immediately noticed two things. One, that whoever owned this place shared my favorite style of decor: anti-minimalism. The other was a small fridge behind the bar covered in those clunky, colorful magnetic letters I used to get hooked on phonics back in grade school. Every day the fridge wisely spits out platitudes and life’s bittersweet truths for patrons to enjoy alongside their $4 ’Gansetts—things like “A job is more than a paycheck—it’s also a place where you cry in the bathroom”; “I have to plug my phone into the charger so much I basically have a landline again”; and, serving up some stone-cold nostalgia, “The year is 2015. Trap Queen is playing on the aux cord. Obama is President. Life is good.”

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Winner: Best Industry Hangout

For years, this intimate Inman Square hangout has been a bright beacon summoning service pros to its famous industry brunch on Mondays. It still shines. The retro, ’60s roadhouse-inspired decor has a vaguely rockabilly air, augmenting the cultish street cred of a spot where servers, cooks and bartenders—and interloping neighborhood hipsters—chow Cajun-style fried chicken and slurp carbonated cocktails when they’re finally off the clock.

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The Absolute Best Brunch in Boston

Brunch on Sunday and… Monday? We’re down, especially when they do a White Russian with chocolate milk. It’s a smorgasbord of low-fi deliciousness: the Pizza Bagel, the House-made Pop Tart, the Tex-Mex Lasagna. And that’s before you even attack the Fried Chicken & Buttermilk Waffles with hot pepper syrup. In other words, there are plenty of reasons to WFH at the start of the week.

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USA Today 10Best

Trina’s Starlite Lounge is a funky find that serves comfort food you’ll find yourself craving. Having received numerous local and national accolades for homestyle favorites like their fried chicken and hot dogs, you can be sure you’ll get a taste of home at Trina’s Starlite Lounge. A visit to Trina’s can be yours for brunch or dinner. In place of reservations, Trina’s offers walk-in only, allowing you to skip the planning ahead stage just like you would at home. Serving killer cocktails, Trina’s draws crowds to drink as well as eat. Stop into Trina’s for a chill night with friends enjoy good quality comfort food.

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From the decor to the drink menu to the people working behind the bar, Trina’s Starlite Lounge is a space where you feel more than welcome: You feel like family. The most (in)famous aspect of this hospitality-in-action manifesto is a weekly tradition that started roughly six months after Trina’s opened its doors in 2009 and that’s grown in size, volume, and good cheer ever since.

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2020 Best Dinner with a Mission

The Order: Chill out during a socially distant summer with the frozen whiskey smash ($12). It gets a hit of crème de cacao alongside the standard lemon and mint.

The Cause: Two bucks per drink—made with booze from a Black-female-run Tennessee distillery named for Nathan “Nearest” Green, an enslaved man who taught Jack Daniels whiskey making in the 1850s—goes to Black Lives Matter Boston.

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Nostalgia is one hell of a drug

It’s a thought that occurs every time we enter Trina’s Starlite Lounge, a delightfully weird proto-dive perched on a corner of Inman Square. From vintage signs advertising the cola and cigarettes of yesteryear to a reconstructed retro kitchen, the decor evokes a 1950s America that’s a little less Norman Rockwell and a bit more David Lynch.

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