50's and 60's food and culture at Nate's Diner

By Joe Bennett

February 14, 2013 Updated Feb 14, 2013 at 9:46 PM CDT

NORMAL, Ill -- Along historic Route 66 in Normal, Nate's Diner resurrects the feel of roadhouse hamburger joints of the 50s and 60s.

The décor is for the baby boomers, but the location is for the college kids.

"Usually during Homecoming time, or during basketball or football games it can get kind of busy in here," admits owner, Nate Simpson.

Simpson opened the the restaurant near the ISU campus about two years ago.

"I love it," says ISU senior Stephanie Voorhees. "When me and my room mate walked in the first time, I mentioned how much I love the decorations and everything. I'm a huge Elvis fan, so seeing the pictures and everything up on the wall is really cool."

Nate's Diner is already known for a couple of area specialties, such as the Chubby Checker Double Decker or Grilled Chicken Sandwich.

"It's a good grilled chicken. It's freshly done, so that makes me real happy," says Marsha Max of Lexington. "Sometimes you just don't get as good when you go to other places."

Larry Foulk ordered the Big Texas Burger, a half-pound cheeseburger with bacon, grilled onions, onion rings, and roasted bell peppers.

Larry said it was very good and requires an appetite, since it is the size of Texas.

I had the Aloha Pulled Pork on the daily specials menu.

It's better than the average barbecue pork sandwich, as long as you like pineapple, roasted bell peppers, and pepper jack cheese.

It especially goes well with sweet potato fries.

Then again, what doesn't?

Our meals with soft drinks came to $18.72, plus tip.

And throw in an extra $6.56 for milk shakes, hand-made from real ice-cream.

"I really enjoy the era and kind of the feel of a 50s and 60s diner," says Simpson.

Nate's Diner is at 304 North Main Street in Normal.

They are open Mondays through Saturdays from 11 AM to 9 PM.