Rating: 5 Stars
Trying to escape from the cold in the outskirts of Bangor, Maine, I stepped into a seemingly- ordinary, local diner. Surprised as I took in my surroundings, I wondered how this small place full of charm has gone unnoticed by the University of Maine community.
Located on the highly trafficked Union Street, the simplistic exterior of Nicky’s Cruisin’ Diner is a facade that hides the 50s themed restaurant hidden inside. The walls are lined with memorabilia, signed music records and posters, license plates and photos. The black and white checkered walls give the diner a realistic 1950s atmosphere, and the menu represents the classics that were popular in Maine in the ‘50s.
The time period of the ‘50s is known for its music, milkshakes and country growth. It was a time for change, which is well-reflected in the decorations and layout of this themed diner. An old photo booth stands in the corner of the room, while a life-size car and pictures of Elvis make customers feel like they went back in time in this family-owned restaurant. The restaurant also has an attached ice cream parlor where visitors can order shakes, floats, sundaes and dozens of dessert varieties that coincide with the ‘50s theme. This includes their well-known “Scooby-Doo” desserts, which are mini pies and sweets that are paired with a scoop of ice cream for the perfect portion size.
Poutine, a Canadian delicacy of french fries smothered in cheese curds and gravy, is a staple at Nicky’s and one of their most popular items on the menu. The diner sells a wide variety of comfort foods and breakfast items that each have their own special twist that appeals to the ‘50s theme. Everything from burgers and wraps to bowls of homemade soup can be found on the wide ranging menu.
Another Nicky’s staple is their homemade mac and cheese dish, made fresh with baked pasta and smothered in four different kinds of cheese. They also have unique sandwich names like the “Swimming Reuben” and “Blue Mango Veggie Burger” that attract customers to the diner. There is something for everyone.
“It’s so hard to find a place with an interesting atmosphere that has amazing food to go with it,” Kim Stoddard, second-year UMaine student, said. “It’s a cute little themed diner, great place to take friends or family. I have taken a lot of my close friends here and they all give raving reviews.”
The restaurant was originally an ice cream parlor in the early 1970s, and then became a diner after it was purchased by two owners who amped up the theme-inspired decor and redid the inside of the diner. Nicky’s has a tradition called “Cruise Nite” every Wednesday from May to September when customers are allowed to drive up with their vintage cars to meet new people, take pictures and eat food.
The waitstaff includes dozens of friendly faces who are eager to serve and light up the restaurant with their positive energy and ‘50s-inspired uniforms. For such a small place, Nicky’s Cruisin Diner has left its mark in Maine and given customers a place to enjoy great food.
To learn more about Nicky’s Cruisin’ Diner, see photos or get directions, visit nickyscruisindiner.com.