Erwin’s Dari-Ace nears 60 years of good food

Mystery Diner • Oct 21, 2018 at 8:00 AM

Erwin, Tennessee’s Dari-Ace is nearing 60 years of providing hungry customers their delicious creations for breakfast, lunch and supper. How do they do it, you ask? Quickly, correctly and best of all, with a smile.

The Dari-Ace has been the epitome of the phrase “Drive-In” since 1960, an era when the drive-in was the destination every night of the week. In addition to their drive-thru window, the Dari-Ace folks also have a walk-up window for pedestrians who want to “grab it and go.”

For those who want to stick around for a bit, they have an honest-to-Pete 12-seat horseshoe-shaped lunch counter surrounded by 12 chrome and vinyl swivel chairs that have been here as long as I can remember. The Dari-Ace’s lunch counter is where my dining partner and I each grabbed a seat for our early Saturday night supper.

Flounder sandwich with onion rings: Dari-Ace has classic American comfort food served any way my dining partner and I wanted. Our server Katelynn was kind enough to point the flounder sandwich ($4) out to me prior to my choosing from the menu posted at my end of the horseshoe. I teamed that with a side order of French-fried onion rings ($2.09).

Waiting for the kitchen to prepare my order gave me a chance to check out some of the décor that festoons the walls of the Dari-Ace lunch counter area. Notably, there are two signs reading “No Profanity” posted. Then there’s my favorite; one that reads “No Sniveling.”

My fish sandwich was a nicely breaded flounder filet that had been deep-fried in fresh peanut oil (says so at the bottom of the menu) as were my crispy and crunchy side order of onion rings. The cooks dressed my fish sandwich just as I had asked for, with tartar sauce instead of mayonnaise, adding the chopped iceberg lettuce and diced crisp onion, but holding the tomato, please. All of this was served inside a Dari-Ace original split-top burger bun. The sandwich was excellent, and the fried onion rings were just great, especially with a little dab of ketchup to help things along.

Bacon cheeseburger & steak fries: My dining partner ordered the full All-American bacon cheeseburger ($4.10) with some no-salt steak fries ($2.09) on the side, and Katelynn had my partner’s order back in under 10 minutes. Her bacon cheeseburger was classically All-American, being a quarter pound hand-formed 100% ground beef patty grilled medium-well and topped with American cheese and three strips of lean bacon, chopped lettuce, sliced onion and tomato along with dill pickles and mayonnaise.

With a fresh bottle of ketchup near to hand that had been thoughtfully provided by our server Katelynn, my dining partner greatly enjoyed her classically all-the-way bacon cheeseburger with some of the best steak fries ever.

And before we go, there is dessert: During supper, I’d been eyeing the long list of milkshake flavors that Dari-Ace can blend for the discerning palate. Having heard their peanut butter milkshake was especially good, I ordered a small-sized peanut butter milkshake ($2.09) for dessert. My dining partner, having downed her All-American bacon cheeseburger and steak fries, decided to continue her Stroll-Thru-the-Sixties by ordering a hot fudge sundae with nuts ($2.69) as her finisher.

My peanut butter milkshake was excellent, with good, long-lasting peanut butter flavor. It had just the right texture and consistency; thick though not so thick you could not use a straw. However, I have a word of warning for you. Tearing into your peanut butter milkshake as I did, a case of brain freeze is a distinct possibility.

Meanwhile, my dining partner was handling her dessert with care, lingering over a hot fudge sundae that had real, honest to goodness “wet” walnut pieces (her favorite) as its topping.

Dari-Ace also does plate suppers that include two sides and a dinner roll or cornbread for $8, and their breakfast menu is both extensive and comprehensive.

Dining at Erwin’s Dari-Ace is always a real pleasure, and why shouldn’t it be? They’ve only been at it for nearly 60 years, right?


1105 Jackson-Love Highway



Tue.-Sat. 8 a.m.–8 p.m.

Closed Sun. & Mon.

Available on Facebook

Credit cards accepted

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