It’s interesting, the things we pass in our day-to-day life without ever really seeing them. I’ve been to the Walden Galleria just as often as any Western New Yorker over the years, but I can honestly say that until I was looking for Jim’s Truck Plaza Restaurant, located just past the mall on Walden Avenue, I had never really noticed it at all. It turns out that this 24-hour diner is a bit of a hidden treasure, if you like your treasures with zero frills.
I met my good friend Carrie at Jim’s for a dinner date, and I think it’s safe to say we were the only non-truck driver patrons that evening. Slightly dingy and nonremarkable besides a walled-off, smoking-permitted dining area that has inexplicably made it into the 21st century, the interior was pretty much what you would expect – which is one of the stalwart comforts of a good diner. This place isn’t the Ritz, and it isn’t trying to be.
We slid into a booth near the door, noting that the patron two tables down was reading a tome by that seemingly perennial favorite author of gruff, older men – Louis L’Amour. A few other diners joked with the waitresses as they ate their meals, and the waitresses joked right back. Regulars and one-timers seemed equally welcome, though families and children seemed in short supply.
Breakfast food seems especially right at a diner, no matter what the time, so Carrie and I both ordered off the first page of the menu. I chose the No. 2 combo – two each of eggs, bacon, sausage and either French toast or pancakes ($4.99). Carrie went with the short stack of pancakes ($3.59) and a side order of bacon ($2.29). Our coffees were just $1.59 each, with regular refills.
However, Jim’s has a full menu for whatever meal you’re craving – a variety of simple sandwiches under $3.99, in addition to salads and more elaborate sandwiches featuring kielbasa, corned beef and Philly cheesesteak, plus french fries, for $7.99 or less. There also is a page of dinner options, ranging from T-bone steak ($13.99) to turkey dinner ($7.99), plus a salad bar and a regular Friday fish fry ($9.99). Discounted senior and kids’ menus are both available.
I can’t speak to the quality of a T-bone steak at Jim’s, but they do a great breakfast. Carrie’s pancakes were large and cooked to a perfect light-brown, and my French toast was equally tasty. The bacon was crispy, and the coffee refills came often. The one facet of the meal that wasn’t completely satisfactory was my eggs – though I asked for them over-easy, they came back barely cooked. After two exploratory bites, I left them uneaten.
I finished off my Jim’s experience with a selection from the dessert menu: a generously sized ice cream sundae with strawberries, whipped cream and a cherry ($3.49). Totally decadent, and totally delicious. Other options included strawberry shortcake, cheesecake and pies, all for $3.49 or less.
The satisfying portions and refreshingly low prices make Jim’s a unique alternative to the overpriced food court at the mall, either pre- or post-shopping trip. I’m glad I made a detour to give it a try.
Jim’s Truck Plaza Restaurant
Where: 2125 Walden Ave., Cheektowaga
Hours: Open 24 hours daily.
Wheelchair accessible: Yes