I See The Beacon

August 21st, 2010

Hi, Mr Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen here.  Out of desperation, Penny has invited me to do a guest post for the second time in as many years.  She had nothing to write about.  She was planning to write about Chicken Negimaki, a  recipe from the NY Times  that she tried for the first time last night.  It sounded great….flattened chicken breasts, each wrapped around a couple of scallions that had been sauteed in soy sauce, mirin and garlic, then brushed with sesame oil and grilled while basting occasionally with the soy mixture left from cooking the scallions.  Sounds wonderful and looks good, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, the finished product didn’t live up to expectations…a little too salty from the soy sauce, and a little too dry, probably from me over cooking it on the grill. In any event, Penny said, “I can’t write about this…not until I work with it some more and get it to the point that we like it.  Now what am I going to do?”

“Never fear,” I say. “Let me write about my trip to The Beacon for lunch today.”  So here we go.  I am a big fan of Guy Fieri’s show, Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.  I record it each week and watch every episode with paper and pencil in hand, making notes on any DDD that looks worthy of a visit.  I have an extensive list now, organized by states, that I will take along on our next cross-country bike trip this fall. My intention is to check the list for an unusual place to have lunch wherever we happen to be around noon on any given day.  I got a head start on the list by driving down to Spartanburg yesterday with my friend Jim to have lunch at the Beacon Drive In.  Jim had been there before, but it was my first visit.

The Beacon has been an institution in Spartanburg for over 70 years.  The present owners bought the place in 1998 and were allowed to do so by promising not to change a single thing.  So, what you see today is pretty much what you would have seen over a half-century ago. You walk in and get in line to place your order with J. C. Strobble who is standing at the head of the serving line.  JC has been calling orders at The Beacon for over 50 years. You tell JC what you want, and he calls it out loud and clear in diner-food speak to the cooks working behind him. JC is blind, but you would never know it.  He is amazing to watch and to hear. And you better not hesitate too long to tell him what you want, or he will ask you to step aside so that someone behind you, who knows better what they want in life, can place their order.  I had decided ahead of time to order the second most popular sandwich on the menu…the Outside Chop Pork Sandwich.  By the time I uttered the first word, “outside”,  JC called it out to the cooks and asked me only if it was to go or eat in.

Any sandwich can be ordered by itself or “A-Plenty”.  A-Plenty means with a heap of both french fries and onion rings.  The sandwich will be underneath there somewhere, hidden by all that fried goodness.  Jim and I had decided that only one of us needed to order “A-Plenty” because there would be “plenty” of fries and onion rings for both of us.  We agreed that Jim would order his Chili Cheeseburger (first most popular menu item) A-Plenty.  As you can see, there were more than enough fries and rings for the two of us.

My pork sandwich was very tasty with large pieces of tender, juicy cut-up pork and a delicious sauce that I couldn’t quite put my finger on (even though it was all over my fingers). It’s a good thing they have rolls of paper towels on the tables.

After placing your order with JC, you move on down the line and your order will magically appear on the stainless steel counter in front of you about a minute after you placed it.  A few more feet down the line, you can pick up a large styrofoam cup of your beverage of choice, the most popular by far being Beacon Ice Tea….loaded with sugar and lemon.  The Beacon sells more ice tea than any other restaurant in the country.

At the end of the line, you pay the cashier, find a seat in one of the several dining areas, and enjoy. This lovely lady will take your tray when you are finished.

You might recall some of Penny’s posts from early last spring when we were doing the snow-bird thing in Florida and attending Weight Watchers meetings.  I already have about 10 reasons to go back on WW when we get back to Florida, and by the time I get back from my motorcycle tour of other Triple D establishments this fall, I will undoubtably have several more reasons.  I can’t wait….for the Triple D tour that is.

18 responses to “I See The Beacon”

  1. Wow,that place sounds amazing! Another one of my blog friends just recently posted about a place they ate at our west. It looked yummy too. They got it from DDD too. Glad you had a nice visit with your friend. And what a great list to try on your bike trip. That will be fun! Enjoyed your guest post. Love & blessings from NC!

  2. A Plenty is exactly what I’d order. Looks great. I don’t know if there are any Colorado DDD’s that Guy has featured.

  3. Kate says:

    I love pork sandwiches and I would definitely need some of those onion rings to go with it! What a cool place. If I am ever in the south, I will look it up.
    Tell Penny to take a look at my coffee cake disaster…it is okay to flub up or bet a recipe and be disappointed, now and again!

  4. bella roz says:

    Wow, I’m loving this review of the Beacon! I teach at USC Upstate in Spartanburg and LOVE the Beacon. Every word and photo of your review is spot-on correct! The man who is blind and who calls the orders in is the uncle of one of my students. The family apparently has a genetic issue with their eyes and she has started a non-profit business geared toward glaucoma in the eyes. Glad you enjoyed; and as they say here, ‘come back soon, y’all’!

    Roz at La Bella Vita!

  5. That is A LOT of food!!! It looks good…..but not so good for you and that is why I am sure it tasted great!

    Tell Penny Hi from Kent and me…

  6. You are a good sport David. Tell Penny I know how she feels. Thanks for taking us along on your trip. I enjoy Guy also and the Beacon looks like his kind of place.

  7. Big Dude says:

    You did a great job filling in for Penny – well written, good photos and great topic. The Beacon is on my list of places to visit sometime.

  8. My friend, I hope Kansas is on your list of places to bike through (it’s the big one, right in the middle). Do let me know, I have a great list of Divey Diners here (and some pretty good BBQ in my back yard waiting for you)

    Fun post.

  9. Any quest in search of good food is welcome. The triple D tour sounds like fun.

  10. Lyla says:

    David, so good to have you materialize. Penny tells us about your many culinary gifts, but you have tapped into a special interest of mine, sad to say, with Drive-ins. Your timing is perfect because tomorrow is our 41st anniversary. Bill asked me what I’d like to do. I suggested we spent the day driving down memory lane, i.e., the church we were married in in Dowagiac, Caruso’s, and ending up with Lutz’s Drive-in. Remember it? Dancing at Ramona and Lutz’s. I’m sure we’ll hit Sister Lakes, too. I’m eager to see your DDD columns from your “Wild Hogs” adventures. I, too, love Guy Fieri. Thanks for being Penny’s articulate, fun helper.

  11. Pondside says:

    We have a Beacon Drive-In in Victoria, and it is an institution too. The best burgers and chips and soft ice cream – I swear that it’s possible to gain weight just thinking about a red-gingham-lined basket of chips!

  12. Hi Mr LLCK great guest post you have.. you might consider writing a blog for yourself considering that you follow Guy Fieri’s show.. and have the “actual” experience dining in the restaurants featured.
    Thank you for taking us to Spartanburg… I love pork sandwiches, and I wish I could actually go to The Beacon Drive in to try these mouthwatering subs.

  13. momgateway says:

    Hi Mr Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen,
    Thanks for coming to Penny’s rescue. I’m a DDD fan too. Unfortunately, the only DDD place I tried was a Jamaican resto in Dallas that did not live up to my expectation. The ambiance was fantastic–live music and all but the food was a tad ordinary. But I’m still a DDD fan and would like to try another place soon.

  14. DK says:

    Thanks for the kind words everyone. It’s amazing how many Triple-D fans there are out there. Dave (AYOTG), I have 7 establishments on my list in the Kansas City area. Now I will add an eighth…your house. Lyla, enjoy your trip down memory lane in Dowagiac and Sister Lakes…what great times we all had growing up there. I will try to post about any DDD’s I visit on the out-west bike trip that begins in about a month. The posts will be on my riding blog: http://ridingwithdave.blogspot.com/

  15. Sage says:

    The Beacon sounds like my kind of place. What an intersting project so go visit these little special little spots; love that show, but very far from where I live.

  16. Dear David, Great post! I’ve always thought about making that same DDD list. Maybe I should start immediately! Those onion rings look like heaven on a plate. Tell Penny Hi!
    Cheers! Leslie

  17. Karen says:

    I love to watch Triple D, too! Great post, Mr. LLCK!

  18. Jennifer says:

    What a wonderful post! Either you love the Beacon or hate it! I love it but I can only eat there a few times a year. I like to order my food then go sit down and try not to look at anything or I will get grossed out! lol! My fav is their chili cheeseburgers! Their ice tea is so good too! It’s actually Lipton tea with lots of sugar and lemon. Can’t wait to meet you!

    Take care,

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