Cruise in Country Diner – Hillsboro
The Cruise In Country Diner is a well known spot that I’ve drive by so many times I can’t even count them anymore. It’s a frequent meeting spot for motorcyclists and custom car folks because there’s a large parking lot and it seems like everyone knows where it’s located. On this particular day I had driven the 300 – I know! – Why not the Bronco, well, truth be told I needed to drive the 300 as I didn’t want it getting too lonely and it’s AC works much better. Also, the Bronco is nearly out of gas and when it gets gas it’s like $100 easily. Not that it gets any better (or worse mileage than the 300 – just that it’s got a 32 gallon tank so I tell myself that it’s somehow a worse expense to fill it up for the Bronco than the 300. Makes sense, right? Anyhow… The Cruise in Country Diner is located just a little south of Hillsboro along what seems like the major route to everywhere going south – at least if you’re heading to Newburg. If you’re going to McMinnville that’s a different direction and another story. The Cruise In Country Diner is also conveniently located at a four way stop where folks can get a real good glimpse of the sign and how many others are enjoying the goodness at the diner.
The sign above the restaurant is hard to miss however it’s the sign below the roof that can be seen if you’re coming from the north driving to the south that is the most interesting – and relevant to me for this story – namely that there are natural and organic ingredients that are featured at the Cruise In Country Diner. Now, let’s face it’s that’s not normally something that goes together – healthy food and diners. Usually the thought would be of gut busting shakes and enormous hamburgers that would choke horses, but if the Cruise In Country Diner has anything like that at least you know they use healthy ingredients. On this particular Sunday the parking lot was so full (at 2pm) that I drove past and looked at what I thought was the overflow parking (it’s not) and dropped off my buddy to put our name on the list. As I turned around again I noticed a placard in front that said “Burgers SOLD since March 2009 375,000 Thanks!” Now, that is an impressive count of burgers in 8 years. I was curious as to how many exactly that meant per day – yeah, I’m OCD like that, so I decided to calculate it… and if we say for rounding that was eight years ago and they were open about three hundred and sixty days a year that means they sold around one hundred and thirty burgers each and every day for the last eight years. That is an impressive number.
As soon as you enter you may be confused at first and be taken aback and believe you’ve somehow been transported to some kind of establishment on Route 66. There’s absolutely no shortage of license plates, hub caps, and other automobile paraphernalia artfully arranged to stir the soul of any car enthusiast.
There is a counter where singles or couples can order a drink and minors should stay away from that have a nice selection of drinks on tap and other cool, delicious, libations. However this is also a family establishment, so there is a former (appearing) gas pump that is now filled with gum balls for the kids and I’m fairly certain I can still remember getting gas from a pump just like that (dating myself a little there!) when I was growing up in Louisiana. There are several booths on the right just when you go inside and the esthetic continues throughout the entire establishment. The Cruise In Country Diner sits about forty or fifty people and has a nice outdoor seating area (that looked way too hot today) that seats another twelve or fifteen. My seat was near the door outside so was a little warm, but I was thankful to be sitting inside.
I finally got around to taking a look at the menu and of course the car theme continued to the items on the menu – everything was artfully named. On close inspection I did notice that the menu did specify that the ingredients (as stated on the banner on the front) were all very healthy – for example, the chicken had no chemicals and low sodium, there are alpaca bratwursts (no nitrates and gluten free) available (which are fantastic by the way), and many other of the offerings are gluten-free and super tasty. There are quite a few options and I wasn’t terribly hungry so decided on a kids size order of chicken strips and fries (with cheese – because cheese!).
When I got my food I was super pleased. The fries were definitely freshly cut and super good. The chicken coating was delicate and not at all tasteless like some of the gluten-free products I’ve had before. If you’re hungry be sure to get the four chicken strip meal – for me the two strip kids meal was the perfect amount. All of the food was delicious and I was very pleased with my selection.
The Cruise In Country Diner deserves five HeyWillamettes today for several reasons – first of all because of the sheer amount of cool (because at heart I’m a gearhead and motorcyclist) stuff here, also because of their super healthy selection of meats and other fantastic food offerings and lastly for their sheer amazing quantity of burgers sold over the last eight years they’ve been tracking – three hundred seventy-five thousand – that’s about one hundred thirty a day!!! So give them a try, I’m sure you’ll think what I did – when can I stop by and try something else at the Cruise In Country Diner??