A pleasant stop by the rail line: The Moonlite Diner gets the retro look down pat.

The Moonlite Diner has a 50s retro look, but a very modern menu, complete with Panini's and Mahi Mahi. (Photo by Michael Freeman).

FORT LAUDERDALE – The Moonlite Diner sits very close to railroad tracks, and there are commuter trains that pass though this section of Fort Lauderdale.
That seems entirely appropriate, since this 1950’s-style restaurant looks exactly like a railroad diner car of an earlier era. You can see it being the main spot to get a burger or a shake for the commuters passing through South Florida by train.
Except … these days, I doubt the diner gets much of its business from people riding the commuter train. It’s no longer a pit stop in the middle of nowhere, a place where the train riders can get off, stretch their legs, and then get a meal while the train refuels.
The diner is right across the street from the exit for Interstate 95, and is conveniently located at the entrance to a huge shopping plaza that includes other restaurants, a movie theater, an LA Fitness Gym and more. On the other side of the diner is a huge Sheraton Suites hotel. The Moonlite Diner, which is open 24 hours a day, is perfectly suited for foot traffic in a region where tourists keep flocking for our mild winters and endless array of fun things to do.
The Moonlite Diner is definitely worth a stop for anyone passing through this area. Walk inside the diner car and it has a great 1950’s retro look, from the checkered tile floor to the golden oldies playing on the speakers, to the booths that make it all feel like something out of “American Graffiti.” If there’s a part of you that enjoys nostalgia, you’re going to appreciate the work that went into giving Moonlite the look of a place Buddy Holly might have stopped at during his tours in Florida.
The walls are decorated with signs and advertisements from olden days; they’re fun to check out, including “A&W Root Beer Sold Here,” “P.T. Cruiser Parking Only,” and “Fly to Alaska,” among them. You’ve got the Heinz Yellow Mustard container and the Heinz Tomato Ketchup container on your table, and I can’t remember the last time I went to a diner and the manager actually stopped by to ask how we were doing – let alone say “Tres bien, tres bien,” with a big smile on his face.
Moonlite strives to make it all seem relaxing and fun – and succeeds.
They also have a surprisingly lengthy menu for a diner that looks like it would mainly serve burgers, fries, and a class of Coke. You can get that, if you want, but try being a little more adventurous.
Think about going early for one of the Moonlite Diner’s hearty Breakfast Combos, like the 2222 – two eggs any style, two pancakes, two strips of bacon, and two sausage links. Or you might gravitate to the even more adventurous Hungry Man plate, which gives you three eggs any style, two pancakes, two strips of bacon and two sausage links, home fries and grits, and a biscuit with country gravy. Whew!
If you’re watching your figure, there’s a wide variety of salads to pick from, including spinach, chicken, tuna, Chef, Greek, or Santa Fe Cobb, among others. The Moonlite has a French Onion Soup served daily, as well as a different soup of the day; on the day I went, I was quite fortunate indeed to sample their Italian Wedding Soup, which was positively delicious.
Moonlite also has a long list of Panini’s (turkey spinach, grilled chicken, Hawaiian, Turkey bacon, buffalo chicken), and dinner plates that include fish and chips, pan seared Mahi Mahi, spaghetti and meatballs, chopped steak, pot roast and Skirt Steak. As I said, you’ve got lots to pick from besides the burgers.
In true diner fashion, Moonlite also has specialty drinks like a Coke Float, a New York Chocolate Egg Cream, and a glass of vanilla, chocolate or cherry Coke. And it wouldn’t be a true 50’s retro diner without that long list of hand dipped milk shakes, with a wide variety of creamy options, like banana, pineapple, Oreo, M&M, peanut butter, vanilla, Snickers, cookie dough and hot fudge. I found the strawberry banana shake to be a true delight.
The Moonlite Diner is at 6201 N. Andrews Ave. in Fort Lauderdale. There are a few tables outside for enjoying the mild winter months to come. You might find yourself down there sometime, enjoying Moonlite’s homemade soups and shakes, while watching the commuter train zip by. It’s definitely worth a visit if you’re traveling this way, by car or train.
To learn more, call 954-938-8950.

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