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Totin's sports full-plate diner atmosphere

| Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013, 6:23 p.m.
James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Totin's Diner on Route 19 in Wexford.
James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Totin's Diner on Route 19 in Wexford.

Jim Totin says he had the desire to open a “fine dining” restaurant on Route 19 in Wexford, then he had a moment of self-awareness.

“I said to myself, ‘Well, what do I like?' ” he says. “I like football. I like history. I like good cooking. I like cars. Hey, that sounds like a diner.”

He decided then to make the site of a car-repair garage right alongside the busy highway into Totin's Diner, an eatery that has survived 2 12 years of business-staggering roadwork and finally appears to be cooking.

Totin's, which opened in 2009, has the look of a traditional diner, sitting in one-story meekness along the highway. It has a big parking area and even a few tables outside for the al-fresco crowd.

Inside, it looks like a diner, too, with a small counter that stares into the kitchen, three rows of four-seat, red leatherette booths and one of four-seat tables.

At peak mealtimes, Totin's can be crowded, but preparation and service is fast, so the restaurant is packed at 12:15 p.m. and quiet by 1.

Servings are big and done well. Omelets, for instance, tend to be hefty, four-egg creations and provide a more-than-ample breakfast for $8.99. From a rather-traditional bacon-cheddar omelet to a massive one of kielbasa and cheese, they are all plate-fillers.

Breakfast is served all day, in a true diner-like fashion.

Lunches also get a long showtime, being served from 11 a.m. to close. They have a similar size and price range as the breakfasts. The chicken ranch panini, for instance, is big enough to satisfy most diners by itself, but all the lunches come with a side of fries, mashed potatoes, coleslaw or pierogies.

The range is great, too, from a simple grilled cheese and fries to a roasted turkey and field greens wrap. Totin's also offers a hot turkey or hot meatloaf sandwich in a small and large category at $7.29 and $8.99.

The diner moves into a dinner mode at 4 p.m. every day with a down-home lineup featuring items like the meatloaf or pot roast dinners at $11.99. It also offers $12.99 daily specials such as Wednesday's stuffed cabbage and Friday's stuffed peppers.

But the king of the specials is Saturday's 58-ounce prime rib for $44.99.

“Yeah, I get some kidding about that,” Totin says with a chuckle. “But, yeah, come in with some friends and you can split it.”

To help with the dining experience, Totin has decided to make the place a bring-your-own establishment. There's no corkage fee, he says, because they operate on a hands-off policy.

“We don't stock it, sell it, or even open it,” he says, “so, as long as you are over 21, you are fine.”

Totin's Diner, 10283 Old Perry Highway, Wexford, is open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturday and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays. Details: 724-759-7102.

Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at bkarlovits@tribweb.com or 412-320-7852.

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