ShareThis Page

Hot Metal Diner is not for the faint of stomach

| Monday, June 11, 2012, 7:41 a.m.

It's just after 7 a.m. on a Saturday at the Hot Metal Diner in West Mifflin. There's rock music blaring from the sound system, providing a non-caffeinated boost to the bottomless cups of coffee customers are drinking. Waitress and manager Stephanie Schofield is breezing around the diner like a blonde whippet, chatting with familiar faces, greeting one new patron breezily, but with a smile.

"Time's up," Schofield says when the customer dawdles over a menu.

"I try to start friendships with customers," she says. "But with some of them, I'm more or less sarcastic."

That's one of the reasons the Hot Metal Diner is unlike any other dining establishment in the area. You can point to the bright red-and-black decor, the vintage signs, the retro counter with bar stools, the motorcycle memorabilia (the Hot Metal Harley-Davidson is right across the street, and many motorcyclists looking for hearty breakfasts are regulars) but there's also a sense that anyone from any walk of life is welcome.

"We try to make you feel like you're at home and you don't have to cook," says owner Wendy Betten. "We just do it better than anyone else."

Betten is a veteran of the restaurant industry, but when asked about her background, she gives you the whole story: ran away from home at 14, started waiting tables, enlisted in the Army, got out of the Army, went back to waiting tables, got married, waited more tables, bought a restaurant, sold it and retired.

Except the retirement didn't take.

"I hated being retired," Betten says. "I went on a mission, found an architect. And I've been on a mission since the day we opened."

If making customers feel like they are at home is the Hot Metal Diner's mission, the philosophy concerning food is "size really matters." The portions are of lumberjack proportions, which often is a warning sign that the quality of the food is lacking. But not so at the Hot Metal Diner.

The Hot Metal Mixed Grill ($5.99) is a blend of perfectly seasoned eggs, sauteed green peppers and onions, served with a side of Italian toast (Mancini's bread only).

Other selections are served with dollops of wit: Buttermilk Mancakes ($7.39) feature two gigantic (think hubcap-sized) pancakes; the Port Authority Protein Punch ($6.29) consists of three eggs, and a choice of bacon, ham or sausage; Bob's Fatboy Samich ($5.59) is two scrambled eggs and cheese, with either ham, bacon or sausage on grilled Italian toast.

Health-conscious• We're not sure how healthy a five-egg-white omelet with tomatoes, peppers and onions is, but the Health Nuts Special is only $6.09.

There's also an extensive lunch menu, featuring a variety sandwiches, soups and salads. By name alone, our favorite is the Big Ass Fish Sandwich ($9.25), which is "caught fresh out back," and comes with coleslaw, potato chips and a pickle.

Additional Information:

Hot Metal Diner

Location: 1025 Lebanon Road, West Mifflin

Hours: 6 a.m to 3 p.m daily

Details: 412-460-4900 or website

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.