Nostalgia is one hell of a drug.
It’s a thought that occurs every time we enter Trina’s Starlite Lounge, a delightfully weird proto-dive perched on a corner of Inman Square. From vintage signs advertising the cola and cigarettes of yesteryear to a reconstructed retro kitchen, the decor evokes a 1950s America that’s a little less Norman Rockwell and a bit more David Lynch.
The scene setting applies to the dinner menu as well, which is populated by the sort of throwback comfort foods you’d find at the all-American diner of your dreams. In a town racked by burger inflation, the $9 Starlite-Style burger—with two juicy, crumbly patties packed between a soft bun with fries, coleslaw, and special sauce—is a welcome respite. The Fried Chicken is what you’d expect from a real Southern grandma and not a Kentucky colonel, lightly breaded and perfectly seasoned. It all deserves to be washed down by the unofficial house beer, Miller High Life (just don’t neglect the creative but unfussy cocktail menu).
Trina’s Sunday and Monday brunch also traffics in the past, though in this case the inspiration is a little closer to home. Heavily advertised snacks familiar to any ’90s kid reappear; think flaky Home-Made Pop Tarts with frequently changing fillings and saucy Pizza Bagels studded with bacon and sausage. Even the hooch hearkens back to Nickelodeon commercial breaks: Matt’s Quickie blends vodka and espresso liqueur with Nesquik (and a Green Chartreuse float, if you’re really feeling it).
Facing the present again can be tough after a late night or early afternoon spent at the Starlite Lounge. But when another retreat to its alternate universe is required, you’ll know just where to find it.
Swing by on Sloppy Joe Wednesday to snag two of the titular sandwiches with onion strings or fries for $12.
Notice that third squeeze bottle, the one that’s neither mustard nor ketchup? It’s filled with Crystal, a Louisiana-style hot sauce. Use it generously on the fried chicken.
Visit Trina’s next-door neighbor and sister restaurant, Parlor Sports, to catch the game du jour and nosh on similarly satisfying (and inexpensive) bar food.
The General Electric refrigerator at the center of Trina’s retro kitchen has its own Instagram following. Follow @starlitefridge for your daily dose of snarky fridge magnet messages.