Wonder outside of this area and you have Line Lexington, Pennsylvania, a busier Philadelphia suburb near Hatfield with its share of interesting restaurants and dives. A standout, for all the wrong reasons is the Zoto's Diner (also referred to as Zoto's Family Restaurant and Diner) on Bethlehem Pike. Of course it's a 'shopping center' dive but with the interesting branding we thought a visit was in order. Hoping to uncover the next big thing in Bucks County we only left suffering from stomach pains, buyer's remorse and the feeling that 95 minutes of our lives were stolen without redemption.
Zoto's Diner is a dive that resembles the geriatric unit of your regional 'state owned' sanatorium and the smell, or shall I say 'odor' is reminiscent of mushroom soup, adult diapers, cheap spaghetti and dog food.
Walking into this dive you'll experience an odd combination of a pretentious, cheaply perfumed, makeup caked street walker that will show you to your booth. If you're one of the fortunate few to get a table without butter smeared all over the top and chicken soup drizzled on the 1970's style cushion seat, then count your blessings because that is most likely the best thing that could happen to you at this glorified greasy spoon. Think, North Philly, meets Compton section of Los Angeles but only with a Caucasian waitress sporting a grime caked ponytail, yellow armpit stained shirt and probably the most racist individuals you'll ever meet.
I was eating there with a fellow writer from Korea and the way they treated him was so unbelievably despicable it made me sick. Sure he had an accent but he was making every effort to be polite and kind and to assimilate. His goal was to gather information for a travel journal he was righting to be published in the spring. Instead of unique material that he could add to his book he was slammed with an ignorant, obese, obscenely despicable receptionist, waitress and cashier. I really felt bad for him. I travel constantly as this is part of the writing biz and I have never witnessed anything even remotely close to this but we didn't even get to the food yet.
After about 20 minutes of sitting with no service I asked the waitress, assigned to our section, if I could have a menu. She looked at me, looked at my colleague and with a huff and puff returned with two of the grimiest and stained circa 1945 menus I've ever seen. I felt as though touching these smelly antiques would cause them to disintegrate in my hands or by that I would get some type of skin disease from touching the surface. Hmm, boiled chicken, chicken soup, mashed potatoes, so gross. Well, we've been sitting here, may as well just order, eat and get the heck out. We both ordered the chicken and potato platter. This automaton waitress wouldn't so much as acknowledge my friend so I ordered for him.
The food, to be perfectly objective, open minded and as positive as humanely possible was absolutely the most disgusting culinary disaster I've experienced in 39 years of memory. The chicken was stringy and cold, the potatoes had hard, crackly pieces throughout and it was all covered with this puss colored gravy which, by using my imagination, tasted identical to what it looked like.
Listen, there are so many places to eat in the area, steer clear of Zoto's Diner, it is, hands down, a grease infested, mind blowing experience that will damage your taste buds and make your heart ache. I say it will make your heart ache because the staff was so unified under this umbrella of obvious hat and disdain for someone that was different and now, when he goes back to his country to write about our area, the only thing that will stick in his mind is the pure hate, unbridled racism and stomach turning, putrid gastronomical hodgepodge served at Zoto's Diner, the hell on earth for diners in the Bucks/Mont area.
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