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Restaurants can spend a lot of time and money trying to cobble up the kind of authenticity the Mecca has achieved without trying. Sorry, that can't be rushed; in its eighth decade, the place, with its leatherette booths and vintage comics, ads, and menus on the wall, is still so archetypal it could be an installation in the Smithsonian: "The American Diner, 1920-60." The menu is pure comfort, from serious hashbrowns-and-bacon breakfasts to wand-mixed malts, open-face sandwiches (roast beef or turkey piled on egg bread, an ice-cream scoop of mashed potatoes, a ladleful of gravy), chicken strips, chili, and iceberg-lettuce salads. I mean, they still offer cold cereal in individual-serving boxes. And do you know how hard it is to find orange pop in a restaurant nowadays?
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