Pink Cadillac Diner

Delicious Americana in Rockbridge County, Virginia.

Some folks may happen upon the pink building. For others, it’s a familiar destination. But rare is the guest who after one visit doesn’t long to return for another taste of the American comfort food, 1950s décor, and friendly service found within the Pink Cadillac Diner.

Located off Interstate 81 in Natural Bridge, Virginia, the Pink Cadillac Diner is a local treasure that lures established fans as well as curious newbies from far and wide. With Elvis memorabilia, an old-fashioned jukebox, a genuine pink Cadillac, classic diner food, and 24 flavors of ice cream, you’ll find a feast for your eyes, ears, and taste buds. Value pricing makes Pink Cadillac Diner a treat for your wallet, too.

Established in 1999, the Pink Cadillac Diner was purchased in 2016 by former manager Brian Torrence and his wife Teresa. They reopened it that same year after a brief hiatus for updates, which included expanding the ice cream offerings, adding outdoor seating, repainting the pink Cadillac outside, giving the back dining room an Elvis theme, and hanging license plates from across the country throughout the space. The Diner has earned its reputation as a family-friendly eatery that’s a great spot for enjoying a delicious treat.

Pink Cadillac Diner’s best-selling menu item is its signature Elvis Burger: a half-pound, double-decker burger topped with lettuce, tomato, and house-made sauce.

Exactly what is in Pink Cadillac’s house-made sauce is a well-guarded secret: “It’s reminiscent of Thousand Island dressing, but not exactly,” says one employee who requested anonymity for sharing what little is possible about the sauce. “It’s oil and vinegar based, but not oily or vinegary. It’s really special!”

Smoked prime rib sandwiches—available with cheddar and/or mushrooms, French dip- or Cubano-style—are also perennial favorites. Other popular menu items include pulled pork sandwiches and the chili cheese dog that features a quarter-pound, all-beef Oscar Mayer hot dog stuffed into a pretzel bun. A kids’-menu favorite is the chicken nuggets with house-made honey mustard sauce (another secret sauce recipe, though two key ingredients are revealed in the name). Though not currently available while the restaurant is operating limited hours during the coronavirus pandemic, breakfast is usually a big hit, with options like biscuits & gravy, omelets, and pancakes.

Across its menu, Pink Cadillac Diner’s dishes are prepared with quality ingredients and love. You can taste the commitment to details. Online reviewers frequently pepper their write-ups with the words yummy, delicious, satisfying, fabulous, tasty, awesome, outstanding, and homemade to describe their meals.

Twenty-four flavors of Hershey’s ice cream are always available at the ice cream counter, though the line-up changes a bit with each season. Year-round favorites include crazy vanilla—which is a wild mix of colors—chocolate, strawberry, chocolate mint chip, and moose tracks. Fall favorites include coconut-chocolate-almond, salted caramel, maple walnut, and cookies & cream. Winter best-sellers include peppermint stick, rum raisin, eggnog, and peppermint bark. Spring- and summertime winners include black cherry, orange sherbet, and butter pecan.

Outdoor seating, which was added in 2016, is proving especially convenient during the coronavirus pandemic. Grab a seat at a picnic table that’s positioned a good distance from the other tables and eat under blue skies. Or head inside to one of the sweetly kitschy dining areas. Carry-out is, of course, another option. Indoors and out, the owners and staff members are following current guidelines to “ensure that all of our friends and staff are as safe as we can make them,” a promise posted on the Pink Cadillac Diner’s Facebook page.

Though on hold for now, live musical entertainment and special events are typically among the Diner’s attractions. Past events have included Elvis impersonators, fundraisers, school PTA nights, and Thursday Night Live events. Look for these foot-tapping, smile-inducing occasions to resume when feasible.

“Pink Cadillac Diner is a booming place!” says Sage Marcun, an ice cream cashier with clear, genuine enthusiasm for her employer. “It’s a very special, family-owned diner!”

Whether you’re driving through the area or planning to stay awhile, Pink Cadillac Diner is worth seeking out. It’s also hard to miss with its eye-popping pink paint and green trim.

Pink Cadillac Diner is located at 4347 S. Lee Highway in Natural Bridge. It’s just one of the many great reasons to visit Rockbridge County, Virginia.

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