This crazy winter storm is a kick in the Snow Pants for Mod Betty to get good ol Granite State of New Hampshire on the Retro Roadmap, and I thought it was a good idea to kick it off with one of the tiniest places we’ve visited – a vintage lunch car that seats 8!
Gilleys Lunch Car diner (made by the Worcester Dining Car Company in 1940) is tucked on a side street in Portsmouth, hugged by a parking garage on one side and a building on another. But it fits!
According to their website, this lunch car of just five that were built (by the Worcester Co), and is the only one remaining in full operation today. It used to be hauled out every night to the middle of town to serve food. Though it found its permanent Fleet street address in 1974, the truck that towed the diner is still attached to the front of the structure – and the wheels remain under the skirting!
As you can see they’ve retained the porcelain enamel interior and lunch car feel – so just prepped for the small but charming space if you want to eat in. In the warmer weather they set up picnic tables outside for diner dining al fresco.
The specialties of the menu are dogs and burgers and various sandwiches grilled right before your eyes, just like when longtime employee Ralph “Gilley” Gilbert worked there. He has passed but his legacy lives on in the naming of the diner.
Full disclosure – we didn’t eat anything at Gilley’s – because we were too full! We had just had breakfast at The Friendly Toast, as we used to go there when we were “courtin” and hadn’t been there since we have been married! While not strictly Retro Roadmap worthy, it is a vintage kitsch-lovers paradise, as you can see from my photos. So if you’re in the neighborhood and that’s your thing, swing by.
But if you want real true unique vintage experience, Gilley’s is the place!
Gilley’s PM Lunch Dining Car
175 Fleet Street
Portsmouth, NH 03801
Open 7 days a week 11am-2am
View NH – New Hampshire Retro Roadmap in a larger map