Black Bear Diner

Black Bear Diner

Aren’t those bear cubs cute?

I actually sought out Black Bear Diner for the murals which I’ve been getting into photographing but decided to pop in for the food which I’m glad I did. I love pot pies but for the longest time couldn’t find a restaurant that had one I liked.  For some reason, for awhile, deconstructed pot pies were in fashion.  Should’ve called it chicken stew cobbler — I mean really — the innards with a few crumbles of pastry floating on top?  That is not a chicken pot pie.

Luckily I have found my chicken pot pie place here.  The crust is good, the chicken is in big chunks and tender, and the rest is flavorful.  I ordered lemonade and I was set.  The pot pie was a little pricey: $11.99 but delicious.

I enjoyed the vintage feel of Black Bear Diner.  Walking in there are 3 wooden bears welcoming you and a bench with paw prints reminding me of the road trip our family took driving from California to Massachusetts.

We would stop at these little restaurants on the freeway just outside of small towns with names like Buttonwillow. Yeah, we mostly hit McD’s but the diners were more fun. They’d have little souvenir shops and something just outside the doors not unlike the three wooden bears to lure people in for a bite.  And clean bathrooms.  Even when I was 7, I learned you cannot underrate the importance of clean bathrooms when you are driving cross-country.

Inside the Black Bear Diner, continues the small town motif with a menu disguised as a retro small-town newspaper and a juke box.  It would be cooler if the juke box had 45s but those are almost impossible to find these days.  Black Bear Diner has a vintage appeal that I am partial to.

The juke box was surrounded by black bears for sale from little ones to a huge one reminding me again of the little souvenir shops in the highway diners back when people drove Route 66.

Service is very good.  They seated me right away and Troy came quickly to get my drink order and see how much time I needed to order.  The first time I came, I eyed the pies sitting enticingly in the front class counter but was too full with the pot pie to order one.  So, of course, I had to come back on another day just to sample the pie.

Shortly after Troy went to get my coffee, another waiter checked on me to make sure someone had seen to me.  They seem to take taking care of you very seriously which is sweet. I especially appreciated it because I was eating alone and I’ve had experiences at other restaurants that were less than stellar. It says a lot about a place if they take good care of single eater as they do the one with friends.


My table was smallish — good for one person to spread out on and would fit two people if camera bags and purses went under the table.

The second time I came, I ordered the cherry cobbler with coffee. The coffee arrived fast, strong and a tad bitter — wake me up coffee, the kind you want at 6am when you’re on the road.  I opened the little packages of half and half and poured them all in.

I have to tell Carol about one of the pies.  It’s a no sugar pie with Splenda instead.  She is careful about her glucose levels and didn’t go with me for pie because her last labs were too high.  I’m curious to see if she would like a pie made with a sugar alternative.  I don’t like Splenda and the other nonsugar substitutes but she often uses them in her tea or coffee so she might.  It’s good to offer something like this so people can go out with their friends even if the doc says no sugar.

Back to my own dessert. Troy told me the ice cream was only $1 extra so I went for it.  After all the cobbler was $5.99 so a buck more wasn’t that much. The tart cherry cobbler was a natural with vanilla.  It was cute in it’s own deep dish pie holder just like the one the pot pie came in.  I wasn’t too thrilled with the tin foil pie dish inside the ceramic deep dish — kinda didn’t fit the old-fashioned vibe the place had going but I am guessing it makes it easy to pop out and package up to take home.  If you’re gobbling up chicken & waffles (which I so want to try — seems like an incongruous pairing), you won’t have room for dessert and that would be a shame.

My assessment: It’s very good comfort food although there are salads if you want it and even one sugar-free dessert.  They serve dinner, closing at 10pm but they feel more like a breakfast and lunch place to me. It just has that vibe especially with that kickstart coffee. It’s a Western chain but pricier than Denny’s or VI but Black Bear’s service is better than both.



Black Bear Diner
6095 E. Broadway Blvd.
Tucson, AZ 85711
Hours: 6am – 10pm daily

My related posts on my other blogs:

Senryu : pot pie (a poem)

Tutorial : when your image has the blues (how I improved the two bear cubs mural at the top by subtracting some blue and increasing contrast — a common problem when you take a photo in the shade)

Photographs by © 2018, M. LaFreniere, all rights reserved


7 Replies to “Black Bear Diner”

  1. It does seem like a breakfast and lunch place and is maybe a few bucks cheaper than a place we love with a classic diner theme. I think your pot pies look better than theirs and I love the idea of an individual pie. Wouldn’t it be nice if the one scoop of ice cream were free? They could build a franchise around something like that. I don’t think you get to deconstruct something until you prove you can make the classic version right, haha.

    1. I would love the idea of a free scoop of ice cream — I bet if place did that like a an Freebie Scoop Friday (with pie), they would be swamped. I understand deconstructing sentences to understand the structure but deconstructed food? I never did get that. To me it just means you didn’t finish making something, lol.

  2. Looks wonderful! Chicken and waffles seemed strange to me…but it’s a “thing” here in the south. In the northeast it translates to chicken and biscuits.

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