The Skeptical Diner: K&B Drive-In

While it may slightly exceed the mandate of this site to review a place three hours away from the metro area, hey — you never know when you might end up in Hibbing, right?

If you’re heading north, cruise on up via Highway 53. Skip the Highway 37 turnoff to Hibbing and drive another 5 minutes or so. On your right, you’ll spot an old-fashioned drive-in diner with an outdoor patio, car-hops(!) and a sign advertising broasted chicken pasties.

Pull over.

The K&B is one of those rare highway places: a classic diner that’s actually a classic diner, and not a flimsy corporate charade. Naturally, it’s chockablock with shakes and malts and fries and burgers and other assorted road-food staples.

But most exciting for a food wonk like me, it also offers a couple northern Minnesota classics: porketta and pasties. The former is also known as porchetta; it’s an Italian-originated pulled pork sandwich that comes our way via Canada. It’s typically seasoned with fennel, garlic and rosemary. The stuff at the K&B is tender, has a slightly vinegar-infused flavor, and is flat-out delicious. Served on a soft roll, it’s one of my favorite kind of barbecue dishes — delicately flavored and reasonably sized.

The pasties are less remarkable. The pound-sized pastry pockets are packed with potatoes and carrots, but the flavor of broasted chicken gets a little lost amid the starch. Gravy helps address the problem, but anytime you rely on gravy to carry a dish, you’re cheating a little bit.

Back on the positive side: the onion rings are classic. Golden brown, crisp, lightly seasoned, with snappy (not stringy) onions inside each circle.

I can’t claim to have mastered the universe of Hibbing-area cuisine. But I can say two things for certain: The K&B is an old-school gem. And Zimmy’s, the Hibbing-based Bob Dylan-themed restaurant sells four “All Along the Watchtower” coconut shrimp for TWENTY DOLLARS.

The menu also has a “‘Tangled Up In’ Pizza” section.

2 Comments so far

  1. Ang (unregistered) on July 8th, 2007 @ 12:43 pm

    I think it’s safe to say you have mastered Hibbing area “cuisine.” Although, Rudi’s has some pretty delicious food, as long as you don’t mind the wait. Service is not great.

  2. James Norton (unregistered) on July 8th, 2007 @ 5:30 pm

    I did forget to mention at least one thing, though: the Slovenian walnut postica ( at Sunrise Bakery is pretty goddamned good, too.

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