We love featuring restaurants that are small, locally-owned and family operated, and this place checks all the boxes. It’s been in the same family for generations. The building is an historic landmark and it is one of the tiniest restaurants in all of New England. So let’s get a bite to eat at Casey’s Diner in Natick, Massachusetts.
When you pull up to this place, you’ll notice something interesting. First of all, there’s no sign so you got to follow your GPS. But there is no mistaking that this is Casey’s Diner from the old school building to the classic yellow and black painting scheme to the aroma of hot dogs and hamburgers just wafting through the air.
They just don’t make restaurants like this anymore. There are only 10 counter stools in this whole restaurant. And everything is original. The mosaic tile floors, the rounded barrel ceiling, the sliding doors, the counter that’s been worn out from customers sitting, leaning their arms on them for years. There’s even an old fashioned cigarette machine in the corner.
Casey’s is famous for their hot dogs and hamburgers. But more than anything, this place is really known for its history. It all started back in 1890, when guy named Fred Casey, the patriarch of the family, he brought a horse drawn lunch wagon with four counter stools. The current structure built in 1922 by the Worcester Lunch Cart Company was acquired by the Casey family in 1925. And yes, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.
When you are sitting at the counter, you are literally inches away from the kitchen team, so you are right in the middle of the action. And the soundtrack to your meal is the sweet sizzle coming off the burgers on that flat top. Hot dogs are the number one seller at Casey’s Diner. Everybody comes to Casey’s for the hot dogs. And if you’re in the know you order it ‘all around’. All around basically means the Holy Trinity: mustard, relish and onions. This is nostalgia in a bite. That is doggone delicious.
The bun is what really makes a Casey’s dogs special because look at the container in which these are kept. This is the original bun steamer. I’m talking about 130 year old equipment. And this thing keeps the bun nice, soft, squishy and perfectly encapsulates that boiled dog. Customers typically order these hot dogs by 2-4-6 at a time, but you know who ate the most hot dogs ever here? Back in the 1950s, it was this man, a guy who goes by the nickname Tiny… perhaps an ironic nickname. Tiny took down three dozen Casey’s dogs in one seating. Tiny was the Joey Chestnut of his day and he will always have my eternal respect.
Burger time! Hot dogs might be the number one seller but I think the number one reason to come to Casey’s Diner are the burgers. These are nice big, plump, hand packed, fresh made burger patties that are cooked and sizzled right in front of your eyes on a flat top grill. This place existed before McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s were even around so these guys have been in the burger game for decades. And they’re doing it right!
Another key piece of Casey’s lingo here: “Onion In”. That means they take chopped white onions and they throw it right on top of the burger. It actually gets infused into the meat itself. So it’s a little crunchy on the outside, but very super juicy on the inside.
They do serve breakfast here several days a week, and believe it or not, this might be their most popular item in the AM: The Good Morning Burger. You have that same fresh ground, all beef patty, some nice crispy bacon, a nice fried egg, with some cheese on the soft bun. And this my friend is the true breakfast of champions. Oh yeah. So the egg ends up creating its own sauce right on top, so it really tastes like breakfast and lunch combined in a perfect way. Good morning Natick!
For dessert, you’re in the diner, you’re gonna get a nice slice of pie like this one. Chocolate cream. Very smooth, extremely rich, buttery, very chocolaty.
Only thing that can make it better. Vanilla Shake. Sorry, I’m being a bit naughty today. Actually, I’m being a bit naughty my whole life.
One thing I need to warn you about here is the door. There are two sliding doors that get you in and outside of this place. Here’s how you operate the door and Casey’s Diner. You don’t push, you don’t pull, you slide.
I always like to eat right here inside the historic building. Other people like to go just up to the takeout window. Other people would like to bring it out to the picnic tables that are open right outside. But be aware this place is cash only. I say come for the hot dogs and the burgers for more importantly come from the history, the people, the stories, and soak in the atmosphere at Casey’s Diner: one of a kind place.