This week, Bobcat Diner finally opened its doors to the public, and let me tell you, I couldn’t have been more excited.  The idea of a diner opening up with UC Merced’s mascot as its name brought out school pride I didn’t know I had.  I knew I had to check it out, and so, last night I did.  Here’s the rundown:

As soon as you walk into Bobcat Diner, you’re going to be escorted to a table.  I’m serious – I only had one step past the door when a cute waitress greeted me and led me to an available table.  With word spreading about the diner on pages like UCM Classifieds, I was surprised to be able to find an open table, but grateful for one nonetheless. The mix of patrons was satisfying, students laughed over their burgers and fries while older patrons with notepads abound discussed business.  The music was barely audible, allowing the perfect atmosphere for conversation.  

I sat down, menu laid in front of me, complimentary corn bread sitting on my right. Let’s talk about the menu – I love it.  The diner’s concept is based on Merced’s most famous tagline “Gateway to Yosemite.”  On the space above the main entrance, there’s a map of Yosemite with pit stops such as “Craft Beer” and “Rotisserie Chicken” drawn across the map.  The menu itself contains ‘Guide Tips’ on how to catch your food.  Guide Tip #14 reminded me that “Spoons are only for milkshakes, not mountains,” and Guide Tip #10 taught me that “WIDE skillets are like a big plate with…awesomeness sitting side by side.” True to its Bobcat pride, the first page of the menu states the “Bobcat Oath”.

Bobcat Diner’s Bobcat Oath: We pledge to take care of our cubs and our community. To provide a place that is comfortable, with delicious food, good value and frickin’ huge milkshakes. We pledge to have fun, follow our instincts, and always stay wild.

The menu prices are student-friendly.  Burgers start at $9.99, and yes, the meal includes fries (which, have I mentioned, are delicious?). Their most popular burger is the Mac ‘N’ Cheese, complete with mac ‘n’ cheese buns, applewood bacon, spicy mayonnaise, and, of course, mac ‘n’ cheese. They also have vegetarian options, a friendly “V” stamped near items that refrain from meat.  Unfortunately, the popular vegetarian burgers like the Pesto Portobello run out quick, so get yours while you can! Other menu items include skillets (they’re full of awesomeness, remember?), sandwiches and melts, salads, huge frickin’ milkshakes, and a kid section titled “For the Cubs.” Don’t be fooled, the kid meals are big enough to fill up a full-grown adult.  I ordered the Grilled Cheese (which comes with creamy tomato soup on the side) off of the “For the Cubs” menu items and was stuffed halfway through my sandwich.  Despite my food baby attempting to rip the waistband of my jeans, the tomato soup lured me in and I dipped my grilled cheese down to the very last drop.  

The waitresses are in no rush to kick you out of the diner, and I happily patted my belly as I conversed with friends for another half an hour.  I received my bill and headed for the register to pay.  As I swiped my debit card, I noticed that they offered four different types of beer – I’m assuming those aren’t for the cubs! Note: Although Bobcat Diner plans to offer a discount for students with valid ID, they have not yet put that in effect.  

I left the diner gleaming and satisfied.  If you’re a Denny’s fiend you may want to reconsider, as Bobcat Diner easily kicked other diners out of the competition.  So, bring your fellow Bobcats out to Bobcat Diner – hurry, before the burgers run out!

Bobcat Diner is located at
The Promenade Center
755 E. Yosemite Ave. Merced, CA 95348,
directly in front of Strings.


Photo Credit: Marcus Fox

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