Fine dining is all very well, but sometimes in life, only a burger will do. And at those times, our very own Andre heads down to Lou’s Diner for some of the best buns in the business.
First things first: the name of this place isn’t the name of its owner, but his daughter’s nickname. Steve Ziluni, head of this unique venue, is a 55 year-old New Yorker in love with Luxembourg. He started to travel the world when he was 21 and ended up in the Grand Duchy almost by chance in 1986. He never left.
Since then, the restaurant business has become his and his family’s passion and long may it continue to do so, for the sake of our tastebuds. But Lou’s Diner itself is a much younger adventure.
Opening its doors firstly in Consdorf only four years ago, the restaurant had a classic American-diner decor. But last year, Lou’s Diner moved to Beidweiler with a new ‘Route 66’ gas station style and it has become the go-to venue for burger lovers from around the Grand Duchy and beyond (isn’t that right, German commuters?). Nights at the Diner can end up crowded and loud, but it all adds to the vibe.
Fast food, fresh ingredients
Steve’s original idea was always to offer people something simple and affordable, a place where you could enjoy “in-your-face, sticky-fingers fast-food”, as Steve puts it. The concept was never about being fancy; but there were two big conditions laid down: everything was always to be home-made, and only fresh produce would to be used.
Their success was immediate; local media went crazy about them. They proudly top most lists of burger places in the Grand Region. Why? “Because our clients find the same quality every time they come by”, says Steve.
It’s no secret that great burgers (and burger food trucks) have become a world-wide phenomenon over the past years; and Luxembourg, formerly a pulled-pork enthusiast, has joined the trend. Alongside this, negative publicity around fast food has also pushed its way into the mainstream, sometimes making it difficult to see the bright side of an innocent burger. But Steve was always positive about one thing: “you can have fast food made with good ingredients”. That’s Lou’s Diner’s success secret.
Hot Diggety Dog! And other fast food fancies
Steve’s best selling burgers are the ‘Texas’ (smothered with BBQ sauce, bacon and onion rings) and the ‘New Yorker’ (an east-coast classic with an egg on top). Then there’s the fries. Oh, the fries! Dip them into one of Steve’s home-made sauces and you’ll be in heaven.
The Diner also sells American hot dogs (nothing like the European version) and nuggets, real big chunks of great-tasting fried chicken. From February 2016, they have a lunch menu of freshly made sandwiches, and are hoping to expand their offer for this summer with pulled pork barbecue. They also have a Fantasy Box: a special treat that changes every couple of weeks. So frequent visits are required to really get the flavour of this place.
For the record
Lou’s Diner is hard to miss. A huge burger is at the entrance already calling your name when you make the turn. It’s an all-American howdy. And the same warm welcome will be there when you go in. Steve is the first to arrive and the last to leave, because for him, being close to his clients is as important as offering the best and freshest burgers of them all. “The human element is the most important thing”, he says.
If all of this has tempted you, then go get yourself a burger at Lou’s! No need to make reservations, no need to dress-up either. You do, however, have to take cash with you because no cards are accepted. Also, don’t feel intimidated by the menu being in Luxembourgish. For Steve it’s just a matter of expat responsibility. All the staff speaks English and is happy to help you sort out your order.
“I want to be the fast food king of Luxembourg”, Steve says. I think he already owns the crown. After a burger, you will too.
All photos courtesy of ©Gerson Salcedo