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Image Credit: Courtesy of Dylan Hafer; Motion Bazaar//Ryan Gregory, Photographer

I Visited Cheez-It's First Diner, and Yes, It Was Cheesy AF

For New Yorkers, there’s no more time-honored tradition than escaping upstate for a weekend. The scenic Catskill Mountains, situated just a few hours outside of the city, provide the perfect backdrop for a leisurely weekend of hiking, camping, or just rotting in a hotel bed that’s bigger than your own (my personal activity of choice). But this weekend, I decamped from NYC with a very specific destination in mind: the Cheez-In Diner, the latest “absurdly cheezy” roadside pop-up attraction from the good people at Cheez-It.

Nestled in the mountainside town of Woodstock, New York (the namesake of the iconic festival, but not where it actually happened, go figure), the Cheez-In Diner is packed with nostalgic, Americana-inspired touches that have been infused with the spirit of cheddar cheese. An old-fashioned jukebox supplies music, but instead of inserting a coin to make your selection, the machine takes Cheez-It crackers (touted as the world’s first and only Cheez-It jukebox, in case you were wondering). Also on display is a classic pair of roller skates, but look closer, and you’ll see they have Cheez-It crackers instead of wheels. Outside the restaurant lies a pristine 1962 Cadillac adorned with a Cheez-It logo and a pair of fuzzy dice that are actually giant crocheted Cheez-Its.

Image Credit: Motion Bazaar//Ryan Gregory, Photographer

Speaking of crochet, I was immediately smitten with the adorable fuzzy Cheez-It-shaped pillows in our booth. For a few brief moments, I considered stashing one of the pillows in my bag before remembering that we were already taking home multiple pieces of merch and that I was too anxious to get away with stealing anything. The pillows are cute, but there’s another Cheez-It motif to pull your focus everywhere you look. From Cheez-It wallpaper to Cheez-It floor decals, to Cheez-It neon signs, to Cheez-It trash cans, they really thought of everything. If kitschy, do-it-for-the-story photo ops are your thing, this place is heaven.

 

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But the Cheez-In Diner doesn’t just look like a cheddar wonderland — it tastes like one, too. This full-service restaurant serves a range of diner classics, but every single one has a cheesy twist. Yes, every single one. For dishes like the “Extra Cheezburger” or the “Mac & Cheez-It,” this doesn’t take too much imagination, and the french fries (cooked to perfection, by the way) come dusted with your choice of Original, White Cheddar, or Hot & Spicy seasoning. The basics are solid, but let’s be real: this isn’t why you come to the Cheez-In Diner. 

We started our meal with the Deluxe Cheez-It Milkshake, immediately seeking answers to questions such as “What?” and “Why?” Fear not if you’re imagining gulping down an orange, cheddary shake. It’s a vanilla shake mixed with some blended crackers and a Cheez-It rim, so the effect is more textural than anything, and I polished it off in about three minutes. Having passed the first sweet treat test, we moved on to less dicey waters like chicken tenders (breaded in Cheez-It) and grilled cheese (coated with a Cheez-It crust). My favorite bite of the day was the signature biscuits, which put Red Lobster to shame (RIP)

Image Credit: Motion Bazaar//Ryan Gregory, Photographer

With the mains out of the way, we reached the final course of the day: dessert, which was in the form of the “Sweet-n-Salty Cheezcake.” I’m a firm believer that it’s pretty hard to fuck up a cheesecake, an inherently perfect food, and thankfully the Cheez-It team did their big one with this. The Cheez-It cracker pie crust added a nice tanginess to the standard cheesecake filling and topped with caramel; the whole dish came together nicely. I’m not sure the Cheez-In Diner food will be considered for a Michelin star, but the dedication to the cheesy theme is admirable, and I certainly didn’t leave hungry.

If a full meal at the Diner doesn’t fit your Catskills itinerary, there’s a free “Cheez-It Taste-It Station” on the deck, serving up samples of an assortment of hard-to-find cracker flavors. I, for one, will be launching a petition for every store in my area to carry the Italian Four Cheese flavor. You can also stock up on retro-inspired Cheez-In Diner merch, like a fluorescent orange tie-dye tee that’s practically begging to be added to your sleep shirt rotation. This Diner might only be around for a week, but that shirt (and the memories) will stay in your bottom dresser drawer for at least a decade. Sadly, this pop-up is only around for the week, but if you’re in the area for Memorial Day weekend, WTF else are you doing that’s more important than taking pictures with the world’s cutest Cheez-It pillow? 

The Cheez-In Diner is located at 261 Tinker Street in Woodstock, New York, and is open Monday, May 20th through Sunday, May 26th.

Dylan Hafer
Dylan Hafer
Dylan Hafer has watched over 1000 episodes of Real Housewives because he has his priorities in order. Follow him on Instagram @dylanhafer and Twitter @thedylanhafer for all the memes you could ever want.