ADAMS -- The third "classic" Park Street eatery -- alongside Miss Adams Diner and the Red Carpet -- is a little farther down from McKinley's statue, and a little less obvious.
It's not a rail car or a mom and pop kitchen. Instead, the Daily Grind's distinguishing characteristic shows through right in the name -- and on the faces of its crowd of regulars.
"We're the place you might miss if you're just passing through town," Ben Acquista, the primary chef, who co-owns the restaurant with his wife, Nancy Pedercini-Acquista, said. "The police come here, ambulance drivers come here, utility guys are in for lunch almost every day. ... We try to make the people that come in happy."
Since 1997, and progressively more with the Acquistas better able to concentrate on the restaurant as their two children mature, the Daily Grind's excelled at doing just that.
Tools of the trade include deli sandwich classics and oddballs, burgers, burritos, home-made corn chowder, cream of tomato, chicken noodle and other soups, and a revolving door of dinners like chicken marsala, pot roast, pasta alla carbonara, pasta primavera and the recently created pasta carbonara-primavera, to name just a few. All are served in famously outsized portions at prices so low that out-of-towners are occasionally shocked.
Breakfast and lunch are served every day, and new to last year, a home-cooked dinner is available three nights a week on Wednesdays, Thursdays
Key to the Daily Grind's popularity is the eclectic menu, including vegetarian options and an ever-changing list of specials and added items, along with Acquista's willingness to cook up just about anything customers request.
"We're small enough that people can make those requests," Acquista said. "People like to challenge you and see the results, and I have fun doing it."
A recent example: Pot roast omelet -- requested by a customer who happened to know pot roast was on the dinner menu the night before.
Certain customers prone to culinary invention even get special dishes named in their honor if they request it enough. A side-menu of personally named dishes offers these, the most popular being the "Greg" -- a buffalo chicken sandwich with American cheese and bacon.
As far as Acquista is concerned, let the requests roll in. He finds the varying food trends and different customer requests to be part of the joy of his business.
"With the construction going on up at the high school, the workers would come in for lunch, so I got used to serving up these half-pound bacon cheeseburgers with grilled-cheese sandwich buns," Acquista said. "Then that slowed and we started getting people off the [Ashuwillticook] bike path and it turned to turkey sandwiches with dill mayonnaise and grilled vegetables. That's where the fun is. If there wasn't a shift, it would be boring."
Specials are regularly updated on the restaurant's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pages/Daily-Grind/195555873820511.
To reach Phil Demers, email email@example.com.