By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Hot Rod Diner serves up classic fare and cars
hot rod diner
Hot Rod manager Ashleigh Johnson and worker Julie Montes can be found behind the diners bar most days of the week, serving customers over-sized breakfast plates that have come to define Hot Rods Diner. - photo by FRANKIE TOVAR/The Journal

Name of Business: Hot Rod Diner

Location: TURLOCK—130 S. Walnut Rd, Turlock

                   HILMAR— 8155 Lander Ave, Hilmar

Hours of Operation: TURLOCK— 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday – Sunday.

                                     HILMAR— 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday-Wednesday; 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday – Saturday.

Contact: TURLOCK— (209) 669-3500

                  HILMAR— (209) 664-1022


History of Business: Hot Rod Diner has been a breakfast destination for Turlockers for nearly a decade, welcoming droves of hungry customers on a regular basis with a consistent combination of over-sized portions and fair prices.

Its ham and eggs breakfast special —coming in at a thrifty $4.49 a plate during the week days— and homemade biscuits and gravy are fan favorites, often turning first-time patrons into Hot Rod regulars.

“We serve the whole piece of ham. It comes with two eggs, your choice of hash browns or grilled potatoes, and then you also get toast, biscuit, or pancakes. All that for $4.49,” Manager Ashleigh Johnson said. “And our gravy is homemade with a little bit of bacon and sausage in it.”

Johnson has managed Hot Rods for nine years. Add another three years of management experience when the diner was named Nicki’s Country Restaurant, and Johnson has pretty much seen, and served, it all.

“We have a lot of regulars that come in. I’ve watched a lot of kids grow,” Johnson said.

According to Johnson the family atmosphere and tasty food have kept the restaurant competitive with the larger chain restaurants. Not to mention its beer and wine selection and frequently updated off-the-menu specials.

Hot Rods has been so successful in Turlock that its owner decided to expand nearly two years ago, opening a second location in Hilmar that boasts an 80-person banquet room and a full bar for private parties.

“In Hilmar, we also serve dinner Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights until 9 p.m,” Johnson said.

But there’s more than just food when it comes to Hot Rods. As the name suggests, there’s also classic cars.

Every first Saturday of the month the Turlock location holds classic car shows, welcoming auto enthusiasts to enter the monthly competition with first, second, and best truck prizes up for grabs. There are no entry fees. In addition to the cars, guests can also enjoy face painting, a live DJ, and a 50/50 raffle from 5 – 8 p.m. Hilmar customers can also experience the fun on every second Saturday of the month.

“We usually have a pretty good turn out here,” Johnson said.

Business Specialty: Classic breakfast and dinner fare.