Update: This restaurant has closed.
Most people say I'm a little nostalgic. OK, a lot nostalgic.
I only tell you this as a disclaimer. That quality/personality flaw affects my view of Kitty Hawk.
I traveled to this quirky, inconspicuous spot inside the York Airport (formerly Orville's Restaurant Catering) in search of a certain dining atmosphere.
I sought a place where people can sit for an hour, eat too much food and drink too much coffee. I wanted a place that felt very York County - and by extension, very Pennsylvania.
At a relatively young age, 26, I've lived in quite a few places in this state, and no matter where I go, Pennsylvania people seem to love getting a lot for a little. Kitty Hawk reminded me of the diners in my grandfather's old neighborhood in Scranton, where we still go to eat piles of inexpensive food.
Appropriately, the Kitty Hawk menu offered an expansive selection of the typical diner food, with a few twists, such as crab cakes and higher-end steak specials.
The wide variety of clubs and melts - including Reubens and different combinations of roast beef, ham and turkey - tempted me. But deciding on something a little different, I settled on a hot hamburger sandwich ($6.95). It resembled a hot roast beef sandwich: the ground beef patty between two pieces of white bread smothered with brown gravy.
The burger tasted a bit overcooked and chewy and the gravy under-seasoned, but the hearty "side" of fries actually highlighted the meal. The browned, juicy cuts with the potato skin left on reminded me of delicious boardwalk fries. So much that I considered asking if they had any bottles of malt vinegar or shakers of sea salt. With fries like these, I think Kitty Hawk should consider putting the vinegar right next to the ketchup container on every table.
The lone, lunch-hour waitress was as courteous as could be. When I sat down, she asked me, "Can I get you something to drink a while?" I knew then I was in the right kind of place.
I find that classic York County-ism - "a while" - as endearing as some of the other seemingly nonsensical phrases spoken elsewhere in the state.
In my normal office attire - dress pants and a collared shirt - I looked more than a little out of place alongside the other patrons clothed in denim jackets or hunting caps. The meal left a heaviness in my gut, outweighing the small subtotal on my check, just as it should be.
Before I left, I listened to the group of men sitting next to me - wolfing down sandwiches, telling stories and busting each other's chops. I couldn't help but smile and feel embarrassingly wistful.
Cheap Eats is a biweekly column on local restaurants' meals for less than $10. Suggestions are welcome. Reach Wade Malcolm at 771-2101 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you go
LOCATION: 6053 Lincoln Highway West in Jackson Township
WADE'S PICK: Hot hamburger sandwich, $6.95
PARKING: Large lot
HOURS: 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday; 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
PRICE RANGE: $3.50 to $14.95
ACCEPTS: Cash and major credit card
KID'S MENU: Hamburger, cheeseburger, chicken strips, grilled cheese and spaghetti.