703 Monmouth St.
It doesn’t get much more old-school than The Pepper Pod. In business since the 1970’s, this grubby little greasy-spoon diner is open 24 hours and attracts a clientele ranging from old-timers in trucker hats to families on a budget to Southgate House refugees and the late night, post-bar crowd leaving the Levee.
Since the smoking ban hasn’t drifted south of the river, upon entering the restaurant the first thing non-smokers are likely to notice is the smell. This isn't the most salubrious environment; even if no one is actively puffing away the fug lingers as if to say, "hey, you can't get rid of me so easily!" The photos of old Newport hanging on the walls aren't simply yellowed with age, after all, there's a generous coating of nicotine adding to the patina.
Grab a booth and marvel at the authentic wall-mounted jukeboxes; there’s one at each four-top along the right hand wall, and although they are no longer hooked up to a central sound system, it’s fun to flip through the song listings for a trip down memory lane. Scanning over the red and white perforated labels, I’m guessing that the last time the jukeboxes were updated was sometime around 1987, when 7” singles were still in demand. The restaurant still has a working jukebox at the front of the restaurant – a 21st century version using CDs instead of 45’s.
There isn’t much for vegetarians at The Pepper Pod, but then I don’t expect there to be. Any diner serving “home-style cooking” isn’t going to be veggie-friendly, so if you go, be prepared for your options to be sorely limited. Me? I got the grilled cheese sandwich platter with coleslaw and fries. At under $5, it's a bargain. Other than that, vegetarians are limited to a couple of breaded and fried items (mozzarella, pickles), a side salad and a couple of breakfast items. Hey, beggars can’t be choosers.