In my opinion, the humble diner is an iconic part of US culture. So, I think that on any trip to the country you should try to visit at least one – and in New York there are some real gems.
The lowdown on diners
First of all, I’d like to just talk about how diners are different from other eateries. Over the years, the classic US diner has become ingrained in the nation’s culture, known primarily for extensive menus, relatively cheap food, booth-style seating, long countertops, a casual atmosphere and being open late into the night.
They also often have a stainless steel front – something that means you can recognise a classic diner without even having to glance at the menu or interior. Created back in the late 19th century, this kind of restaurant has been immortalised through film and TV.
Since there are such a lot of diners in New York, you’ll probably find your hotel is pretty near one. And if you’re still on the hunt for a place to stay, you can check out a decent range of options at Hayes & Jarvis.
Cup and Saucer
Where: 89 Canal Street
A tiny diner known for its small-town atmosphere, Cup and Saucer is a lovely place to begin your diner adventures. Its most popular dishes include simple classics like bacon and egg sandwiches and sausage patty and egg sandwiches, as well as freshly ground coffee and juices.
Come here and you’ll be greeted with an absolutely huge range of omelettes – including a turkey sausage, broccoli and cheese omelette – alongside club, grilled and hot sandwiches. Burgers are, of course, another mainstay, while sitting at the counter dipping fresh doughnuts in hot coffee is a great way to wake yourself up in the morning.
Good Stuff Diner
Where: 109 W. 14th Street
This is one of the best places to head to if you fancy having that quintessential diner experience. The menu here is massive – so much so that you should expect it to take you quite a while to decide what to have – and includes burgers, salads, sandwiches and breakfast platters, to name but a few.
Back in 2008, it won the Time Out New York’s Best Manhattan Diner award, which should give you some idea of just how good it is. Tempting items on the menu include pancakes and waffles – perfect breakfast fodder! – as well as omelettes, mozzarella sticks and homemade chilli.
Where: 98-95 Queens Boulevard, Rego Park
Once upon a time, the building that houses Tower Diner was a bank. What this means for the diner today is that it’s great for people-watching, thanks to the large windows that are left over from its days as a financial institution.
The menu here is mainly made up of diner classics, which makes it a really good candidate if you want an authentic diner experience. What makes this place stand out is that, while the food might not be innovative, it’s very well prepared. Since it has a particularly good reputation for its burgers (which includes the delicious pizza burger!), I recommend you try one of these.
The courgette chips (known as zucchini sticks in the US) are also well worth sampling, while the freshly baked cakes and pies are nothing short of delicious.
M. Wells Dinette
Where: 22-25 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City
Last on my list is the M. Wells Dinette, which is probably the odd one out on my list. While this looks and feels like a normal diner, the food it serves is very different – in fact, this is a really good place to come if you fancy a swish meal!
Picture by zoonbar