It’s Sunday morning at 3am, and you’ve got friends in town from God-knows-where. You’re done partying for the night, yet there are conversations to be had. And what better environment to have a late dinner or early breakfast than a diner? And not just any diner, but an authentic New York one. Despite New York’s ever-changing landscape, there are still some classics to cook up your eggs just the way you like them:
- The Westway Diner on 9th Avenue in Midtown is a go-to spot for the post-post-post theater crowds. You’ve got your standard booths, your standard throwback décor, and your standard 24/7 service. But why’s it at the top of the list? Because it gave birth to one of the greatest television shows in American history: Seinfeld. Yup, this is where Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David put their heads together to plot out the series that would become a source of pride and joy for so many New Yorkers. And yes, in 2002 the Daily News declared it the best diner in Manhattan! While it may not have retained that title for the past ten years, the aforementioned contributions to comedy trump such petty awards! (And if ya can’t make it out of bed, they deliver on Seamless!)
- Daisy’s Diner is a Park Slope institution, servin’ up the good stuff since 1932… and they deliver 24/7! Not many diners have a testimonial page on their web site, but Daisy’s does. In Zagat-arian form, one diner writes that he “usually gets the grilled cheese and this sandwich is everything you could desire from a grilled cheese sandwich.” Furthermore, Daisy’s is perfect for when you are “very drunk and very excited at the prospect of chocolate chip pancakes and spinach omelette goodness.”
- If you find yourself living or playing on the Upper East Side, then EJ’s Luncheonette, around since 1990, but might as well be 1890, at 73rd and 3rd is your spot. Though it’s not open 24/7, it does offer Blue Plate Specials reminiscent of the 1940s and 50s at discounted prices that will keep your wallet heavy. As EJ’s self-reports, “The restaurant was designed by Peter Niemitz and was built to personify the diners of the 1940’s. Memorabilia line the walls with throw back advertisements of long extinct sodas, starlets of bygone eras, famous players from the New York Yankees and vintage photographs of soda jerks from luncheonettes that once existed throughout New York City.”
- Only open from 6am-7pm (meaning you’ve got to keep partying after sunrise), Cup & Saucer is a New York classic in the heart of Chinatown, yet run by Greeks. The facade outside, with a classic Coca-Cola sign attached, clearly hasn’t been updated since the Nixon Administration, but why should it be? Where else in this town can you can a giant bacon hamburger for under $6? The place has incredible reviews across the board, so if you’re in Chinatown but can’t stand the thought of egg foo young, then get your eggs here!
- Speaking of facades that haven’t been updated since disco ruled the Billboard charts, Joe Jr. Restaurant in Gramercy may take the cake! Some say that you can’t get any more classic than this place, and the food, oh the food, it’s divine! Just a few blocks from Union Square, Joey on the grill will cook up whatever meats you crave. And the prices: Cheap!
- For those Wall Streeters among us, there are certainly days when you end up in the red. That means trading steakhouse favorites at Delmonico’s for the more reasonably priced steak and eggs ($11.75) at the Pearl Street Diner in the Financial District. This is the spot to go to escape the fast-talking suits who populate the hood. Though they certainly will deliver to the corner offices nearby, take note that they close at 9pm, so those investment banking interns will have to look elsewhere for affordable Belgian waffles to get them through the night.
- Set on the ground floor of a cute red-brick building at the corner of 70th and Lex, aka the New York Diner Mecca, Neil’s Coffee Shop attracts both Hunter College students and profs looking for a well-priced meal and neighborhood geriatrics alike. From hot open sandwiches to griddle specialties (like the Pancake Lumberjack with pancakes served with two eggs & a choice of ham, bacon or sausage), Neil’s offers no-frills staples.
- And to round out this list, on Cobble Hill’s Court Street in Brooklyn, the Cobble Hill Coffee Shop morphs you back to a bygone era with its tiled floors and old wooden chairs. The best value here? The dinner platters, all served with tossed salad or a cup of soup, potato and a vegetable. Try the authentic Greek spinach pie, the fresh roast turkey platter, or the broiled meatloaf. Yum!
- Last, but certainly not least, is Pop’s Diner in Flushing. Should you be there to celebrate a Mets loss, the US Open, or perhaps a trip to the Science Center, it would be unwise to make the journey back to parts elsewhere without a stop at Pop’s, with an art deco facade that, if it were there when Jay Gatsby was heading back to West Egg from the city, poor Myrtle may not have been stricken by that darned automobile. But we digress… Should you stop at Pop’s, don’t leave without trying the French Toast Oatmeal, a cornucopia of breakfast flavors in one!
Got other old school diner favorites? Share them in the comments below!