128 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10003
You’ll find an electic clientele at this East Side diner, a stomping ground for everyone from teenage punks to old world Polish men showing off their sun-burned muscles in cut-off t-shirts. Patrons of Stage Restaurant fill the long thin room, lining up at the old linoleum counter waiting to be served by the infamous Chester and Roman. Though the tight quarters make it difficult to spread out the Sunday newspaper, it is the perfect place to strike up a conversation with your neighbor – when you cut the homemade pierogies your elbows will be practically bumping anyways. I have friend that swears by the apple fritters, which are made fresh daily from scratch, but I personally love the potato pancakes.
Good Stuff Diner
109 W. 14th Street
New York, NY 10011
Good Stuff Diner proudly proclaims, “It’s what we all like to eat.” You’d be hard-pressed to disagree after just a quick glance at the extensive menu. Like any good diner menu, you’ll find the standards of breakfast platters, appetizers, salads, sandwiches and dinner specials… and, of course, burgers. Check out the “Mighty Bites” (pictured), which is described as three 4-ounce burgers, each with a different type of cheese. You might expect smaller burgers, considering the $9.50 price tag, but they really don’t seem all that small once they’re in front of you; add on a side of fries and you can easily share this with a friend but still be completely stuffed.
782 Washington Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11238
Hours: Mon to Sat 6pm-4pm
It’s hard to think, much less eat, at this diner without internally humming the Suzanne Vega’s song and daydreaming about what strangers were doing the night before. My favorite time to go is on a winter afternoon when I know that I will be seated immediately and can order two eggs sunny side up with hash browns and rye toast. On the weekends the line to be seated can stretch around the corner, but luckily your stomach won’t have to grumble the whole way. Kindly waiters come around every few minutes or so with coffee, water, cookies and orange wedges. If you have a sweet tooth, be sure to try the eminent Lemon ricotta pancakes.
Cup and Saucer
89 Canal St
New York, NY 10002
Hours: Daily 7am-5pm
Website & Reviews
This tiny luncheonette inspires extreme devotion among its patrons who go there as much for the authentic décor as for the savory breakfast sandwiches. Walking in, you feel as if you have been transplanted into some small town upstate without having to sit on the train for an hour and half listening to commuters enunciate loudly over their cell phones. We recommend pulling up a stool to the beige counter and ordering a roast beef with melted swiss cheese on rye. The counter is lined with doughnuts and though they are no competition for, say, Doughnut Plant, they are perfect for dunking in your after lunch coffee.
M. Wells Diner
21-17 49th Avenue (at 21st Street)
Long Island City, NY
Just a 10 minute ride on the 7 train from Grand Central Station, M. Wells is one of those places you really just have to experience for yourself to understand – and even then, complete comprehension may not be had. It looks – and for all intents and purposes, it is – just a regular diner, but when you begin to explore the simple placemat menu, you realize that it’s so much more. With dishes like beef tartare, escargot & bone marrow, seafood cobbler and the absolute do-not-miss mushroom soup (with or without foie gras), there’s not much in common there with your average diner. But the long layout, the booth seats on one side, and the unmistakable countertop all tell you that it’s a diner; it’s only once you begin eating that you realize your eyes, they deceive you. Diner food has been redefined.
119 Avenue A
New York, NY 10009
Website & Reviews
Odessa caters to late night intoxicated East Village revelers. If you can settle into one of the window booths and contemplate the meaning of a paper napkin or the way your five-year-plan shriveled into a five-minute plan, because service at Odessa is notoriously slow. For a perfect post-midnight munch, we suggest their perfect grilled cheese, loaded up with kielbasa and extra grilled onions .
John’s Coffee Donut Shop
481 Myrtle Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11205
Hours: Daily 5:30am-4pm
The breakfast at John’s Coffee Shop is usually under the $5 mark – and it’s good. Exactly the amount of grease you want from an old fashion diner mixed with a hint of your grandmother’s home cooking, this joint is a great place to fill up before you start your day. My favorite is the veggie omelet, which will just put you back $3.50 while giving you a portion of your daily dose of protein, cheese and broccoli. Don’t forget to grab a fresh doughnut on your way out!
98-95 Queens Boulevard
Rego Park, NY 11374
See Also: New York’s Best Burgers
As far as diners go, Tower is pretty special. The building was once a bank, has very high ceilings and large windows that along one side, face Queens Boulevard so you can people watch as you eat. The menu is pretty standard for a diner, but you’d be hard pressed to order something that doesn’t come to the table made with great care. Neighborhood locals love Tower for this very reason; no matter what you are in the mood to eat, Tower delivers – both figuratively and literally. Their online ordering system makes ordering a snap when you’re in a rush; you can even schedule delivery for later if you need. Try the burger (pictured) – always juicy and satisfying, or the zucchini sticks, crisp on the outside, tender zucchini on the inside. Or have a salad: the Greek salad comes crisp, fresh, with stuffed grape leaves, olives, and a light vinaigrette that dresses it perfectly. Tower really has it all.
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Yvo Sin contributed to this article.
Maude Standish is the research director for trend forecasting company Trendera and writes daily for The (T) Files. In her spare time she tries to enjoy New York on a budget while writing a screenplay.