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Favorite Diners in North America


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I'm always a sucker for a diner, especially the shiny old diner car establishments, but often I find that the food isn’t nearly as good as I’ve romanticized. This doesn’t stop me from returning to my favorites and I wonder if any of you feel the same about diners--and cut them more slack than you would another type of restaurant--as I do. One of my favorites is Moody’s Diner in Waldoboro, Maine (www.moodysdiner.com) -- and I'll have you know that I discovered it all on my own in the 80s--long before Gourmet and Saveur.

Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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Broadway Diner, Red Bank, NJ. Packed 24/7, even open Christmas day. Great for a snack after a Willie Nelson or Penn & Teller show at the Count Basie Theater down the street...

=Mark

Give a man a fish, he eats for a Day.

Teach a man to fish, he eats for Life.

Teach a man to sell fish, he eats Steak

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One of my favorite diners is the Venus Diner in Hampton, PA, north of Pittsburgh and just off Exit 4 of the PA Turnpike. They make homemade pot pies, soups, and, of course, pies with 6 inches of meringue. One of the waitresses actually pinched my cheek one day (and I was there with my girlfriend at the time!). Here's a short review:

http://www.post-gazette.com/dining/20000825Dine.asp

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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I always try to get to Rosie's Diner whenver I'm in Grand Rapids, Michigan. They actually have 3 diners in a row. One's a diner, one's a art studio, and one's a "upscale" restaurant (this one is closed).

At Rosie's they have this great breakfast which consists of hash browns, grilled onions, sausage, eggs, and cheese with sausage gravy over top of it all.

http://www.dinercity.com/ is a great diner website. Whenever I'm traveling I try to get to a local diner to satisfy my stainless steel fetish.

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Salonica, in Chicago, on the corner of E. 57th and S. Blackstone. I don't think I would have survived college (the University of Chicago) if were not for their Athenian omelet and fresh squeezed Oj. Years ago, 2 friends and I were there. One tried to order cereal and milk. Our waitress wouldn't let him--she said it was a rip-off.

You get your bang for your buck, caring and competent waitresses, and a wonderfully diverse crowd.

Fresser--where are you?

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Salonica, in Chicago, on the corner of E. 57th and S. Blackstone.  I don't think I would have survived college (the University of Chicago) if were not for their Athenian omelet and fresh squeezed Oj.  Years ago, 2 friends and I were there.  One tried to order cereal and milk.  Our waitress wouldn't let him--she said it was a rip-off.

You get your bang for your buck, caring and competent waitresses, and a wonderfully diverse crowd.

Fresser--where are you?

I'm right here, o fellow Maroon! :laugh:

I ate at Salonica once or twice, but for the true fine-diner experience, go to Valois Restaurant at 53rd & Lake Park. All the hot-shots that arrive at the U of C pronounce it Val-WHA, but ask any Chicago cop where to find the Val-WHA and you'll get a furrowed brow and blank stare. "Oh, you mean da Va-LOYS. It's over on Fiddy-terd Street!" :shock:

The Valois motto is: "See Your Food." They serve meatloaf, chicken pot and other homemade goodies, and its virtually impossible to spend more thant $5.00 per person. Also, the Valois is about the most down-to-earth place you'll find in Hyde Park.

University students, neighborhood folk and retired blue-collar workers all mingle in a feat of urban sociology; read about the Valois in the book Slim's Table: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detai...=glance&s=books

Are you coming to our Gosford Park-themed costume party, Nerissa?

There are two sides to every story and one side to a Möbius band.

borschtbelt.blogspot.com

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FOG CITY DINER SAN FRANCISCO.

Do you really consider that a diner? I don't.

Sounds like calling the Pacific Dining Car in LA a diner.

What's the Pacific Dining Car?

It's an old upscale steak and seafood place with a very good wine list that's open 24/7 on 6th St. The 6th Street location is built in part in an old railroad car or faux r.r. car. There's also a newer branch not open as much in Santa Monica. High quality. High prices.

I'm hollywood and I approve this message.

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I have four.

Here in Philadelphia, Jack McDavid's Down Home Diner. I'm a regular for breakfast and eat lunch there whenever I'm on jury duty or fighting a parking ticket. Solid down home, down south cookin'.

The others I've only been to once, but they have the perfect feel. If I lived near any of them I know I'd be a regular.

In Owego NY, the Harris Diner. In Brattleboro VT, the Royal Chelsea. And as of yesterday, Sunday, outside of Salem NJ, the Deep Water Diner.

Harris, Royal Chelsea and Deep Water are all real diners. Proud of the heritage with no desire to cover their facade with fake stone nor to upscale their ambience with plastic wood and ferns nor their menu with non-dinerish entrees. Harris and Royal are both build of wood, curved roofs, like the inside of an old railroad car. Deep Water is an oldfashioned Jersey Diner. No added rooms. No cocktail lounge. A diner's diner.

Nowadays most diners aren't diners at all. Some don't even call themselves diners anymore. Unhappy with their lot and aspiring to a more upscale image, they gussy themselves and their menus up and in the process lose much of what it is that makes a diner so special.

Only thing worse are those nouveau diners popping up at interstate exit ramps. Shiny chrome fronts, inside a carefully planned decor that could be straight from Happy Days, and trying way to hard too be a real diner.

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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Only thing worse are those nouveau diners popping up at interstate exit ramps.  Shiny chrome fronts,  inside a carefully planned decor that could be straight from Happy Days, and trying way to hard to be a real diner.

I agree, but the new Denny's buildings are brilliant. They really project the company's intended image well. As do the Waffel House's.

Mama's Daughter's diner in Dallas.

Rice pie is nice.

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There's one on the corner of Queen and Yonge that makes the best breakfast ever. It's an open kitchen kind of place. But damned if I can recall the name!

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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One of my favorites is Moody’s Diner in Waldoboro, Maine (www.moodysdiner.com) -- and I'll have you know that I discovered it all on my own in the 80s--long before Gourmet and Saveur.

Moody's Diner is six miles down the road from me. It's such a landmark on Rt. 1 that it's how I give directions to my shop or house. As in, "take a left at Moody's and go six miles."

I don't eat there very much, but between five to seven in the morning it was the place to go for breakfast. A real meeting place where you could get the latest news (and gossip) from around town as well as a good breakfast.

For dinner, the fried clams used to be excellent but, like so many other places in Maine, they've gone downhill. I haven't had an excellent fried clam in years. I don't know if it's because the batter/breading has changed or if they don't keep the oil hot enough.

All in all though, for diner eating, you won't find a better place that I know of on Rt.1 in midcoast Maine.

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One of my favorites is Moody’s Diner in Waldoboro, Maine (www.moodysdiner.com) -- and I'll have you know that I discovered it all on my own in the 80s--long before Gourmet and Saveur.

I'm guessing there are two Moody's diners. The one open fall, spring and winter that feeds the locals and the one that is cram packed full of tourists like me come summer time. I've gone there a few times with great expectations and departed unsatisfied. Always for breakfast, so can't speak to the other meal periods.

I'm also thinking that the Moody's you discovered back in the 80's is not the same Moody's I've been in during my recent summer adventures along the Maine coast.

For dinner, the fried clams used to be excellent but, like so many other places in Maine, they've gone downhill. I haven't had an excellent fried clam in years. I don't know if it's because the batter/breading has changed or if they don't keep the oil hot enough.

Might I, a tourist, point a genuine Downeaster to The Crossroads Restaurant way up north in Pembroke ME. Some of the best fried clams I'm ever had and well worth the trek.

Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

Twitter

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The now-defunct McHenry's in Paradise, CA (where I got married, incidentally) had the requisite number of waitresses, all with teased hairdos, and the absolute best cream pies this side of heaven. And killer corned beef hash -- plus, the cook knew who to properly poach the egg that perched atop the hash!! Mrs. McHenry oversaw the dining room, while Mr. McHenry, always wearing a worried frown on his flushed face, worked his magic in the kitchen.

Edit to clarify: I got married in the town of Paradise, not in McHenry's (although now that I think on it, that might not have been such a bad idea . . . :biggrin: ).

Edited by Xanthippe (log)
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The diner in Morristown, NJ..if it's still there. Used to be great for late night cheesecake.

And I disagree, Lyle --- I think the Denny's diners are pitiful. They don't feel like a diner...and I guess that's the only criteria I can find useful. Not enough grease, not enough diner waitresses, not enough...diner. They feel like you're inside someone's cookie cutter concept --- which, of course, you are.

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Re Valois. I have only been there once and I was scared, although my server (behind the sneeze plate) did look Robert De Niro's cousin and have a lovely 3 inch scar on his cheek.

Denny's? you have to be kidding. Ugh. Overpriced. Lousy food with no soul.

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The best diner in New Brunswick was (and hopefully still is) the Bluebird restaraunt, just off of highway 1 in Sussex. Hot turkey sandwich with homemade gravy and fresh picked peas, perfectly done crinkle-cut fries and their coleslaw with just a hint too much sugar in the dressing. To. Die. For. For dessert - homemade cherry pie and strong black coffee, fuss on the side. That place was so good, I'd spin up there occasionally for dinner. Only 70km either way (and a beautiful drive, especially in the autumn).

I haven't really found a good diner in Regina, but to be fair, I haven't really looked. My favorite pub serves really good pub food and the best pint of Guinness this side of the Emerald Isle, so I've been lacking the motivation to go anywhere else...

Todd McGillivray

"I still throw a few back, talk a little smack, when I'm feelin' bulletproof..."

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One of my favorites is Moody’s Diner in Waldoboro, Maine (www.moodysdiner.com) -- and I'll have you know that I discovered it all on my own in the 80s--long before Gourmet and Saveur.

I'm guessing there are two Moody's diners. The one open fall, spring and winter that feeds the locals and the one that is cram packed full of tourists like me come summer time. I've gone there a few times with great expectations and departed unsatisfied. Always for breakfast, so can't speak to the other meal periods.

I'm also thinking that the Moody's you discovered back in the 80's is not the same Moody's I've been in during my recent summer adventures along the Maine coast.

For dinner, the fried clams used to be excellent but, like so many other places in Maine, they've gone downhill. I haven't had an excellent fried clam in years. I don't know if it's because the batter/breading has changed or if they don't keep the oil hot enough.

I was trying to be politic about it but what the hell—essentially what I’m saying about Moody’s is that I like the idea of it but the food wasn’t that great. I loved the ambiance, I loved that I just happened upon it so I felt as if I had “discovered it” and I loved that it was full of locals and had clearly seen a lot of devoted patronage over the years. I was there in the off season so it had a very local feel to it, and as I said, it hadn’t yet been written up anywhere so it hadn’t become overrun. The long and short of it was that I loved the place despite its shortcomings on my plate.

Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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I'm guessing there are two Moody's diners.  The one open fall, spring and winter that feeds the locals and the one that is cram packed full of tourists like me come summer time.  I've gone there a few times with great expectations and departed unsatisfied.  Always for breakfast, so can't speak to the other meal periods.

I'm also thinking that the Moody's you discovered back in the 80's is not the same Moody's I've been in during my recent summer adventures along the Maine coast.

Might I, a tourist, point a genuine Downeaster to The Crossroads Restaurant way up north in Pembroke ME.  Some of the best fried clams I'm ever had and well worth the trek.

The cooking is the same no matter the season. Mediocre, but better than many other diners. It is different now than in the '80's. Back then Percy Moody, the founder was still alive (in his eighties) and active in the operation of both the diner and the rental cabins up on top of the hill. He was a still a dynamo well into his older age.

One day in the late '70's when I was living in town (and he was well into his seventies) he came to my door and asked if it was okay to lay some plastic pipe across my land as the cabins' well had run dry and he needed to bring water from further down in the village. I said to go ahead and later in the day he and another man of his age came through laying down coiled plastic pipe faster than I could, though I was thirty years his junior and had laid some myself.

The '80's were also different at the diner than the '70's. Glenys Burnhiemer retired as the main cook then. She had cooked at Moody's for decades and between her cooking and Percy's drive to have the best place possible, Moody's reputation was established.

I'll have to check out the Crossroads. It's a ways down the road. I've never been that far down the coast but have been wanting to go there and see the big tides. Around here we have 12' tides, but they're much bigger down there. If you go far enough down the coast (maybe you have to go to the Canadian Maritimes) there are 50' tides. I've heard that if you're way out on the flats when the tide starts coming in, you can't outrun it. Don't know if that's true - and not planning on trying it out. For comparison, I think the tides where you are run three or four feet.

I'll maybe try out the Crossroads this summer. I sure would like a fried clam like they used to be. Last night I got to thinking that maybe the difference is that they used to be cooked in lard or beef tallow instead of oil. Anyone got any thoughts on that?

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