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Favorite Diners in North America


Ellen Shapiro
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And *sigh of prandial lust* Howie's.  When I was in high school, it was Howie and Jim's, and while you could get breakfast, it was primarily a fried-food and burger place for lunch and supper.  One of the guys I graduated from high school with bought it (his name is Tony) and he renamed it simply Howie's.  He's a breakfast-cooking god, a short-order artiste

I hadn't been in years - it's tiny and nothing will attract you to it.  My dad dragged me in there one Saturday morning and we had breakfast.  Dad ain't a lightweight - he's 6'3" and probably 270 pounds or so.  He orders 1 (that's ONE) pancake.  I rolled my eyes...sheesh.  I had the 'special' with bacon.

omigod. 

Dad's single pancake was 3/8" or more thick and completely covered his plate.  My eggs were perfectly done, no browned bits, shimmery perfection quivering on my plate.  The bacon?  (This was a $2.50 meal) I think I had 6-7 slices of thick-cut foot-long slices, cooked jsut prior to getting crispy.  Thick rye toast..... and of course, those little containers of jelly... :)  Perfection.

Lovely post. :wub:

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There are better Diner options driving a few minutes down Lakeville to Northern Blvd.

Maybe so, but for me, Lakeville and Northern is too close to the bizarro world of the Great Pink Brick--Leonard's.

Hey David, you stoked my memory. There WAS another Silver Moon on Union Turnpike. Near St. John's as you mentioned. What's the deal with that? Are there so many diners in the NYC environs that they had to double-up on names?

I'd happily settle for just one in my currently removed location. Whatever the fuck it was called.

PJ

"Epater les bourgeois."

--Lester Bangs via Bruce Sterling

(Dori Bangs)

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There are better Diner options driving a few minutes down Lakeville to Northern Blvd.

Maybe so, but for me, Lakeville and Northern is too close to the bizarro world of the Great Pink Brick--Leonard's.

Hey David, you stoked my memory. There WAS another Silver Moon on Union Turnpike. Near St. John's as you mentioned. What's the deal with that? Are there so many diners in the NYC environs that they had to double-up on names?

I'd happily settle for just one in my currently removed location. Whatever the fuck it was called.

PJ

He's right about the other Silver Moon near St. Johns.

There was another diner on Union in Flushing near the old White Castle, but I forgot its name.. unless THAT was the Silver Moon? All I remember was it was the first place in my life that I had kasha varnishkes. They made a good one there.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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There are better Diner options driving a few minutes down Lakeville to Northern Blvd.

Maybe so, but for me, Lakeville and Northern is too close to the bizarro world of the Great Pink Brick--Leonard's.

Hey David, you stoked my memory. There WAS another Silver Moon on Union Turnpike. Near St. John's as you mentioned. What's the deal with that? Are there so many diners in the NYC environs that they had to double-up on names?

I'd happily settle for just one in my currently removed location. Whatever the fuck it was called.

PJ

Did you ever work at Leonard’s of Great Neck? I was a waiter/bartender there during my senior year in High School and during the summers in the late 80’s. There were about a dozen of us from Martin Van Buren HS that worked there and it was a blast. We had a lot of fun despite the surroundings and made good money. It was telling that you could work a 16 hour shift and not be tempted to eat anything, opting to wait for the Scobee run at the end of the night. The only eatable food in the entire catering hall was the spanish food that the cooks occasionally prepared for the employee meals.

For those of you not familiar with Leonard’s, it is a giant catering hall on Long Island. It could host up to 12 events simultaneously, holding a total of 3,000 guests. Of course the only way to decorate a building of this scale was to do a cheap rip-off of Caesar’s Palace and paint the building bright pink........I am not making this stuff up.

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Leonards recently did a HUGE makeover and I hear they brought in some decent culinary talent:

Front%20Dusk%20Large.jpg

http://www.leonardscatering.com

Over the top, even on their website!

I love their food pictures, especially the one of the GIGANTIC pile of shrimp. Now thats what every Jewish wedding should have baby.

Leonards is right up there with the Colosssus of Rhodes, the Tomb of Mausolus and the Temple of Artemis, except that somebody forgot to destroy it.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Their web site was so funny I literally was in tears.

This is my last post about Leonard’s since it is off the topic of diners. Unless the ownership has changed, they food will not get better. I was friendly with the owners and they looked at the place as a cash cow, in more ways than one.

Leonard’s holds a specific position in the catering market. It is good for people who want a big reception and have a limited budget. When I was there, you could have a full reception (1 hour cocktail party, 4 hour, 4 course dinner for $35/pp…supplemental charge for a Viennese table with the flame of love) During the 80’s it was the Bar Mitzvah capital of NYC/Long Island, but that changed when they went non-kosher about 15 years ago. One of their three kitchens is still glatt kosher, but the food is prepared by outside caterers and just re-heated and final prepped at Leonard’s.

Most over the top wedding I ever worked was the owner’s daughter wedding. I knew it would be bad when the bride’s parents drove up in two Rolls Royce’s with HIS and HERS license plates. :blink:

Edited by NewYorkTexan (log)
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I was only ever at one affair at Leonard's, but I still have nightmares.

Those testimonials (on the website) are obviously from people who were heavily medicated.

Some real gems on that flash intro:

"Leonards does what matters most... cares."
"Have you seen us lately"
"All roads lead to Leaonard's!"

It's like a cliché circus!

Edited by jhlurie (log)

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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Did you ever work at Leonard’s of Great Neck?

Yes I did, in the 70's, but not in service. I was a whore musician in one of the many bands that sucked as bad as the food. The money was good though, which after all, is the reason for being a whore in the first place.

PJ

PS I graduated/was released from Van Buren in '73. Had to do an extra year due to bad behavior.

"Epater les bourgeois."

--Lester Bangs via Bruce Sterling

(Dori Bangs)

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There's a terrific Art Deco diner in Cincinnati, I think on the ground floor of the Omni hotel. Does anyone know this place? It's all done up in black and white and the waitresses wear the outfits and the whole shebang.

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There's a terrific Art Deco diner in Cincinnati, I think on the ground floor of the Omni hotel. Does anyone know this place? It's all done up in black and white and the waitresses wear the outfits and the whole shebang.

Is that really a diner?

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It's all done up in black and white and the waitresses wear the outfits and the whole shebang.

Oh my, Lesley. All upscale NYC diners have to SERVE Black and Whites. They also have to have Linzer Tortes. :wink::laugh:

PJ

Edited by pjs (log)

"Epater les bourgeois."

--Lester Bangs via Bruce Sterling

(Dori Bangs)

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It's been a while, but I used to love the breakfast food at the Summit Diner. There were times when the hygeine went substantially below funky (I recall one visit yaers back when there was water ankle deep in and outside the bathrooms) but the ham and eggs and home fries were always sensational.

My wife loved the pancakes, and one year on her birthday when her dad said he'd take her (us) to dinner any place she wanted, she opted for pancakes at the Summit diner. Dad was a good sport about it and we went (ever try to pick a wine to go with pancakes and ham and eggs?)

More recently, I've been to the one (is it the Lido?) on route 22 right about the Springfield/Union border - jammed to the rafters every time we've been there, and first rate omelettes, burgers and club sandwiches.

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  • 3 months later...

I luv Mr. D'z on Rt. 66 in Kingman Ariz. They have the 50's old fashioned ambiance and lots of nostalgia. They also have corn fries-never seen those anywhere else. The corn fries are served with ranch dressing and a spicy vinegar sauce. Yummy!!!

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The Clover Grill in NOLA. It doesn't look like a diner from the outside, but does inside! And the Pecan Waffles are terrific.

Life is too important to be taken seriously.[br]Oscar Wilde

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  • 3 years later...

My champ is The Middle of Nowhere Diner near West Kingstown, Rhode Island. That really is the name & it really is in the middle of nowhere. We used to live near nowhere, so we know about nowhere and it really is nowhere.

The diner opens at about 4:00AM to catch the fishing/ hunting trade as well as the cops, ladies of the evening & other assorted early risers. The booths are plastic with lots of tears & the 'curtains' are older than I am. All waitpersons have real thunderthighs & hips that would stop a battleship. The evening crowd fits that profile perfectly.

The food is classic diner. Great grilled burgers, hot turkey sandwiches with gravy from a menu that hasn't changed in umpteen years. THE best fish & chips I've ever eaten outside of England. Friday nights you could get the special for $4.95; a big bowl of chowder, coleslaw, fish & lots of chips.

Wine? Comes in miniture bottles.

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I've always loved the Martin Sexton song from the "Black Sheep" album because it references Doc's Little Gem Diner in Syracuse.

I don't know if the food's declined over the years or if all the alcohol I consumed before my late night visits there years ago affected my culinary perceptions... but it's really more about the atmosphere than the food.

These days I skip the coffee in diners because it's uniformly bad and I typically visit them just for breakfast. It's hard to screw up toast and eggs too badly - the quality of the home fries has become my reference point.

In this town I've found only one place that really serves them properly browned and extra crispy when requested that way: Carl's Kountry Kitchen on outer Teall Ave near Court Street. It's also clean and bright with good service - unlike most of the other hundred or so greasy spoon diners in this area.

excerpt from Diner by Martin Sexton

Or when it's getting late and rainy out in New York State

You hang a louie off the thru-way

And you go and grab yourself a cheeseburger

At the little gem diner off the six niner

Diner my shiny shiny love

In the night you're all I'm thinking of

Diner my shiny shiny love

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unfortunately when they uncircled the Ledgewood Circle(New Jersey) Tom's Diner also went. a tiny chrome diner with about 9 counter seats and a few booths and the best breakfast for 1.49 - 2 eggs anyway, toast, hashbrowns, breakfast meat and coffee.

my favorite diner now is Circle Diner in Netcong, NJ. it used to be a drive in and a restaurant family from Sparta bought it. it has a counter with 6 seats, a few booths, tables and in good weather outside seating. the best coleslaw properly creamy and tangy and pretty good potato salad. real fried onion rings that come out hot and crunchy and about 1/2" wide. the circle burger (1/3 lb. of meat with lettuce, tomato, pickle and a small cup of slaw, the gibby(burger, fried onions, cheddar cheese on grilled rye), or the butch(burger, bacon, cheddar cheese, fried onions and coleslaw on a kaiser roll).

they do wraps and panini, salads and chicken stuff, teas weiners and italian hot dogs, egg sandwiches and hash browns, egg creams, shakes and malts.

Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

Linda Ellerbee

Take Big Bites

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The Clover Grill in NOLA.  It doesn't look like a diner from the outside, but does inside!  And the Pecan Waffles are terrific.

Agreed. And the entertainment of the staff of quarterite queens, dragqueens, and the campy music. The food is always solid. They cook their burgers under a hub cap, hows that for vehicular gastronomy.

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