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White Manna


Holly Moore
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I looked up diner in several dictionaries. And basically what they are saying is that a diner is a restaurant that resembles a dining car on a train. So that is what the original diner comes from. Other definitions have said its any restaurant with a long counter. I dont think there is a clear definition of a diner at this point. Its pretty much left up to the interpretation of the owner.

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I'm so confused! Are the other "Whites" just ripoffs of Manna or are they somehow connected? White Diamond, for one, has a completely different method of cooking the burgers (they smash the meat to oblivion) but everything else seems pretty similar.

Another question: are they diners? There is a lot of talk on the web about "what is a diner?" but it all seems to be useless. Here's one basic criteria of mine: at a diner, you order sitting down but pay standing up. Therefore, White Diamond is not a diner.

By the way i really liked your definition of diner. That was very observant.

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  • 1 month later...

i feel compelled to state that, after careful consideration, i like the white manna burger better than the white mana burger. which isn't to say that the white mana burger is not good. it is. and, in fact, i think it has a better bun-to-burger ratio than white manna's, where i find it necessary to order a double in order to avoid an unsatisfactory bun-to-burger ratio. but, the burger itself, i think, is better. and in the end, that's what matters. :smile:

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Aren't diners required to be open extremely late (if not 24/7) & serve breakfast at any hour of the day?

Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

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Aren't diners required to be open extremely late (if not 24/7) & serve breakfast at any hour of the day?

They got rid of that rule when "diners" added ferns, faux stone fronts, salad bars and cocktail lounges.

Yuck. I hate those "brown" diners, as I call them. Diners should be shiny with chrome & vinyl. When the pebbled beige & mauve floral upholstery goes in, it's all over.

Yes, I would add to my definition that you can get breakfast any time of day, as I recently noticed that a pizzeria may fit my other criterion (ordering sitting down & paying standing up). However, the 24-hour thing is optional in my opinion. My favorite diner of all time (the Royal on Rt. 22 in Branchburg) closed at 11. My friends & I always sat in the corner table & at 11 our waitress would set down a thermos of coffee, have one of us pull the chain on the OPEN sign, and we'd hang out until she was done closing. Now that's a diner.

I guess I'll have to visit them myself to determine whether the "Whites" fit the bill.

Queen of Grilled Cheese

NJ, USA

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I really contribute the ferns and the stucko outside and the attempt to "class up" the place to the greeks. My old neighbor owned the old Kings Diner on rte 18 about 12 years ago.. And i swear to god, the guys place was decorated exactly like a cheesy greek diner.

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I have been to both of them and prefer the Hackensack one. I find the burgers there

to be much more juicy than the ones in Jersey City. Also they always seem to skimp on the onions in Jersey City. Plus, I live in Hackensack, so that one is much easier. When asked to describe the manna to out of towners, I say it's jersey's version of a cheesteak. I could go for about 3 doubles right about now! Plus, they just extended their days to Sunday. Can't wait for halftime burgers during football season.

-Al

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  • 1 year later...

Schmooty and I attempted to have lunch today at the Mana at around 1:15, and we couldn't even get in the door. The crowd was unbelievable.

Is it usually this crowded for a Friday lunch or lunch in general?

Blessed are those who engage in lively conversation with the helplessly mute, for they shall be called, "Dentists." (anonymous)

Life is too short for bad Caesar Salad. (Me)

Why would you poison yourself by eating a non-organic apple? (HL)

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Yes. You should have waited out the crowd and gotten your burgers to go. Then go sit by the river out back to eat them.

Not necessary. Now we know where we'll be getting some dinner with some friends on Wednesday! :biggrin:

Blessed are those who engage in lively conversation with the helplessly mute, for they shall be called, "Dentists." (anonymous)

Life is too short for bad Caesar Salad. (Me)

Why would you poison yourself by eating a non-organic apple? (HL)

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  • 4 weeks later...

Having been to the WM in Hackensack and throughly enjoyed it, I decided on my way home this morning to stop in Jersey City and have a few sliders. I ordered the same thing- four cheeseburgers with onions and pickles with a side of fries.

From on the outset, I noticed it was going to be different. The roll looked different, and they didnt melt the cheese on the burger while grilling it. Also, the onions were diced, not sliced like in 'sack.

Brushing my doubts aside, I quickly ate all four. While I definitely liked them, and would go back, it was no where as good as the out of body experience that I have had in Hackensack.

So, on the way out, I casually asked- "Is it only the two places- in hackensack and here?" at which point I was scolded and quickly told they are unaffiliated, and that they use potatoe rolls in 'sack and not JC. While the place is worth a visit for ambiance alone, next time I am craving a slider I will certainly be back in Hackensack.

- Kobi

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Having been to the WM in Hackensack and throughly enjoyed it, I decided on my way home this morning to stop in Jersey City and have a few sliders.  I ordered the same thing- four cheeseburgers with onions and pickles with a side of fries.

From on the outset, I noticed it was going to be different.  The roll looked different, and they didnt melt the cheese on the burger while grilling it.  Also, the onions were diced, not sliced like in 'sack. 

Brushing my doubts aside, I quickly ate all four.  While I definitely liked them, and would go back, it was no where as good as the out of body experience that I have had in Hackensack.

So, on the way out, I casually asked- "Is it only the two places- in hackensack and here?"  at which point I was scolded and quickly told they are unaffiliated, and that they use potatoe rolls in 'sack and not JC.    While the place is worth a visit for ambiance alone, next time I am craving a slider I will certainly be back in Hackensack.

- Kobi

I'm with you- it's all about those Martin's potato rolls! It's amazing to hear that JC has something against them. I distinctly recall my first White Manna experience (Hackensack), and my feeling then was that I had certainly tasted burgers like that with the same flavor profile before, but at White Manna all of the elements (beef, onions, roll) had a distinct presence and texture. I think the sliced onions make a difference as well.

aka Michael

Chi mangia bene, vive bene!

"...And bring us the finest food you've got, stuffed with the second finest."

"Excellent, sir. Lobster stuffed with tacos."

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I've been to WM in Hack a number of times and they are the best. No need for seasoning, the cheese and onions are a must. I prefer singles and not doubles as I think they sometimes cook them too much when a double.

We usually go around 2-3 on a Saturday and wait for just a short time

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Never been to White Manna. And I have never had a McCDonald's hamburger either. For burgers we go to Gaffers in West Orange.

Gaffers makes a decent burger, but nothing spectacular. In West Orange, I think that Pal's Cabin makes a better burger, and if you're willing to take a 15-20 minute ride, the Franklin Steakhouse in Nultley makes a much better burger than Gaffers or Pal's.

That being said, White Manna is a different burger and different burger experience all together, and is worth judging for yourself. I was there just a couple of weeks ago, and it was delicious!

Blessed are those who engage in lively conversation with the helplessly mute, for they shall be called, "Dentists." (anonymous)

Life is too short for bad Caesar Salad. (Me)

Why would you poison yourself by eating a non-organic apple? (HL)

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Never been to White Manna. And I have never had a McCDonald's hamburger either. For burgers we go to Gaffers in West Orange.

Gaffers makes a decent burger, but nothing spectacular. In West Orange, I think that Pal's Cabin makes a better burger, and if you're willing to take a 15-20 minute ride, the Franklin Steakhouse in Nultley makes a much better burger than Gaffers or Pal's.

That being said, White Manna is a different burger and different burger experience all together, and is worth judging for yourself. I was there just a couple of weeks ago, and it was delicious!

I agree on the Franklin Steakhouse. Definitely better than Pal's or Gaffer's. Ya gotta get the angus 1/2 lb burger though.

I'm going to hit White Manna this week!

"My rule of life prescribed as an absolutely sacred rite smoking cigars and also the drinking of alcohol before, after and if need be during all meals and in the intervals between them." ~Winston Churchill

Morels- God's gift to the unworthy human species

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  • 3 weeks later...

Ok.. I think i solved the WM mystery.. The WM in JC was originally from the Worlds Fair in 1939.. It was then transported in two pieces to JC in 1946.. The main difference between the two places is the one in JC does not use potato rolls..

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Got three burgers with onions and cheese.. The cheese is on the bottom... Prefer on the top.. But still very good.. The buns were a little off today..

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The fries were absolutely perfect.. Crispy, salty, and fresh out da fryer.. An excellent version of Mc Donalds..

gallery_15057_1393_456886.jpg

Edited by Daniel (log)
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Both White Manna/Mana locations claim to be the original, which both claim was moved from the 1939 world's fair to New Jersey. The one in Hackensack has several newspaper articles on the wall attesting to its provenance. It's not clear what each of the stores was at the world's fair. They're both, according to some of the diner aficionado sites, Paramount diners built in the late 1930s. Whether either or both were at the 1939 world's fair grounds, and whether either or both served hamburgers or were called White Manna/Mana does not seem to have been definitively resolved. Apparently they used to share common ownership, in a mini-chain of five -- at least it is so rumored around the web. A lot more research and evidence will be needed before authoritative claims can be made.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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FWIW- there is an entry in the Weird NJ book that concludes with this quote:

"So which came first? It's not really important. Both are originals, and share a unique place in New Jersey's rich diner tradition."

aka Michael

Chi mangia bene, vive bene!

"...And bring us the finest food you've got, stuffed with the second finest."

"Excellent, sir. Lobster stuffed with tacos."

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So i decided to check out the other original WM.. Dont know about the history, but presently the place in Hackensack is the hands down winner in terms of burgers.. I really love the potato roll, they give you more onions, and the patty is bigger.. JC wins with pickles,fries, and the fact that they are open 24/7...

Another cute building, more cramped inside, had a stronger onion smell..

gallery_15057_1393_313195.jpg

My order was placed on the grill with a few others.. Just look at all the onions they use...

gallery_15057_1393_982601.jpg

Fries are fatter and not as good.. Just seconds out of the fryer, I am not complaining..

gallery_15057_1393_1036453.jpg

Just can compete with the potato roll..These burgers are amazing.. Oniony, juicy, a thing of beauty.. Still with the cheese on the bottom..

gallery_15057_1393_631608.jpg

Edited by Daniel (log)
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The fries are the shame of the Hackensack two-N Manna. While I haven't dined at the JC one-N Mana, I could have predicted with great confidence that any non-Hackensack two-N Manna burger place serving burgers and fries in a similar style would have had 1) worse burgers, and 2) better fries.

While there, did you check out the wall of newspaper articles? If so, did you discover any information worth reporting?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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