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Best New England DINER

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Looking for the real deal -- Diners that serve a great breakfast and even meatloaf for dinner !

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  1. We like Moodys and Miss Portland in Maine.
    but check out www.dinercity.com
    They list most of the old time diners around the country.

    1. I am biased, as this is my hometown diner. And I will admit, this is not the cleanest and most hygenic place to eat. However, if you want a diner where you can eat the gamut from fried eggs and homefries to meatloaf, pot roast and lobster, AND pay a ridiculously low price for it, I vote for the Farmington Diner in Farmington, Maine.
      I've also enjoyed Moody's, Henry's Diner in Burlington, VT, and the Modern Diner in Pawtucket, RI.

      2 Replies
      1. re: johnnym

        I ate at Farmington diner once....there was a sign on the wall (amongst 80 other signs) that said "we have the freshest chicken anywhere!"
        Then we looked out the window and saw three chickens running across the road. Escaping I guess?

        1. re: johnnym

          Farmington Diner is certainly cheap, but cottage cheese in the cream pitcher and the overall state of "cleanliness"? are deterrents.

        2. I love:
          Mac's in Worcester
          Miss Bellow's Falls, Vt.
          Delaney's, Chester? Vt.

          2 Replies
          1. re: mike

            I've had some really good Italian at Mac's. Not a "classic" diner (no stainless steel, it's room to cook, though), so if diner atmosphere is important - it's not here.

            That said, Mac's is good food.

            1. re: Slotkins

              Mac's Diner is not a typical Diner BUT..

              Mac's Diner, 185 Shrewsbury st. Worcester, MA: 508 868 7508
              In appearance, it looks like a diner, but bigger. But the food is NOT typical diner food. And its a BYOB, something you can't really find in Worcester. The food is not fancy, but tasty and filling. Portions are huge. We had to bring half of our dish home in a doggy bag. Originally Mac's Diner turned out no-nonsense red sauce Italian food. Meatballs, sausage, and good bread. Now they have added freshly prepared pasta dishes.
              My wife ordered 'Chicken Bon Femme,' sauteed chicken tenders that were lightly breaded, tossed with mushrooms, marinated artichokes, black olives, parmesan cheese, and garlic, tossed with spaghetti. The dish was tasty but a little dry, and would have benefited from more liquid in the sauce.
              My dish was disappointing, called a mixed grille( pork, beef, chicken, and sausage) served with pasta on the side.
              Grilling is definitely their weakness. All the meats arrived overcooked and tough. If they started with thicker cuts of meat, maybe this might not have happened, and the other strange thing... the sirloin, only 1/2 inch thick, tasted sweet. Was it marinated in a teriyaki sauce? but why? On a saturday evening the crowd was heavily family-oriented with the boisterous sound of children enjoying their night out. A Good place to take a crowd without spending too much money. But don't expect much in the way of decor, this is a bare-bones type of place. We spent $36 for two, and enjoyed our own bottle of red wine. Tiaotse

          2. These come to mind immediately:

            1 - Shawmut Diner in New Bedford, Mass. Owner Phil Paleologos does a nationally broadcast radio show live from there each morning. As a child, I revelled in their meatloaf and red jello.

            2 - A close second in New Bedford is Angelos Orchid Diner, with the best stuffed quohogs I've ever tasted. YUM!

            3 - Modern Diner in Pawtucket, RI. History, charm and great food.

            1. Miss Lyndonville in Lyndonville, VT. Not in a diner car though, if that's your criteria!!

              2 Replies
              1. re: BM

                Actually, the original part of the diner WAS a car. Sit at the counter and you can see the original outline.
                Regardless, the Miss Lyndonville gets my vote too. It may be the best diner in the world.

                1. re: Steve

                  It is VERY good, and has been consistently excellent for at least the last 25 years.

              2. Olympia Diner in Newington, CT has great meatloaf and the Olympian breakfast (3 eggs, corned-beef hash, hash browns, toast and 3 hotcakes) is not to be missed.

                Also, can't mention Connecticut without mentioning O'Rourke's in Middletown, the home of the Steamed Cheeseburger!

                6 Replies
                1. re: Rich

                  O'Rourke's may be better known for their fantastic breakfasts and unusual omelets.

                  1. re: Rich
                    Skip Lombardi

                    I feel like I'm committing blasphemey here, but I must weigh in against O'Rourke's. Before I do, though, I should say that I grew up in Middletown and have had my share of steamed cheeseburgs at 2:00 a.m. there--and I believe they're still great.

                    But over Christmas, I took my 33 year old son there for breakfast, to try to offer him some perspective on the Middletown experience. (We lived in the North End of Boston when he was growing up).

                    He ordered eggs Bennedict, waited 20 or so minutes, and was finally told that they were out of Hollandaise sauce. I confess that I forgot what he ordered instead, but he wanted it without a side of corned beef hash because he's a nominal vegetarian. They brought the hash anyway.

                    I ordered simple eggs over easy, which were fine, but along with them, I ordered a side of Colcannon. What I got was a small mashed potato patty with no cabbage discernable anywhere.

                    Finally, I'll admit, this was the week between Christmas and New Years, but for cryin' out loud, it was 9:30 in the morning and they weren't that busy.

                    It just seems to me that since they've been discovered by the Wesleyan crowd, they've let the quality slip and tried to cover it up by decorating every plate with a piece of kale and an orange slice.

                    Oh, and the price for breakfast was $19.00. My vote for a diner is the Agawam in Topsfield, Ma., but if you happen to be in Middletown with a taste for meat loaf, try the Cypress Grill on South Main St.

                    Best regards,
                    Skip Lombardi

                    Link: http://www.skiplombardi.com

                    1. re: Skip Lombardi

                      O'Rourkes used to be great after finishing bartending and a few shift drink's at John B's Cafe. Skip, do you remember John B's with the John Wayne posters on the wall? Vinny Dimauro was the owner and his daughter, Joanie also worked there. O'Rourkes was a great "late-nite" haunt in the early 80's. I went to Wesleyan, but they certainly didn't add the kale and orange slice for the bar guy or my cronies...

                    2. re: Rich

                      I'll second O'Rourkes in Middletown but it's not quite traditional but it is very good. I'm new to the area and I've seen the Olympia Diner but haven't given it a try yet but I think I will now.

                      Breakfast at the Cromwell Diner isn't bad but they have some surly waitpeople. I gave them 2 tries since they're nearby but I won't be back.

                      1. re: Rich

                        Personally I think O'Rourke's is over rated. Having grown up in Middletown its gotten way too yuppieish and is more of a bistro than a diner. Ford News, also on Main St. is what a diner should be. Good menu for a great price and you have all the locals who give the owner a hard time and doubles as entertainment. Besides, this place is where the local cops eat...and if you've seen the size of the Middletown cops you'd know the food was good.

                        Also, while its arguable that O'Rourke's grandfather invented the steamed cheeseburger the best to be had is in Meriden at Ted's on Broad Street.

                        1. re: Rich

                          Unfortunately, O'Rourke's is presently closed, having been largely destroyed by a fire earlier this year. The owner did not carry fire insurance so there is an effort locally to help him raise the money needed to rebuild. A local architect is also donating his time toward the effort. In the meantime, I understand that the owner has taken a job as a chef at another local restaurant (possibly associated with Wesleyan). I'm not real clear on the details.

                        2. I forgot to mention Haven Bros. in Providence. It is wheelrd in nightly (across from the State House?) I haven't been in several years. Definately a people watching, burger munching scene.

                          1. Saw your post on the Boston board and replied. For this board I'd mention the Sunny Day Diner in Lincoln NH on rt 3 on the way to Franconia Notch. I've had their meatloaf and would recommend it. Good fries and mashed potatos and also a good fish sandwich.

                            1. Red Arrow Diner in Manchester, New Hampshire. Had to spend a couple of days in Manchester - ate as many meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) there as I could. Uniformly good!

                              1. I'm a Moody's Diner fan. I also like the Miss Brunswick, and the Blue Line Diner in Williston VT. My arteries are hardening just thinking about the food.

                                1. Connecticut: the Vernon Diner on rt 30 in Vernon

                                  Massachusetts: the Hadley Diner on rt 9 in Hadley (owned and operated by the Vernon Diner folks)

                                  Vermont: the Blue Benn in Bennington has a great reputation and a huge variety of dishes. There's often a wait, since there are only 8 or ten booths and maybe a dozen counter seats. As good as they are, I think they're slightly overrated.

                                  Also in Vermont: The Chelsea Royal Diner on route 9 west in Brattleboro, open 365 days a year. In addition to the menu items on their site, they offer 8 to 10 breakfast and dinner specials, and also have three or four blue plate dinners every day. Because it's on the main route to Mt. Snow, they get busy on Fridays and Sundays during the winter. The link to their site is below.

                                  Link: http://www.chelsearoyaldiner.com/

                                  1. Connecticut: the Vernon Diner on rt 30 in Vernon

                                    Massachusetts: the Hadley Diner on rt 9 in Hadley (owned and operated by the Vernon Diner folks)

                                    Vermont: the Blue Benn in Bennington has a great reputation and a huge variety of dishes. There's often a wait, since there are only 8 or ten booths and maybe a dozen counter seats. As good as they are, I think they're slightly overrated.

                                    Also in Vermont: The Chelsea Royal Diner on route 9 west in Brattleboro, open 365 days a year. In addition to the menu items on their site, they offer 8 to 10 breakfast and dinner specials, and also have three or four blue plate dinners every day. Because it's on the main route to Mt. Snow, they get busy on Fridays and Sundays during the winter. The link to their site is below.

                                    Link: http://www.chelsearoyaldiner.com/

                                    1. I vote for the Oasis Diner, Burlington, VT. Only breakfast and lunch, though (and politics).

                                      1. Miss Florence Diner in Florence, MA (just west of Northampton on route 9). Nothing fancy, just a great diner.

                                        1. Carl's Diner in Oxford MA is a good one also. Huge reasonably priced breakfasts. Maybe the largest breakfast portions I've had at any restaurant.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Ed

                                            I was going to mention Carl's too. Actually, the portions are obscenely huge and two people could easily eat one breakfast, but it's great and the people working there are very friendly.

                                          2. p
                                            Patrick Emery

                                            TRY THE MODERN DINER IN PAWTUCKET, RI.

                                            1. the Blue Bonnet Diner in Norhampton, Ma has to be one of the best in New England

                                              1. Fitchburg has an old Worcester Lunch Car (#765, built 1941) in very good shape. Simple menu, good breakfast (nice home fries), friendly service.

                                                Moran Square Diner
                                                6 Myrtle Avenue, Fitchburg, MA

                                                map: http://maps.google.com/maps?oi=map&am...


                                                1. I vote for the Putney Diner in Putney, VT.

                                                  1. We never pass by the Blue Benn in Bennington or the Shawmut in New Bedford,or the Littleton Diner in Littleton,N.H. when in those areas.
                                                    Thanks to those of you who posted new places for us to try and to you PEAKS HOUND for telling us about the (www.dinercity.com) site.

                                                    1. The Littleton diner in Littleton NH has the best corned beef hash I have ever eaten--and that's saying something, since I am a "side-of-hash" hound. Great little place.

                                                      1. Jigger's in East Greenwich, RI.

                                                        1. Reply to thegolferbitch: I can't seem to reply to your post directly, so I'm replying here. Have you been to the Littleton Diner recently? I had the hash about 2 months ago and it was awful - really salty and incredibly dry.

                                                          1. The Littleton Diner is overated. I wrote this a month or so ago:


                                                            1. What is so amazing about this board and this particular topic is that I ate at the Littleton Diner three times within the last two weeks.
                                                              I too,like thegolferbitch,found the hash just great.
                                                              I had hash all three breakfasts.
                                                              Bri found the hash salty and dry and bewley,whose review I read about the Littleton Diner,has another opinion.
                                                              Taste and opinion certainly differ about one particular place.
                                                              Anyone else eaten hash at the Littlton Diner?
                                                              Understand me when I say that we all are different;no one is right or wrong here,it's just that the opinions vary so widely not just about the Littleton Diner about about so many other places.
                                                              I'm looking forward to reading what others think about Littleton Diner AND their hash.
                                                              Curious Catnip

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: catnip

                                                                When I read such disparate reviews, I really think it boils down to consistency and not taste. Because really, dry is not moist, so I don't see a lot of room for interpretation on issues as extreme as too salty and too dry. To me, that just reads as a diner with inconsistent cooks. Also, some Littleton locals told me that it has changed hands in the last few years and it isn't as good as it used to be.

                                                                1. re: catnip

                                                                  I never actually tried the hash, I'm sure it may be great. The service was good and the pancakes were fairly good too. But the place, itself, is/was a pigstye. For all the hoopla about the Littleton Diner, I thought the place would be better all around.

                                                                  I like the Modern Diner. I LOVE Jigger's. I didn't really think the Littleton Diner was all that. That's all.

                                                                2. Hi Bri, bewley, catnip

                                                                  I ate there twice last week after playing golf in nearby Bethlehem, NH. The cornedbeef hash I had was fresh and "meaty"--unlike some other hashes that have the taste bri describes, which I assume comes from sitting on the grill too long. I didn't have an issue with cleanliness, either, which is HUGE for me no matter where I dine. I can only assume what Bri suggested about different cooks?

                                                                  1. Personally I like the diners Breakfast Nook I and II and Scramblers thru ought RI (same owners). They unfortunately serve what appears to be canned hash but otherwise the food is excellent. Also Crazy Burger in South Kingstown (technically not a diner) has very good breakfast, kind of eclectic...

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: Sean

                                                                      I've been to one of the Breakfast Nook Diners. Can't remember whether it was Breakfast Nook I or II, but it's on Kingstown Road in Wakefield accross from Starbucks. It was a popular time for breakfast, and the line was "out the door". Pancakes were excellent and service was friendly. Didn't know Scramblers was related. Guess I won't bother with the hash.
                                                                      I agree that Crazy Burger, although technically not a diner, is a good choice for those who like good diner food. By the way, did Dad's place move around the corner, and is it still open?

                                                                    2. Shawsheen Luncheonette in Andover, Mass

                                                                      Excellent homemade corned beef hash and great muffins.

                                                                      1. Oh YEAH...I strongly second jackattack's comments on Shawsheen luncheonette. FABULOUS greek omelete there, fabulous and generous lunch plates, great breakfast specials....and clean, clean clean as a whistle and great coffe. I just hadn't thought of it as a "diner" per se, more as a coffeeshop but you're right, GREAT GREAT place and plenty of parking. Neat bookstore nearby, too.

                                                                        1. A1 Diner in Gardiner, ME
                                                                          Maine Diner, Wells

                                                                          Libby's Blue Line, Colchester VT
                                                                          Blue Benn, Bennington
                                                                          Miss Lyndonville

                                                                          I've had good and bad meals at the Littleton Diner.

                                                                          1. Moody's!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                                                            after that, we enjoy A1, Maine Diner wells, and Moody's again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                                                            did i mention moody's diner?

                                                                            1. Favorite Diner in NH: Red Arrow Diner in Manchester. Tumble Inn in Claremont in second place. I've enjoyed the Littleton Diner, too, but it's disappointed me a few times

                                                                              Favorite Diner in RI: Modern Diner in Pawtucket

                                                                              Favorite Diner in VT: Dan's Windsor Diner in Windsor, although I've heard good things about the Oasis in Burlington (never been by when it's open, but it looks righteous). Wasp's in Woodstock is good, too, but not open on weekends.

                                                                              1. farmington diner maine is a must.i visit maine most years on vacation from u.k. and never miss a visit to FARMINGTON DINER.

                                                                                1. Favorite in Ma. is by far the Owl Diner in Lowell, I'm completely spoiled by the Eggs Bennie - can't get them anywhere else or I'm dissappointed. (expect Rosie's in Chelmsford or Dream Diner in Tyngsboro - but only because there are all part of the same family - they know how to do their ham and hollandaise).

                                                                                  1. I still crave the stuffed pork chops from Miss Flo's after more than 20 years! Good times back in the day. :)

                                                                                    The Blue Bonnet never did it for me.

                                                                                    1. Another vote for the Red Arrow in Manchester (www.redarrowdiner.com).

                                                                                      pros: real turkey on their sandwiches. and the waitress all seem vaguely reminiscent of characters from "Roseanne."

                                                                                      the negative: no ice cream, so pie is never a la mode (semi-serious diner faux pas)

                                                                                      1. I am glad that there are still chow hounds posting and not just chow poodles who want finger bowls and doileys wherever they eat. Did you read that posting by the guy who was incensed that the veal he got at a strip mall in rural coneticut wasn't up to his standards?

                                                                                        There is a book called DINERS OF NEW ENGLAND by Randy Garbin which gives brief reviews of every diner in New England, and longer reviews of noteworthy places.

                                                                                        I look forward to reading all the comments people have sent in on this topic since I am a diner buff who has gone to every diner from Worcester county west in Ma and in southern Vt and NH as well.

                                                                                        Not a diner (the proper definition of which is a prefabricated restaurant) but noteworthy and not mentioned in a quick scan of replies so far is the Look Restaurant in Northampton.

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: mr breadpuddin

                                                                                          Pedigrees be damned -- the Look has the soul of a diner and great food. The burgers are fabulous, and the pork chops can't be beat. The fried redfish dinner at Miss Flo's is also not to be missed, and though I eat at the Blue Bonnet often, I can't say that the food is fabulous, but it is solid, comforting, familiar, and where I'm likely to go when I need to feel rooted

                                                                                        2. Just to correct a comment above: The Agawam Diner is on Route 1 in Rowley, not Topsfield, Mass. The food is average but the pie is to die for. However, I've never been to a diner in New England that comes close to anything in New York.

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: resipsaloquitor

                                                                                            I'll differ on the "average food" comment- the fried chicken I had there last summer still has me dreaming about it. Light, crisp crust with a very juicy interior. Great cranberry sauce on the side, too. But yes, I haven't seen anything around here like the Long Island diners I grew up with.

                                                                                          2. I have fond memories of The Fillin Station in (Whately?) - old diner and truck stop - had gravy fries for the first time there, many moons ago

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: tdo ca

                                                                                              That was a popular place when I was at UMass. I think it's the Whateley Diner. But I can't say it was was a good one. I went there once and ordered fries and gravy. There were little hairs in my gravy. I never went back.

                                                                                            2. I agree that O'Rourke's i very overrated especially considering the incredibly good alternatives htat are within 20 minutes of it. I also agree that the Olympia Diner is excellent although not very creative, just your standard diner fair (alhtough good muffins). In addition, one that has yet to be mentioned that is right in this area is Eggs Up Diner in Portland, CT. They have a great dish they call Southern Eggs Benedict which includes sausage gravy instead of hollandaise, a biscuit instead of an english muffin, and country ham insead of Canadian bacon. Yum.

                                                                                              The Cromwell Diner is also good but definitely not much better than average good diner food. Also, while it is debatable as to whether this is exactly a diner, Mama Roux's in Cromwell is incredible. This place is a great Cajun diner. One of my favorite place's in the area and probably a notch better than Eggs Up.

                                                                                              So, to sum up I would rank diner's in the greater Middletown/Central Connecticut are thusly: Mama Roux's, Eggs Up, Olympia, O'Rourke's, Cromwell Diner.

                                                                                              1. Is the Miss Florence still in business? I haven't been out that way in years. But never in my life have I had better fried scallops than I had there---they must have been about two hours out of the ocean and were very delicately breaded. The baked beans were great too, and the coleslaw, and the fresh fruit pies.......wish I were there now......BTW I notice in this thread how many New England diners are called Miss Something. Were they all founded by the same outfit or was it just a fashion to call them that?

                                                                                                1. There's a great diner in Gardiner, Maine, that I don't think anyone has mentioned. It's a classic stainless steel diner with all the classic dishes but there's a bit of an artsy vibe.

                                                                                                  Moody's is a sentimental favorite (it was my grandfather's local) but too touristy for me. I like the slice of local colour you get from people watching at a great diner.

                                                                                                  1. A1 in Gardiner, mentioned further up this thread. Old standbys plus homey ethnic stuff. Nice brunch menu, always hopping.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: the_MU

                                                                                                      Bringing this back up again because Libby's Blue Line Diner in Colchester, Vermont got such short shrift last time around. And because I don't think anyone has mentioned Duffy's (Route 1 near Ellesworth Maine, right near the Chicken Barn).

                                                                                                      Best things about Libby's: real pork chops with homemade applesauce, meatloaf that is well-spiced enough to wish you had it for sandwiches the next day, tapioca pudding that isn't from a can, real cakes with butter frosting, the kind of waitresses during the day that remind you of times past and the sort of wait-staff at night that know you are thrilled to see they have a beer/wine licence after a 10 hour drive from Maine with kids in the car!

                                                                                                      Best things about Duffy's: 4 kinds of pie from scratch, genuine home fries, real maple syrup for pancakes and french toast, a cook (not a chef-he'd be embarrassed) who comes out periodically to watch your pleasure as you eat what he made). Oh, yeah, a ladies washroom with fresh wildflowers in it...

                                                                                                    2. New Colony Diner in Monroe, CT. Classic Connecticut Greek Diner, open 24 hours. I've been going there for 30ish years (and I'm 30ish). Food is diner food, breakfast served any time. Prices pretty good (the bill for a Turkey Club, Steak & Cheese, Kids platter of fried clams, Cheesecake, Chocolate Mousse, & jello was $33). Most of the cakes are pretty good and they have those big cookies on the counter (they have booths, tables, and counter service). They also have those table side juke boxes $1.00 for 5 songs) which were always great for those drunk nights of my misguided youth or keeping my daughter entertained by playing with the wheel.
                                                                                                      My second pick is the Windmill Diner in New Milford, CT. Same food but jukebox didn't work last time we went (and I don't know about their desserts).

                                                                                                      1. I have to throw my own neighborhood diner into the mix here....Quaker Diner in West Hartford, CT. They're only open for Breakfast and Lunch and the food is always good. The cook is so smooth and fun to watch that we always sit at the counter when we eat there.
                                                                                                        It's also a town landmark.
                                                                                                        GO QUAKER DINER!

                                                                                                        1. I haven't had their meatloaf but Al Mac's Diner in Fall River, MA makes a mean turkey club!

                                                                                                          1. Try the Windsor Diner. Recommended by the Boston Globe -July 1999, and the LA Times June 2006 when they covered Windsor's largest event Heritage Days. The Diner which is about 90% original and restored has great food, fantastic Chilli! and serves Meatloaf for lunch and dinner if you want that. Good breakfast portions, quick and friendly service and again great food morning, noon, or night. also featured in the Comic Strip Zippy along with the Miss Bellows Falls. The Miss Lyndonville is not a Diner car, but if you are up north worth stopping............Rudy

                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                            1. re: RudyH

                                                                                                              I second the Windsor Diner as well.