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Diners - Love ‘em or Hate ‘em?

  • p

I like them.

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  1. in the Northeast-Love them...anywhere else in the US they are called Denny's...

    8 Replies
    1. re: ctmom

      Hahahahahaha - that's so true. Well, sort of. I lived in Boston and you can't find a decent diner up there. They seem to be much more of a New York thing. I love NY diners and visit them frequently. Of course, is there anything worse than a BAD diner?

      1. re: Krissywats

        I agree, New York diners are awesome. There are a bunch in lower Manhattan where I'm from, but there are some goo d true old-fashioned ones in the outer reaches of NYC (Howard Beach area, etc).

        Diner food is thought of as "low-class" grub, and I'm sure when it's bad, it's BAD.

        1. re: Krissywats

          There are a couple of decent diners in the Cambridge area. Then again, when hung over and NEEDING eggs, there is no such thing as a bad diner.

          1. re: jacinthe

            Where in Cambridge, out of curiosity? I remember S&S but that was so crowded and not open late. To me a diner is open 24/7 - but that's a NYC thing. I love Boston/Cambridge but that used to drive me nuts that I couldn't get a tuna melt at 2am. For Such a hip town they really do roll up the sidewalks at midnight.

            1. re: krissywats

              Where I grew up in St. Louis there were lots and lots of 24 hour diners. The real thing, usually near some industrial/factory zone where shift workers would get off in the middle of the night and eat--and hard-core alcoholics would go when the bars closed down. I can't say if they are all still around. Most had terrible food and even worse coffee and still worse "service without a smile"--but some had legendary jukeboxes that were untouched by time.

              By comparison, to me, diners in Manhattan always seemed too carefully constructed in their hip-unhipness...

              1. re: krissywats

                Oh yes, the lack of available dining early in the mornings *kills me. When desperate, I turn to a McDonald's open 24-hrs in Somerville, although it has a limited menu.

                I don't know the names of the diners, unfortunately.. there's one on Mass Ave just outside Harvard Square (in the direction of Central Square), and then there's one on Western (in Allston, just over the river on the way to the Stop and Shop, just past the B-school) - I think it's called the Breakfast Club, or something cute like that?

                1. re: jacinthe

                  There's the Rosebud in Davis, and there's another on Broadway in Somerville, in Teele. The Rosebud is charming, but the food is second-rate. The other is unexceptional in all ways. There are great diners in New England, but most of them are outside of the cities.

            2. re: Krissywats

              The BEST Diners are in Jersey... and I HATE those theme diners in the malls like Johnny Rockets.

          2. Down south, they're called "cafe's", or Waffle House.
            I like them, too.

            1. Like 'em.

              1. Love 'em, in all shapes, sizes, creeds and colors--from O'Rourke's traincar and steamed cheeseburgers to the local Greek Palace that's all tarted up in mirrors, chrome and pastel vinyl and has a 25 page menu. Where would we be without them?

                3 Replies
                1. re: neighbor

                  Love, love, love O'Rourke's.....

                  1. re: Rachel M.

                    I went to college in Middletown and O'Rourke's was about the only indulgence that suited a college budget. And it was great. When I was spending a semester in Europe my junior year, I travelled around Germany at the same time that an exhibit of photographs of American diners was being advertised heavily on billboards. What diner did they choose as the prime example of Americana but O'Rourke's? It made me so happy to see huge pictures of my favorite diner everywhere I went.

                    1. re: curiousbaker

                      The problem was it didn't really suit college student hours... I rarely woke up on time to get there, but didn't stay out late enough to get there when it first opened! I went to the NESCAC men's swim meet in February basically so I could go to O'Rourke's (well, and see my cousins competing).

                2. Love em - even if the food is lousy I'll get a cup of coffee and people watch.

                  I used to do long road trips with my friend's family -they are strickly a 3 meal a day bunch. A three day trip could have been done in one but they sure stopped at some interesting diners.

                  1. Oh, sure. Growing up in Pittsburgh, the town was full of great 24-hour diners, from the archetypal Ritter's, and our high school drunk hangout, The Buttery, to all the dozens of little 12-stool 3-booth places in every neighborhood. D'Burgh was a 24-hour kind of town, as it now is not.

                    On the left coast, Oakland used to be full of all-night places, Dave's and Biff's on Broadway, the Double Clutch Truckstop diner on San Leandro Street, gee, that place at Telegraph and MacArthur where all the hookers and cops used to hang out. Some better chow, some not so hot, but all of them islands of light in the dark and caffeine comfort for the night worker or the night owl.

                    1. Ever since the 1982 Barry Levinson film by the same name with Mickey Rourke I have had a love for them. We just don't have any great ones here in LA for which I am saddened.

                      1. Hate 'em. As a somewhat health-conscious vegetarian, I find few things more horrifying than eggs cooked in bacon grease, with extra grease on the side. And now that "retro" is in, tons of wannabe diners are popping up, as butterfly points out.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Grace

                          ummmmmm....bacon grease......

                          1. re: Grace

                            Is Swingers in West Hollywood, California considered a diner? It's certainly a diner setup. I like it, and it's even got some pretty healthy food on the menu.

                            1. re: Grace

                              Love'em, for exactly those reasons. Eggs and bacon were created for each other, in my book.

                              A few of my best friends are/have been vegetarians, but I usually hate eating with them because they just can't seem to eat their damn carrots and shut up. So that's another thing to like about diners: they repel vegetarians!

                              I do agree about the fake retros. Johnny Rockets - feh!

                              1. re: Will Owen

                                Wow. That was a little harsh.

                            2. Love all night diners in NY. Love roadside diners on the old federal highways. Love early morning diners that close by noon in place where workers get up early (Maine coast). Love diners in college towns that blend old-fashioned eggs and bacon with hippie whole grain breads.

                              Hate big Greek diners with menus a mile long, all items coming direct from the freezer to the plate, via the fryolater or microwave. Hate theme-chain-restaurants posing as diners, with cheesy pink and black decor and bad jukeboxes.

                              1. Love 'em. We live in southeastern PA and we take day trips that often involve trying a new diner or returning to ones we like. There are tons of them near Philadelphia and nearby New Jersey, and we prefer going to "authentic" older Diners as much as possible.

                                A wonderful Diner site we've found helpful and packed with information is linked below. Addresses and photos are available there, and we just do a map search to find our way. My only complaint about some of the older diners is that owners add on a dining room to increase space and they often have the smoking section in the old, original diner and we non-smokers end up in the new dining room-- UGH! We've actually eaten with the smokers just so we can enjoy the chrome and tile floors while we eat, and we love booths where you can also see out the windows. As someone else mentioned, Diners are great for people-watching, too!

                                Some of our favorites include Moody's Diner in Waldoboro, ME, the Mayfair and Melrose Diners in Philadelphia, the Blue Ben in Bennington, VT, and the Shawmut Diner in New Bedford, MA. While we were in Baltimore last year, we went for breakfast to the Hollywood Diner featured in the movies "Diner" and "Sleepless in Seattle". It was authentic and fun, but we probably wouldn't return for the food.

                                We also sometimes try the newer Diners with the zillion-page menus, but they aren't our first choices. (We always wonder what the kitchens must look like in those with the menus that serve breakfast along with seemingly every other cuisine imaginable-- from seafood to Italian. From pita sandwiches to prime rib. We can't figure out how they do it.)

                                The food quality in Diners can vary wildly, but we usually try specials listed for the day-- chicken croquettes or meatloaf combinations, for instance, or stick with burgers or club sandwiches if we're not in the mood for a dinner-type meal. We try to do research before heading to a new diner to see if they're known for anything special-- pies, pancakes, soups, whatever-- and order that.

                                Link: http://www.dinercity.com/

                                Image: http://www.dinercity.com/dcLogo.gif