something comparable to Schillers
I am a big fan of Shciller's, and if you haven't been there , you should go. (I have no idea about the "bad" you have heard...but it is crowded and they do turn the tables fast, so if you do not want to feel rushed or experience "bad service" go early or late) It is probably so crowded because a lot of people do not believe that there is something comparable. I also love Freeman's which is alao crowded...
Try Pastis, or Balthazar. Same owners, better food.
Schiller's is pretty empty and relaxed during the day. I've been twice, and thought the omelette was pretty good before I bit into some eggshell. Second time around I tried the burger, which was about Greek diner quality.
There's also L'Express (I think I'm screwing up the name) on Park Avenue South, around 20th.
I think Schiller's is great, but it's not Balthazar. The fish and chips are some of the best in New York, and I love the way they serve wine (all of it perfectly drinkable).
It is affordable, and it does get a bit nuts at peak hours. So go early, get a booth, and relax.
I don't think the burger is diner quality. And judging by the various 'best burger' threads elsewhere here, where dodgy pub burgers reign supreme, I think it's better than most.
Happy holidays Jennybart!