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where can i find a new jersey style diner in so cal


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  1. There aren't any. I grew up in New Jersey and there are no real diners in LA. There are places you can get the food -- Tallyrand in Burbank, for instance -- but not a real diner. And Kate Mantilini, which was the suggestion the last time I asked, is most definitely NOT a real diner.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Das Ubergeek

      whenever I visit my parents in Toms River I go to those places for breakfast... they have the largest display of desserts in those cases that turn around Hmm cheesecake for breakfast anyone??

      1. re: Foodandwine

        Yeah... the other night at Katella Grill I thought, "God, all they need is the jukeboxes in the booths and a revolving display case..." What a shame the food was meh.

        1. re: Das Ubergeek

          The food was "meh"? Wow - you need to go back! Maybe they had an off night or something because I have been going there for years with my family and the food is tremendous - especially anything BBQ! They also have really great breakfast skillets and omelettes that you can create yourself. I suggest you try the place again.

          1. re: HikerGrl63

            I've since been back (and not by my own choice). The service was atrocious -- they were horribly understaffed -- and I stand by my original opinion of "meh".

            You're not thinking of the Katella Deli in Los Alamitos? I like that place... the Katella Grill near the Honda Center, no, not so much.

            1. re: Das Ubergeek

              I'm guessing you must go when they are packed before a concert or Ducks game then. Like I said, I've been going there for years with my family before Angel games and have never had terrible service - you must be one unlucky guy! That's too bad - you're missing out on some great food.

      2. re: Das Ubergeek

        You want a dive diner? The Original Pantry downtown.

      3. What makes a diner "new jersey style"? I, of course, could make all sorts of allusions to Bon Jovi, big hair, and that type of stuff, but I suspect that you're describing something a bit less stereotypical than that...

        10 Replies
        1. re: glutton

          NJ-style diners are typically open 24 hours, feature a mix of booth and counter seating, have mile-high cakes and meringue pies in a prominently located display case (which might or might not feature revolving racks), have menus with a dizzying array of options (any ethnic emphasis tends to be Italian and/or Greek) that always include several burgers and club sandwiches, serve everything on the menu at any hour (except for noted lunch and dinner specials), have a senior-citizen menu on the back page of the "real" menu, occasionally feature small jukeboxes in each booth, have middle-aged-and-older waitresses who do indeed call you "Hon," serve strong coffee with unlimited refills, and are almost always located on busy highways. Let's see, I'm sure I'm forgetting something. But those are the basics.

            1. re: sku

              Negative. Dupar's is way more expensive, not very good, and their menu is about one-fourth the size. Jersey Diner menus are much more akin to something like Canter's, just minus all the Jewish Deli stuff.

              1. re: wutzizname

                Ah yes, I forgot to mention prices: cheap.

                1. re: wutzizname

                  As someone else in this thread already recommended, (irishkevbo) the Harbor House Cafe in Dana Point and Sunset Beach in the OC are probably going to be as close as one can come out on this coast.


                    1. re: Servorg

                      Yeah... it's diner food but not in a diner atmosphere. I like it though.

                2. re: katydid13

                  Not the best food in the world, but it seems to me Astro's in Silver Lake
                  - is open 24 hours
                  - has the revolving desserts case
                  - has a big menu with some Greek options
                  - serves everything at every hour
                  - not sure about the senior citizen's men
                  -No jukeboxes,
                  - Coffee is eh.
                  -Located just off the 5 and the 2.
                  Pretty close?

                  1. re: Chowpatty

                    I used to really like Astro's and its sister diner Jan's, but I feel like they've declined a lot over the last few years.

                  2. re: katydid13

                    They have sensational rice pudding!

                3. There really isn't anything identical to a Jersey-style diner in Los Angeles. Your best bet to find something similar would be to check out one of the old-time coffee shops, like Pann's.


                  3 Replies
                  1. re: DanaB

                    Earlier posts are correct in that you won't find any "authentic" NJ diners in LA, but you can find coffee shop type diners that come very close. My favorite is Nick's Coffee shop on Pico, just west of La Cienega. They have counter seats, great servers and the best bacon/egg/cheese sandwich in town. Feels like home to me.

                    1. re: PepeOB

                      And the menu at NIck's is ridiculously long. It's like a historical document featuring food trends through the years.

                      1. re: PepeOB

                        Nicks is in fact Awesome, though I can't say much for anything other than breakfast. I can say, this is THE FRIENDLIEST DINER EVER! No kidding the employees are all so kind and many of them "family"

                    2. where can you find them? jersey. they don't even call them diners out here. it's "coffee shops". i'm from jersey and i tried when i moved here 11 years ago to find a diner, a pizza joint, deli and normal east coast egg rolls. it's a no-go.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: woofer

                        The diner is a no-go, but the others are absolutely findable. Brent's for the deli, Vito's for the pizza, and a few places (search for "NY egg rolls") for the egg rolls. You can even get pork roll (Taylor ham).

                        1. re: Das Ubergeek

                          i have to disagree. brent's and vito's don't rate very highly with me.

                      2. I grew up back east and have found some places that fill the need - no where is going to be exactly the same.

                        Nico's Family Restaurant and Coffee in Canoga Park
                        Harry's in Burbank

                        They both have a varied menu, daily specials and the food and atmosphere are close to a back east diner.

                        Nico's Family Restaurant
                        7166 Shoup Ave, Canoga Park, CA 91307

                        Harry's Family Restaurant
                        920 N San Fernando Blvd, Burbank, CA 91504

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: LisaN

                          Yes yes yes to Harry's.... it's not identical, but it's about as close as this born and bred Ocean County, NJ boy has seen out here. Their hash browns are really good.... well seasoned. Order them well done.

                          Mr Taster

                        2. Harbor House in Dana Point, it's money!

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: irishkevbo

                            Harbor House is definitely not like a Jersey diner; its menu is far too small and the atmosphere is much different. I did get them to make me a passable version of disco fries (obviously could not order it as such). I've also had disco fries at Barney's on 3rd street promenade (just have to tell them what to do) that were ok. But I have yet to find something even close to a Jersey diner out here (maybe there just aren't enough greeks?).

                            1. re: joshekg

                              Harbor House has a menu that is too small? Are we talking about the same Harbor House (locations in Sunset Beach and Dana Point)?


                              1. re: Servorg

                                I think the point is that diners have odd extensions of their menu into "fancier" eats like shrimp scampi. Nobody in their right minds ORDERS stuff like that in a Jersey diner, but dinners (liver and onions, meatloaf and the like) are available if you want them.

                                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                  They do offer Liver and Onions, and I say anyplace that offers 25 sandwiches and 12 types of burgers, plus some "Chinese" dishes on their menu and is open 365/24 measures up by any "diner" standard" you might want to apply. ;-D>

                                  1. re: Servorg

                                    I agree. Harbor House has the menu of a NJ diner. I wish the Sunset Beach location had a longer counter. The NY steaqk and eggs is done very well. The Hobo potatoes are good too. I have not been to the NOHO diner for a while but they do it right also.

                              2. re: joshekg

                                Harbor House has a monster menu, I must be missing something...

                                1. re: irishkevbo

                                  It's a very specific thing, with a very specific vibe. 1,000 different tiny elements have to be there in order for it to feel authentically "Jersey"... not just the huge menu.

                                  Mr Taster

                                  1. re: Mr Taster

                                    I would agree since I've been to a New Jersey Diner. The criticism was that the menu was not large enough. Which is false. Also Besides the real italians running the diner Harbor House is as good as any New Jersey Diner I've been to. And I'll add without all the morbidly obese people in the booth next to you.

                            2. I've never been, but Beep's in Van Nuys looks like it might qualify. Anyone been

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: LisaN

                                I've been to Beeps. It's more of a fried food/burger joint. Very small indoor seating area, no counter, actually, no waitresses, it's order at the counter (or the outside window) and wait for your number to be called.

                                Pretty good burgers/fries, though. And they serve hot dogs 10 different ways.

                              2. katydid13's description, What about Norm's? Polly's Pies isn't 24 hours but that also fits . . . People cannot claim that Norm's isn't a diner. http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2006...

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: apple7blue

                                  It's not a diner. It's a chain restaurant based on a diner. It's also terrible.

                                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                    it's a chain of diners, but I wouldn't disagree with you about it being terrible, on the other hand, from most literature I read diner food described as greasy food that is supposed to taste like that, maybe it just got the wrong take in culture . . .

                                    1. re: apple7blue

                                      I spent the formative years of my youth looking broody in diners all over Central New Jersey and pretending I was a rebel for going to billiards parlours and smoking, and I can tell you categorically that the food at Norms is much, much worse than in a "real" diner.

                                      I wouldn't call La Palma Chicken Pie Shop a diner either, but Harbor House has at least some of the food.

                                      1. re: apple7blue

                                        I grew up eating in "real" diners. Norms ain't it.

                                      2. re: apple7blue

                                        Ube is correct that Norm's is not a diner. Yeah, that means apple is wrong. The history of the "diner" has been discussed here so many times. LA no longer has any diners. A diner is a prefab building with a counter and a kitchen. Some offered booth service also. Termites, development and lack of concern for history killed them all in LA. Phil's Diner is long gone because of the subway which brought a condo project. Phil's was at 11138 Chandler Boulevard, North Hollywood. I talked to the owner about it two years back. The prefab building was up on blocks around the corner. He said he was going to re-open some day. Do a search of diners on Chowhound.

                                        IMO, Ube and apple are both wrong about at least some of the food at Norm's. Maybe it is just from eating there for decades (like Casa Bianca pizza to some others) but I do like the steak and eggs with those perfect hash browns. The Googie cafe ambiance at Norm's is cool also and IMO helps make the food seem even better. The art deco ambiance of most diners also seems to help make the food seem better IMO.

                                        Diner, for pics of diners like da ones back home in NJ. Also click on "diner facts."

                                        Phil's Diner, RIP

                                        1. re: JeetJet

                                          Norm's has very good hotcakes. That's about it. The "Four Deuces" breakfast (2 eggs, 2 sausage, 2 strips bacon, 2 hotcakes -- $3.99) isn't a bad deal, particularly since you can do some subbing (e.g., 4 sausages or 4 strips bacon instead of 2 & 2, biscuit and gravy for the hotcakes). But by the time you add in coffee (a ridiculous $1.79), tax and tip, that sucker ends up costing you more than $7, and it ain't a $7 breakfast.

                                        2. re: apple7blue

                                          Norm's is as much a diner as Denny's is.

                                          Mr Taster

                                    2. I immediately thought of the Diner on Main in Alhambra.

                                      201 W Main St, Alhambra, CA 91801-3403
                                      (626) 281-3488

                                      I've only been there a couple of times, and it is not open 24 hours, but it's a decent place. They serve a wide variety of traditional diner plates and I think they do all foods at all hours and it's not too pricey.

                                      Also, in a very non-diner way, they have a full bar.

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: socal

                                        The food is inedible but Dolores' on Santa Monica Blvd. in West L.A. aspires to be a diner.

                                        1. re: Bria Silbert

                                          dolores has some of the worst food i have ever had. but it does have the feel of stopping off at a diner in the middle of nowhere. also, there menu ain't that large at, the suzy q's potatoes are atrocious and to my knowledge there just ain't any jubeboxes whatsoever.

                                          1. re: kevin

                                            There are jukeboxes at Mel's Diner . . . I should have mentioned them, their food is good and they are open 24/7. I think there are 3 around the WeHo, North LA, Sunset, Hollywood areas . . .

                                            1. re: apple7blue

                                              Norm's & Mel's are to New Jersey diners as, say, Noah's is to New York bagels, or Sizzler is to Kansas City steaks. Corporate mutations that render them void. That's not to say that some people don't find value in them. They just cannot be compared to, or substituted for, the original article.

                                              1. re: wutzizname

                                                Not that I disagree that it may be a poor comparison for what you are describing, but Norm's and Mel's are hardly corporate giants . . .

                                      2. East Coast diners originated after WWII as converted rail cars dropped along the roadside so folks could drop in any time for a quick, cheap short-order bite in a basic booth or at the counter. Simply didn’t happen on West Coast, so no “authentic” diners here.

                                        Some faux diners tho: late, unlamented Ed Devebic’s, Edie’s in the Marina, mini-chain Frisco’s in City of Industry. Right spirit, wrong vibe.

                                        Our substitute for diners were coffee shops (& to a lesser extent, bowling alley joints), many good ones already mentioned. Pann’s & Duke’s fill the bill here.

                                        In the hearts of NJ ex-pat Grubs, the closest to the diner vibe in LA is Nick’s on Spring just north of downtown. (Not to be confused with the terrific International House of Grease that is Nick's Coffee Shop, previously mentioned.) HUGE difference, however – Nick’s open only for bfst & lunch, so the whole 24-hr-drop-in-anytime thing is missing.

                                        Sadly, after 30 years of looking, we have concluded that the East Coast diner simply does not exist here & prob never will.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Mr Grub

                                          There is a converted rail car actually on Sunset Blvd, the cuisine is probably faux or not even intended to be diner chow . . .

                                          1. re: apple7blue

                                            Best chili cheese dogs in LA (others have their various favorites) by my taste buds, Carney's on the Sunset Strip, (plus they have one on Ventura Blvd. in Studio City near Coldwater).


                                        2. I’m from Jersey and have fond memories of the St George Diner in Linden. Nichol’s in the Marina, near Jerry’s Deli, is as close as I’ve found to a Jersey style diner. They have a counter with stools, serve breakfast, lunch and dinner and the waitress’s might even call you “Hun.” Food's good too.

                                          1. How about "Cafe 50's"?

                                            Haven't been for a while but it used to be decent.

                                            1. Cafe Fifty's go ot the one in Venice it's a total hole inthe wall, Izzy's ( think it's on Wilshire- West) and that other one over towards the airport off of Lincoln accross from the soup plantation...the name escapes me... Jerry's Deli...the closest stuff to east coast livin'. Believe me I searched, maybe not hard enough...this is all LA ...Oh and my all time favorite is attached to the bowling ally right on Pico and Main...OH MAN I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE that place. They also had sugar free syrup and Diet Dr Pepper...that helped...oh and their fries were BOMB!

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: bicknell_hill_sm

                                                I couldn't recommend Izzy's "Deli" (which is at Wilshire and 15th) to someone I was trying to kill. Picture Jerry's Famous Deli (and the huge menu with all the things they don't know how to make -- how can you @$#% up a pastrami on rye?!) and add in slower service, dirty booths, higher prices and you get a picture of Izzy's.

                                                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                  Yeah, that's NJ...hahaha I kidd...no but seriously that's the closest to NJ food I found out there...i.e. kosher dill, knishes, matza soup, reubens, etc...reminded me of NYC too, better then nothing i guess?

                                                  1. re: bicknell_hill_sm

                                                    Well, that's a deli you're talking about and you need to go to Brent's because it will change your mind about (ick) Jerry's.

                                                    For a DINER, though, none of those are diners. Diners are run by Greeks and feature greasy hamburgers, bad renditions of fancier food (the Galaxy II used to serve Lobster Newburg to those stupid enough to order it), gigantic salads, disco fries, incredible breakfasts and cup after cup after cup of really great coffee.

                                                  2. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                    Thank you for a lifetime quote regarding Izzy's. I actually watched a friend of mine eat a "philly cheese steak" while fat dripped and LITERALLY SOLIDIFIED on the sandwich before it could drip onto the table. I'm a scientist and I can't explain that without invoking divine intervention.

                                                    Perhaps better than that though are the "latkes" in the shape of a Nerf football.

                                                2. wutzizname added a huge list of New Jersey diners in New Jersey. Since that's bound to prompt great discussion of which ones are worth visiting, we've moved it over to the Mid-Atlantic board. Check it out here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/507782

                                                  1. Ken and Kent's in Hermosa Beach. I went with a good friend yesterday at 10:30 am. Her hubby was from Jersey and she said he would have loved it. There were 3 other tables eating when we arrived. The space is really nice, there was more seating than I expected. The waitress we had was very fun and did a wonderful job. Karen went out of her way to make our meal the best she could. We both ordered the N.Y. style pastrami. I got the half sami and a bowl of the sweet cabbage soup. So yummy, but not quite hot enough. No problem Karen took care of that lickity split. Then came the sami, I wanted a Reuben but they don't do that with the 1/2 sami. But Karen managed it for me. Friend had the reg sami, huge they are I tell you. We both had the potato salad for sides, pretty darn good. The pickles were delicious, 2 types and some tasty sauerkraut as well. Karen brought us an eclair, it was friends birthday. This sucker was huge and oh so delicious. We both loved it and are planning on many more returns. The place was starting to get a little busy by the time we left. They serve breakfast lunch and dinner any time of the day.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: JEN10

                                                      That sounds tasty but more like a deli than a diner -- pastrami sandwiches, maybe, but I can't imagine sweet cabbage soup at a diner.

                                                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                        You are right, I believe it is considered a deli. But the food offered seems more like a diner. Check out their online menu and let me know what you think. Actually, what is the difference?

                                                    2. Years ago I was in NJ visiting and my friend's aunt took us for breakfast to a diner in Fairlawn--don't remember the name. The closest thing I can think of out here, but not exact, is Rae's on Pico in Santa Monica, though not open 24 hours. Otherwise, I agree with Wutzizname about Canter's menu.

                                                      1. 101 cafe is a good bet. Get the brownie waffle.

                                                        1. Blue Plate on Montana Ave in Santa Monica has really good American coffee shop (diner) food.
                                                          In North Hollywood there is a great American food diner called Eat on Magnolia near Vineland. Neither place is open 24 hrs but the food is great at both of these places. They removed the grease from greasy spoon.

                                                          1. Try the shore house cafe in Belmont Shores. 24 Hours, counter service, great milkshake....just needs taylor ham egg and cheese