I have not really found a good substitute for this kind of diner in terms of looks. But I have had several meals recently at the Manhattan Diner on Broadway and 94th. The food was really good and the look, while closer to Miami beach, was pretty charming. I was also really impressed with the service.
Stay away from the Highliner. Everyone I know has had the same experience. Overpriced, low quality food. Take a look at Yelp to see some of the really strong opinions.
I think bustario is talking about the diner on 94th & Bway, *not* the diner on 77th & Bway that closed. The one on 94th is also called Manhattan.
I agree that the Manhattan Diner is pretty okay. For diners. There's also a really old school diner on Broadway at about 101 or 102 that my friend swears by, though I have not been. The look through the windows is very old school - formica tops, round swivel luncheonette counter seats, pleather booths. Can't recall the name of that place.
2532 Broadway, New York, NY 10025
Sadly, this is a dying breed in Manhattan. The old Empire Diner recently re-opened as the Highliner and kept the "look". The old Market Diner has been revamped but I'm not sure it looks the same. The Cheyenne is also gone. If you look to Queens or Jersey, you may have better luck.
572 11th Ave, New York, NY 10036
210 10th Ave, New York, NY 10011