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Jan 29, 2013 10:17 AM

Your Orders Up! - for the love of diners

The OP on cold weather sandwiches had me remembering all the great sandwiches my family & I have enjoyed in diners..and the road food...and the pies....rice pudding...creature comfort foods for sure but diner food really is different than any other sort of food stop you can make. And, like food trucks, some diners really have exciting menus and unexpected choices and others remain true to their 50 years in the business and never change the menu (except maybe the prices!).

My favorite diner has a long list of eggs benedict selections that I'm still working through. The jambalaya benedict was the last one I tried and it was killer good, spicy and rich. They also do a hash brown that just rivals other diners-crispy outside, creamy inside potato and just the right mix of onion and grease. Another diner I love has those snap pickles and vinegary coleslaw that's worth the trip just for those two sides.

So, CH's what do you order from your favorite diner, what time do you tend to go to a diner (I'm a 2am post concert, Sunday breakfast road stopper kinda gal) and what sets your diner apart from the rest?

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  1. Not truly a diner, but my favorite place was called Mamma Mary's (formerly, Mary's Lunch) in Methuen. They were a b/l/d place open seven days.

    I used to love their "Italian toast".. two medium Italian sub rolls, cut in half lengthwise, liberally buttered and grilled. That and an endless cup of coffee was a cheap, satisfying breakfast for me during my college years.

    For lunch/dinner/whenever, I loved their "veal on a heel"....veal parm on the aforementioned roll.

    I miss that place. There's a good Italian deli there now, but still. I miss it.

    1. I don't have a favorite anymore. I learned my previous favorite in Chicago (Salt & Pepper on Lincoln & Wrightwood) closed recently :( But they had a great staff, and it was just my little refuge. I moved away in 2010.

      I would go there for lunch often, usually around 2 or 3 after the lunch crowd was gone and I always got a grilled cheese. So much so that they knew my order (grilled cheese on white with fries and a side of bbq and a diet coke). It started when I moved there and was a broke college student, and grilled cheese, fries, and a soda cost me around $5 with tip. But even after I was done with school and had a "grown up" job nearby, I still would go there for lunch with a newspaper and order it... my job was very stressful and that place was a source of comfort for me, even if for just 30 minutes in the middle of the day.

      I avoided it on weekends because of the brunch crowd, and they didn't stay open after 4pm otherwise I would have probably gone for dinner there too.

      2 Replies
      1. re: juliejulez

        Stand-up comedian John Mulaney has a hilarious bit about the Salt and Pepper Diner in Chicago:

        1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

          Ha, that's the place. The first two images shown were "my" diner. The other one on the brick building is the one up in Wrigleyville.

      2. I love diners! I am not a big breakfast/brunch fan which is lucky for me as our local diner does killer more savory dinner food and was actaully featured on the lovely Diners, Drive Ins and Dives for a seafood pasta dish which is quite tasty. They also make a mean crab stuffed chicken and potato crusted salmon. We actually usually go for dinner which is nice as it's less crowded. Oh, I forgot the best part and usually the reason we get the idea to go there. The bread!! It is only served at lunch and dinner time but they serve this basket of a bread loaf which has been sliced and the inside is soft and moist with a sweet, creamy flavor. We can never figure out what exactly it is, but I just called and apparently it's cream cheese but it seems like so much more. It is owned by a Greek family so perhaps if anyone is familiar with a cream cheese Greek bread they'd like to share the recipe.

        I am not a big breakfast food type person, but when I have a random craving we go for breakfast and tend to go later in the morning/early afternoon so as to beat the line. I will usually order a ginormous omelette (occasionally pancakes or french toast) ALWAYS with hash browns and usually with sausage or bacon and toast. I love the pile of food that greets me at the table and then we sit around and enjoy for a good while.

        I love love diners and surprisingly enough as I usually hate choice because I can never make up my mind I love the menus which are as long as a book as it gives everyone something good to order and it's usually all delicious and it's nice to try different things every time. Also, the atmosphere just makes you feel cozy.

        1. I don't get to diners as much as I like because virtually none of the diners around me serve alcoholic beverages, which is one of the greatest sadnesses of the culinary world. However, when I do go it is almost always very late morning - closing in on noon - after a particularly rough night. Most of the diners near me serve breakfast all day, and I always get breakfast at diners.

          Eggs Benedict is a favorite if done well, but I've found they can be very hit-or-miss at diners. I usually reserve Eggs Benedict for fancier restaurants or home cooking, although I have found a few diners that do EB very well.

          A Breakfast Burrito is another diner favorite. Usually, it's just meat, eggs, cheese, fried potatoes, and a spicy salsa type sauce.

          My go to, though, is simple: 2 Eggs over easy, fried potatoes, sausage or bacon, and whole wheat toast. It truly has restorative properties.

          1. Diners per se, seem to be more a northern and eastern thing. True diners are practically unknown in west Texas. We have "cafes," which are similar, but I can't think of a single joint with the word "diner" in it.