What’s Your Favorite Diner?

Friday, Oct 15, 2010 3:00pm  |  COMMENTS (58)

During my law school years, it wasn’t unusual for me to go to a diner at any oddball hour and order a Greek salad, a Spanish Omelette, or some unreasonable trans-fat laden selection.

My most frequented haunts were Nevada Diner in Bloomfield, The New Heritage Diner in Hackensack, or Tops Diner in East Newark. These days I don’t get to diners much, but I know that some of you do, and I have no doubt that there’s some fierce loyalty out there in BaristaDinerville.

Take the poll, and let us know which is your favorite. Hot From The Kettle might just pay the winner a visit.

UPDATE: The poll is closed and the results are in again. State Street Grill (formerly Willies Diner) is the winner, defeating Nevada Diner by only one three votes. The poll did not close properly and resulted in a tie between Nevada Diner and State Street Grill. The poll is re-opened until 10:00 pm. Have at it and break the tie! FINAL UPDATE: State Street Grill wins it by 5 votes!


  1. POSTED BY francine  |  October 15, 2010 @ 4:08 pm

    Howcum Tick Tock Diner is not on that list?

    For Shame!

  2. POSTED BY Melody Kettle  |  October 15, 2010 @ 4:38 pm

    Hi Francine . . . Sorry that Tick Tock is part of this poll – it certainly is one of the most recognized diners in the country. Because of the number of North Jersey diners, I decided to limit the poll to a segment of diners in Essex County.

  3. POSTED BY jerseygurl  |  October 15, 2010 @ 4:55 pm

    Duke’s on Sunset in West Hollywood.

  4. POSTED BY Nellie  |  October 15, 2010 @ 5:01 pm

    Star Diner in North Wildwood

  5. POSTED BY walleroo  |  October 15, 2010 @ 5:06 pm

    My favorite is the Nevada diner. The dumpster out back is usually open just enough so I can wriggle in. I love the remnants of anything fried, and of course the cole slaw that no one ever eats is divine.

  6. POSTED BY Sandy  |  October 15, 2010 @ 5:12 pm

    #1, way out front is the “Maple-Leaf Dinner/Diner in Maplewood Center
    #2 is the Westfield Diner in Westfield.
    #3 The Eagle Rock Diner? I almost got tomain poison there!!
    #4. Willy’s State Street was okay, but is very expensive and is just so-so
    #5 Parkwood in Maplewood has great service and very good food, okay, extremely good food, but bring along your magnafying glass so that you can see the portions! I mean, a DeLuxe Burger comes with 5 french fries and 1 slice of tomato.

  7. POSTED BY Spiro T. Quayle  |  October 15, 2010 @ 5:40 pm

    When we lived in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, back in the 80’s (when a brownstone could be had for 1/6 of today’s deflated prices)— the local diner on Court Street was the place to eat while you were ripping out all the crummy kitchens in your TLC fixer-upper, and therefore had no way to cook, or ever refrigerate anything.

    You could tell who was kitchenless by the way people showed up for pancakes and bacon and eggs and plenty o’ coffee, wearing sweatsuits and sneakers splattered with paint and plaster.

    I vote for that place, if I could only remember it’s name.

  8. POSTED BY bebopgun  |  October 15, 2010 @ 6:24 pm

    Glenwood Diner. A true greasy spoon.

  9. POSTED BY stu  |  October 15, 2010 @ 6:25 pm

    Gotta go with the Tic-Toc. None of the others listed here even come close. And I agree, Eagle Rock is absolutely the worst.

  10. POSTED BY Nellie  |  October 15, 2010 @ 6:59 pm

    Yes, Eagle Rock is the pits!

    Another great diner is a tiny little one in Keyport called the Seaport…A lot of local color, hospitable staff, and great food!

  11. POSTED BY Nellie  |  October 15, 2010 @ 7:00 pm

    Walleroo, I’ll have to remember to throw you my coleslaw the next time I’m at the Nevada.

  12. POSTED BY Sandy  |  October 15, 2010 @ 7:43 pm

    I will share with you our experience at the Eagle Rock Diner.

    Our server brings over to my wife, myself & our son a wicker basket that I assume is for rolls, as there is 1 roll in it. Hmmm, 3 people = 1 roll. Okay, so I pick up the roll, and underneath it, hidden from view was a paper napkin with a dead fly on it. I assume it was a left over roll, from another table and perhaps the waiter slammed a fly with the napkin, and then put the left over oll on top. I assume I dumb waitress grabed it & brought to us.
    Okay, further on we ordered 3 sodas. 2 Colas 1 Root Beer. Hey, they all look the same, right? Waitress cannot remember which was the root beer. Not a terrible thing….but wait. After a couple sips I see something in the bottom! “What it Be” ? It’s a paper straw cover, ‘Ya know the thin paper straw wrapper. Tells me – glass was not washed….Yes ?? !!
    Hamberger was tastless, Downside of white bread was burnt (Burnt side down on plate…..) Wife got sick to stomac from all this & left her pancakes and had 1 soda, in what appeared to be a clean glass.

    Now then, IF IF IF you have never gone, do your self a big great deed and find your way to the Westfield Diner in Westfield.
    I absolutely guarantee it will not be the last time you go there.
    The food A+ The Service A+ The Attention to detail A+ The prices ?
    No more than Neveda, ow State Street, or Pilgram, or Maple-Leaf.
    But Westfield Diner is ALWAYS packed. Clossest thing to the Clairmont in Verona.

  13. POSTED BY profwilliams  |  October 15, 2010 @ 7:53 pm

    I miss the old Mid-Town Diner on Church St. That was my spot a few years back.

    And of course the old Primrose next to MSC(not U).

  14. POSTED BY PAZ  |  October 15, 2010 @ 8:35 pm

    Just came back in my time Tardis from the White Clock Diner circa 1964…. Belleville Pike & River Rd. Glancing out the window while glomming down a burger, I saw my old girlfriend heading over to the bowling alley with the guy who stole her away….He had a driver’s license.

  15. POSTED BY Georgette Gilmore  |  October 16, 2010 @ 7:48 am

    I like Tick-Tock and Lyndhurst diner was very good, but I haven’t been back in awhile. Star Diner in Union City may be the best in NJ. I used to work right next door and ate there a lot. Growing up, my father worked in practically every diner in NYC–He’s Greek. I grew up in diners and to this day, a Chesseburger Deluxe is one of my favorite meals.

  16. POSTED BY walleroo  |  October 16, 2010 @ 9:35 am

    About fifteen years ago, the Verona diner on Bloomfield Ave was terrific. It was a little family run place, with fresh food and prompt, friendly service. We used to go there all the time when the kids were little. At some point new owners must have taken over, because it went down a few notches.

  17. POSTED BY exmtclrperson  |  October 16, 2010 @ 9:47 am

    The now gone Moondance Diner that was in Soho.

  18. POSTED BY exmtclrperson  |  October 16, 2010 @ 9:52 am

    Just thought of another though, the one on Route 46 west (is it called Park West?) Not sure if that’s Little Falls.

  19. POSTED BY PAZ  |  October 16, 2010 @ 10:02 am

    exmtclrperson…..I believe you are talking about the old “Golden Skillet” which is now Park West.

  20. POSTED BY walleroo  |  October 16, 2010 @ 10:15 am

    Don’t forget Six Brothers in Little Falls. Great burgers.

  21. POSTED BY exmtclrperson  |  October 16, 2010 @ 10:33 am

    Paz. Do you think I mean Golden Skillet because it has a better food reputation? I like Park West because they have more than one choice for vegetarians. (-: Not traditional diner food, true, but, thankful for the newer options.

    Walleroo. I do have good memories of Six Brothers as well.

  22. POSTED BY monty  |  October 16, 2010 @ 10:57 am

    How could you not include Montclair Char-Broil on Valley Rd. Upper Montclair?????????? Gus is #1 !!!!!!!! Please do not say that it’s because it does not have the word “diner” in the name.

    “These days I don’t get to diners much but I know some of you do”

    Gee, thanks Melody. I almost thought you had forgotten about those of us who are not as enlightened as you.

  23. POSTED BY nick danger  |  October 16, 2010 @ 11:30 am

    Diner = open 7x24x365

  24. POSTED BY Sandy  |  October 16, 2010 @ 11:44 am

    I think the old Clarmont Diner @ Blmfd. Ave. & Rt 23 was a 24 hr deal.
    Westfield dances until 2AM

  25. POSTED BY monty  |  October 16, 2010 @ 2:53 pm

    Re: Nick Danger- Most of the diners listed above are not 24/7 365.

  26. POSTED BY DagT  |  October 16, 2010 @ 6:11 pm

    @Spiro T. Quayle Can’t think of the name of that diner but was Sal’s Pizza still there when you lived in CG? Eons ago I used to walk to Court St. just to have the pizza.

    Brooklyn Rocks!

  27. POSTED BY Spiro T. Quayle  |  October 16, 2010 @ 6:47 pm

    Dag, I wish I could remember the names!
    There were (naturally) several pizzarias back then in Carroll Gardens, along with Italian delis, bakeries, butchers, and so on. The one pizzaria I remember was in fact on Court Street, west side of the street, somewhere around 3rd Place. The name escapes me, but it had pictures of Bari all over the wall, apparently the Italian town that many of those folks originally came from.
    Brooklyn does indeed rock, you are 1000% right.

  28. POSTED BY Melody Kettle  |  October 16, 2010 @ 7:40 pm

    Hi Monty . . . I love the Char-Broil too. It’s not in this poll because I plan to include it an upcoming “casual eatery” poll. Thanks for your feedback.

  29. POSTED BY PAZ  |  October 16, 2010 @ 8:41 pm

    Went to The Cutting Board today. it should have been on the list. 24 hrs. or not.

  30. POSTED BY unmitigated gall  |  October 16, 2010 @ 11:24 pm

    Wow, there’s not a lot of love for the Eagle Rock diner. I haven’t been there in decades but when the Creation night club was next door(where the office building is now), it was a good place to get food after a night of clubbing. Of course, any food tastes good when you’re 20 and have been drinking.

    I too used to frequent Tops when I went to school in Newark and I can’t believe they have a web site which makes the place look great.

  31. POSTED BY jerseyrn4726  |  October 16, 2010 @ 11:47 pm

    Sorry, Paz, it was the “Golden Star,” not the Golden Skillet. And you could walk to the Great Eastern from the back of it.

  32. POSTED BY nazlo  |  October 17, 2010 @ 7:59 am

    used to go to Willie’s all the time, but we don’t care much for SSG, so it’s either Harris – a real classic, or Nutley Diner

    I regret that I never ate at The Short Stop Diner before it became just another Dunkin’ Donuts

    btw – I don’t require that diners be open 24/7, but if you aren’t open by 6 a.m., don’t bother opening until 11. Do you hear me Millburn & Livingston Diners??

  33. POSTED BY PAZ  |  October 17, 2010 @ 9:05 am

    Thanks JG….Great Eastern Mills….A blast from the past.

  34. POSTED BY monty  |  October 17, 2010 @ 5:30 pm

    Melody, thanks for clearing that up. I look forward to your report on casual eateries.

  35. POSTED BY Melody Kettle  |  October 17, 2010 @ 6:38 pm

    State Street Willies is the winner. Hot From The Kettle will be calling on them soon. Thanks for your all votes and your comments.

  36. POSTED BY Debbie Galant  |  October 17, 2010 @ 7:55 pm

    Wow, that was a squeaker between State Street and Nevada!

  37. POSTED BY sixtyfive  |  October 17, 2010 @ 11:38 pm

    I voted for State St, but my REAL favorite (admittedly a bit outside Baristaville) is the Ritz on Route 10 in Livingston (just E of Livingston Ave).

  38. POSTED BY Sandy  |  October 18, 2010 @ 12:00 am

    Been t the Ritz 3 times. I found it to be “okay” ~ but not terrific.
    Food is ok, but sorta on the bland side. They only are able to carry-on because the Clairmont Diner is long gone.

  39. POSTED BY Sandy  |  October 18, 2010 @ 1:30 am

    Just realized something… In all of this, NOBODY mentioned the
    great Grandfather of all Diners…..
    The Weequahic Diner !!

  40. POSTED BY herbeverschmel  |  October 18, 2010 @ 7:38 am

    The old Kless Diner in Irvington was my favorite. Then the Lexington Diner in Clifton.

  41. POSTED BY walleroo  |  October 18, 2010 @ 8:17 am

    The lucky winner gets a poster-size, autographed copy of Melody’s avatar.

  42. POSTED BY Conan  |  October 18, 2010 @ 8:46 am

    Not a big fan of Six Brothers — food was just okay, the service was horrid, and the price was high. Nevada is my favorite in Baristaville, but the Versailles on Route 46 East in Fairfield (aka the “Cocktails” Diner — Cocktails being the most prominent word on their neon sign) wins first prize in my stumbling tour of Essex County diners. Order the Challah French Toast and you will get about half a pound of crisp bacon with the three thick slices of egg bread. And they make a wicked good Bloody Mary, too.

  43. POSTED BY mojoe  |  October 18, 2010 @ 11:07 am

    If only the Nevada had a liquor license, I’d consider going back. The food is pretty good there too. No one mentioned the Pilgrim in this post. It does have a liquor license and the food is comparable to the Nevada or better. I find the wait staff to be very friendly and prompt.

  44. POSTED BY cathar  |  October 18, 2010 @ 11:08 am

    The diner with the best food in this state – and this is by a wide margin – is of course the Skylark Diner on Route 1N near Rutgers; this is the diner whose menu is now overseen by Craig Shelton, formerly of the Ryland Inn.

    Prices are $1-2 above what they’d generally be at other diners in-state, but eminently worth it. The pains the Skylark now takes with even a humble cheese omeletter are amazing.

    That said, no, it is not where to head with your fellow Harley riders at 2AM to hang aimlessly for a few more hours. But the food is amazing.

  45. POSTED BY Sandy  |  October 18, 2010 @ 12:21 pm

    Melody, did you ever go to the Weequahic Diner ?
    There were 100s of newspaper write-ups on it over the years.

  46. POSTED BY Melody Kettle  |  October 18, 2010 @ 1:50 pm

    Hi Sandy,

    Sorry to say, I’ve never been there.

  47. POSTED BY snyguy75  |  October 18, 2010 @ 3:51 pm

    My family, friends & I went to Nevada all our lives until one night a few years ago my wife and I went there for dinner and was served nasty, rancid chicken. We tried to send it back but one of the familiar owners came over with the plate, put it back in front of my wife and told her to eat it, he wasn’t taking it back. A loud argument followed and naturally, we haven’t gone back since.
    After seeing how they treat long time, loyal customers I wouldn’t step back in the Nevada Diner if you paid me.
    Now it’s straight to the State St. Grille for me. Food is much better, atmosphere is nicer and the decor newer.

  48. POSTED BY Melody Kettle  |  October 18, 2010 @ 4:14 pm

    Sorry All,

    I didn’t close the poll properly, and as a result it ended in a tie between Nevada and State Street Willies. Because I can’t make the call between the two diners, Baristaville needs to break the tie. I’ve reopened the poll until 10 tonight.

  49. POSTED BY Sandy  |  October 18, 2010 @ 6:22 pm

    I duuno…I have been to both, each about 3 to 4 times. Not goinf back to either of them. Rather go up to Pals Cabin, or Maple Leaf Diner, or the Ritz in Livingston. Between the two so-so(s) listed I’d go to Willies State Street and pray for good food.

  50. POSTED BY Sandy  |  October 18, 2010 @ 6:35 pm

    Melody, my wife informs me that the Weequahic Diner closed “about 15 years ago”. and she said that since you are in your late 20s, you would have never been there! 🙂

  51. POSTED BY Melody Kettle  |  October 18, 2010 @ 7:13 pm

    Thanks for the info Sandy. I did a bit of searching suspected such. And btw, I’m 30.

  52. POSTED BY Melody Kettle  |  October 18, 2010 @ 8:18 pm

    What about the Bendix Diner? I remember it . . . somewhat vaguely.

  53. POSTED BY Sandy  |  October 18, 2010 @ 8:26 pm

    Never heard of it.
    Went to Pals Cabin today for linch. Still have the THE best Burgers in all of Essex County. Order the smaller one!! The bigger one is plain nuts.
    I could not finish the smaller one and i am a pig!
    WARNING: Very long wait from order to table, as e’thing is cooked when you order. Nothig is kept “hot” under “heat-Lamps” ~

  54. POSTED BY Melody Kettle  |  October 18, 2010 @ 8:48 pm

    I seem to remember this burger discussion. Perhaps we should have a “Best Baristaville Burger” Poll? I’ve only been to Pal’s once, and that was about seven years ago. I might be due.

  55. POSTED BY Sandy  |  October 19, 2010 @ 10:14 am

    Go. Order the smaller burger. You probably will not be able to finish it.
    It comes with the smallest micro-mini cup of cole slaw and Fries. I asked for F.F. onion rings in lieu of the Fries. I was given 3 rings.
    It’s all about THE burger, there. It is unique.

  56. POSTED BY Sandy  |  October 19, 2010 @ 10:16 am

    PS / Yesterday was my wife’s birthday. I asked her where she would like to go to lunch, and I added, “Anywhere you want, is fine”. She chose Pals, ’cause she wanted a burger.

  57. POSTED BY walleroo  |  October 19, 2010 @ 11:26 am

    During my medical school years, before I had perfected my patented technique for removing brain tumors without damaging the surrounding tissue, it wasn’t unusual for me to go to a diner at any oddball hour and order a tub of lard, a cup of dish water, or some moldy bread.

    These days, with my steady income from royalties and my consequent rise in stature, I have no need of cheap diners, unless I feel like slumming with the rest of you plebes. But I know that for some of you, a diner is the closest you’ll ever get to haute cuisine. I know that there’s some fierce jealousy out there, but also some fierce loyalty to even the worst hellhole BaristaDinerville type place. So I’m willing to tolerate your commentary, but please, keep it clean.

  58. POSTED BY johnny5  |  October 19, 2010 @ 1:37 pm

    Yes, please have a best burger poll. I’ve been trying to determine what the best burger in the area is and I’m torn between Fitzgeralds and Just Jakes.

    I haven’t had the burger at Pal’s, but the few times I’ve been to that place it kind of skeeved me out. Next Door was voted best burger a year or two ago, but I found it a tad too greasy. Everyone tells me Tierney’s has the best burger, but to be honest it was probably the most ordinary burger I’ve ever had.

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