Classic Diners

No matter where I travel, there's only one question constantly on my mind: Where's the closest diner! I don't mean "restaurant" or anything like that. I want a good diner. One that serves breakfast 24 hours a day. One that has a counter and stools and some booths, and a lot of stainless steel. One that preserves the classic styling of the Art Deco diners of my youth. But the most important thing is the menu. Good food, reasonably priced, served by waitresses with those little dupe books and a pencil on their ear. Waitresses that can hold all the food for a table of four on one arm and still whistle. Listed below are a few of my favorites, culled from various places around the country and from the New York area. I haven't been everywhere, so I know I've missed a lot of good diners, and there are probably thousands of very good ones, but these are some that I've selected as superior. If you're in any of these places, check them out. My main criteria for selection was classic styling, since the food is always good and pretty uniform from one to the other. A few stand out for superior food as well as classic styling. 1. Sunny Day Diner, Lincoln, New Hampshire

Built by the Master Company in 1958, this diner combines the best of classic styling with great food. If you travel to New Hampshire, be sure to stop here. The diner closes in the early afternoon, and we've found it closed a few times, but it's worth coming back and trying again. All baked goods are made on the premises and are outstanding. Right up the road, you'll find Ed O'Brien's Franconia Notch Motel, a good place to stay.

2. Mineola Diner, Mineola, New York

Built just after World War II by Mountain View Diners, this one is right in my back yard. Anyone who lives on Long Island and hasn't eaten here should certainly make the trip. The Mountain View trademark was a unique corner detail know as the "cowcatcher" which can be seen in this photograph by Christopher Bliss

3. Jackson Hole Diner, 69-35 Astoria Blvd between 35th and 36th Streets Astoria, Queens

This diner is not in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, but in the heart of Queens, in New York City. In fact, there are two locations, another is located at 3501 Bell Blvd, Flushing, NY. This is a classic 50's diner, right out of "Happy Days". You almost expect "the Fonz" to appear in the parking lot.

4. Mickey's Dining Car, St. Paul, Minnesota

Built around 1937, this diner is on the National Register of Historic Places, and is an authentic Art Deco classic. It was built by the Jerry O'Mahoney company in New Jersey.

5. Empire Diner, 10th Ave and 22nd Street, New York City

Built in 1946 by the Fodero Dining Car Company, Bloomfield, NJ, the mighty Empire Diner stands in the middle of Manhattan. No one should miss this experience. The classic Art Deco styling alone makes for a dramatic experience. I like to go there after the bars close, when the most interesting characters appear. During lunch and dinner, there's often a piano player and sometimes late at night when some aspiring musician is moved to song.

6. Roscoe Diner, Route 17 (Quickway), Roscoe, N.Y.

Although the Roscoe Diner has been rebuilt several times from it's original style, and really can't claim classic status, it can claim legendary status. Everywhere I go in the world, people know about the Roscoe Diner. It's an obligatory stop for New York fishermen testing their skills in the legendary Beaverkill River. I know for a fact that Jimmy Carter has stopped here more than once on fishing trips.

7. Martindale Chief Diner, Taconic State Parkway and Rte. 23 in Craryville, NY. From "Roadside Magazine": " What makes the Martindale Chief such a pleasure is that familiar good feeling I have as soon as I walk in the door and take a look around at the cleanliness, the efficiency, and the downright comfortable, unhurried atmosphere. It has all the elements that make up a successful diner -- the promise of delicious food prepared any way I like, the many offers of a coffee refill with a smile, and the friendly chatter that says not "I'm just doing my job" but "this is your diner." 8. A Great Diner that is no longer with us.... The Parkway Diner used to be on Jericho Turnpike in Mineola. It's gone. One of the last out front grills, this diner was made famous by Billy Joel in "Scenes From an Italian Restaurant": "Brenda and Eddie were the Popular steadies And the king and the queen Of the prom Riding around with the car top Down and the radio on Nobody looked any finer Or was more of a hit at the Parkway Diner We never knew we could want more Than that out of life"

Link to more diners