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July 21, 2009

Favorite U.S. Diners?

Photo: 12th St David on Flickr
using Creative Commons

by Julia Bainbridge

Just last week, I learned too late that my favorite New York diner, Joe Jr.'s, on the corner of 6th Avenue and 12th Street, had closed in early July. (I was out of the country when it happened; no closure nibble of griddle cakes for me.) Restaurant doors are shutting all over my neighborhood--all over the country--but it seemed that they belonged more to the $15-slice-of-raw-fatty-tuna-belly variety than the homey, bottomless-coffee spots like Joe Jr.'s. On a rainy day like today, it was the perfect spot to sidle up to the counter and order breakfast for dinner--corned beef hash and an egg, say, or a "Belgian Waffle Matinee." user-reviews of the place say things like "the cream of the crop when it comes to NYC diners" and "I was in there one night when the Yankees won and it was free dessert for all!" that speak to the spirit of Joe. Excuse me if I sound a bit melodramatic, but this place was truly great. New York magazine's Joe DeLessio hit the nail on the head as to why:

"In many ways, Joe Jr.'s Restaurant is your prototypical greasy spoon. The brown leather seats of the eight booths don't match the padded purple backs, the brushstroke-patterned wallpaper is peeling, and the floor tiles look as though they've crawled out from the men's room. But there's a camaraderie between customers at the counter and the line cook and the cashier that can make this space feel like a sports bar where small burgers and shoestring fries stand in for screwdrivers and beer."

So, where to go now? Readers, what are your favorite hometown diners? I'm in the market for a new love.

Further reading:
* James Beard honors five classic American restaurants
* Catch of the Day: International noshables


My favorite diner in San Diego is Studio Diner. Best diner food around, though it's attached to a tv/movie studio so it's a bit off the beaten path. Rudford's works in a pinch.

The best diner I ever had the pleasure of eating it, was the Long Beach Cafe. Bottomless cups of coffee and the servings of food are huge and delicious, and yet the prices are low, low, low. I always make it a point to go there whenever we are in the LA area.

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