The 11 Best Classic Diners and Luncheonettes in NYC
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For a time, diner culture was dining culture in New York. And although those halcyon days have long since passed, the city's need for greasy spoons endures even if wistfulness is often an establishment's most potent spice. Convenience and reliability are the hallmarks of truly great diners, and the most resilient among them usually last thanks to a combination of nostalgia and an occasionally excellent stable of American, Eastern European, Greek, or Italian dishes. Where some see grit and grime, others recognize the smell of a well-seasoned flat top. So brush past the seemingly endless sea of kale salads and join Adam and Eve on that raft ('Adam and Eve on a raft' is diner slang for two poached eggs on toast) in search of these, our 11 best greasy spoons.
11. Pearl Diner, 212 Pearl Street, 212-344-6620
We almost lost this 51-year-old restaurant, a classic standalone diner in the heart of the Financial District, to Hurricane Sandy, but luckily it reopened last March. Despite a well-worn interior, the kitchen puts out hearty, cheap entree plates like turkey meatloaf, gravy-soaked turkey, and a sturdy patty melt -- all under $10. Pearl also played host to a pouty, beat-up Robert Pattinson in the 2010 film Remember Me, so no one will judge you when you wipe away a meaningful tear after that final bite of omelet.
10. Cup & Saucer, 89 Canal Street, 212-925-3298
On the eastern edges of Chinatown, this narrow lunch counter serves up breakfast sandwiches and glistening bowls of fat-slicked chicken soup to a neighborhood in flux. When it opened in 1940, it catered to a primarily Jewish clientele, though the menu was given a comprehensive makeover in 1988 under new owners. That means ordinary cheeseburgers, an extraordinary fried fish sandwich, and oddly enough, great yogurt smoothies.
9. Pop's Diner, 4429 Kissena Boulevard, Queens; 718-463-7719
A remnant of Flushing's pre-microcosm past, Pop's has been serving expansive breakfast platters to residents of the busy Queens neighborhood for over 50 years. Sausage links in particular are positively engorged, enough so to be mistaken for British bangers, and egg cookery is top notch. Daily specials cycle through a variety of cuisines, and recently the restaurant has started offering house-made Brazilian hot sauces available on request. The vibrant sauces -- made with bode, malagueta, and cumari peppers -- perk up sandwiches, soups, and specials like stuffed peppers.
8. La Bonbonniere, 28 Eighth Avenue, 212-741-9266
One of the last bastions of affordability that remain in the once-groovy West Village (though breakfasts can still run $10+), La Bonbonniere looks like it's held together by the many post-its, stickers, signed celebrity photos, and various signage that adorns the walls and counter. A window seat here makes for prime people-watching, but we like to snag one of the six blue vinyl stools up front -- all the better for zoning out on fluffy banana pancakes or the perfectly serviceable burger, juicy and without pedigree. Given its location and atmosphere, it would make a perfect post-party pit stop, but sadly it's only open until 7 p.m.