Category Archives: Diner

Zafi’s Luncheonette

Zafi’s Luncheonette is a small, old school counter-service diner on the lower east side.

They do have some regular seating, but the counter is the best way to enjoy an old school diner like this. If indoor dining resumes in NYC, you’ll be able to pop a squat there with spacing between stools.

I had their burger, which was meh at best, but the vanilla milk shake made it all worth while. That thing was absolutely perfect.

I’ll be back here to work my way through some of their more traditional diner menu items, like a gyro, club sandwich, chopped steak, etc. Hopefully they will all be better than the burger.

Stay tuned…

ZAFI’S LUNCHEONETTE
500 Grand St
New York, NY 10002

Shari’s Cafe & Pies

This roadside stop in Red Bluff is like an improved mom and pop style Denny’s. We stopped in mainly to try the pies, but we couldn’t resist trying some of the savory items too.

First, the marble rye patty melt:

This was nice, and I liked the idea of it, but after coming off of the perfect patty melt at Pinecrest Diner in SF, we were underwhelmed.

Philly Style Prime Rib Dip

This was okay. Nothing to go nuts over, and a bit light on the meat. The fries and tots were good though.

Now on to the pies.

The butterscotch pie was probably the most well liked at the table. Really great texture and flavor.

I wanted more from the s’mores crunch pie, but ultimately I would house these, slice after slice, with ease.

The strawberry and rhubarb pie with vanilla ice cream was perfection. I usually don’t love fruit pies but this one was fucking fantastic.

Definitely stop here if you’re driving by. Stick with the pies!

SHARI’S CAFE & PIES
128 Bell Mill Road
Red Bluff, CA 96080

Pinecrest Diner

I didn’t eat much here other than having a bite of this awesome patty melt that was served on delicious rye bread.

This little spot is a classic American no-frills diner.

Worth checking out, but be warned: they do generate a line outside.

PINECREST DINER
401 Geary Street
San Francisco, CA 94102

Hudson & Charles Dinette

Hudson & Charles Dinette serves up some nice burgers with thick cut tallow fries! I tried three. In order:

1) Double “Smash” (9/10) – A classic American double with shredded lettuce and pickle.

2) Catalina Stack (8/10) – A double with catalina sauce, lettuce and pickle.

3) Foxy Burger (8/10) – A thick Korean single, with kimchi and spices.

All burgers come with thick cut tallow fries, and the prices range from $14-$23.

The first was near perfect, with a great crispy char and nice toppings. I only dinged it because it really wasn’t a smash, but this is definitely my preferred style of burger.

The other two were great but a bit aggressive on salt levels. The same goes for the fries, but I didn’t mind so much on those. I’ll definitely be back for the double, and also to try some steaks and pies.

I also tried their Korean fried chicken & waffles entree. The sauce is a mildly spicy gochujang base, heavily sprinkled with scallions. The waffle is more like a muffin or biscuit, with sesame and scallions. There was a mix of breast and thigh meat with a great crunchy breading, three pieces per order.

HUDSON & CHARLES DINETTE
522 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014

Jimmy’s Diner

This is a great addition to your fried food rotation. I walked by Jimmy’s Diner before a filming gig and had to try the joint based on looks alone.

Turned out to be a great choice. This “Lucky Schmidt” sandwich was awesome. Fried chicken fingers, melted swiss, bacon, jalapenos, chipotle mayo and pickles on a potato bun. Great crispy fries too. Go give it a shot!

JIMMY’S DINER
577 Union Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Chat n Chew

This local diner is in the vein of the American classic in feel, but with a bit less traditional menu items.

They have a great selection of cocktails, which are part of their happy hour menu as well.

I was impressed with the food. I tried a lot of stuff so here it goes:

Mac & Cheese

Great flavor on this and a nice blend of cheeses.

Asian Grilled Chicken Salad

Loved the sesame balsamic flavors on this.

Korean Wings

These are not batter fried in the traditional Korean style, but they are still sticky, sweet, spicy and crisp.

Fish & Chips

These are perfect. The best I’ve had, actually. The cod is juicy and flakey, and the batter is perfectly golden brown and crisp. They get hit with a dusting of curry too so the flavors are great.

Burger

This 10oz monster is great. Classic style, cheddar, LTO. Comes with fries for $15.

Crab Cake

This was nice and meaty. Also comes with fries and coleslaw.

Flatiron Steak

Lean and flavorful, this baby can be eaten with just a good sear on the outside. 6/10.

Coca-Cola Cake

Wow. They re-reduce the Coke back into a syrup and that gets mixed into a chocolate sponge and topped with crispy chocolate cookie bits, and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Really nice.

Give this place a shot! I know I will be back.

CHAT N CHEW
10 E 16th St
New York, NY 10003

Denny’s

I ate a burger at Denny’s this past week for the first time in my life. I was actually kind of impressed with it. The burger meat needed a punch in the flavor department, and the sauce on the burger was too plentiful and too sweet (bourbon sauce), but over all it was pretty decent.

The burger patty itself was loosely packed (a good thing), and it had a great crisp all over. It wasn’t overcooked either. The toppings were layered on in just the right amounts, and there was good cheese coverage.

The cheddar bun was a big surprise. I was expecting it to flake apart and crumble under pressure, but it was fresh, pliable yet soft, and held up to scrutiny.

I’d eat here again, though maybe I’d opt for a standard cheeseburger instead of the bacon bourbon burger, so as to avoid the overly sweet sauce.

DENNY’S
60 Nott Terrace
Schenectady, NY 12308

Clover Grill

When I first went to New Orleans in 2009, my wife and I walked by this little dive diner joint a bunch of times and kept contemplating going in to try a burger. It looks like just the kind of place where you might find something fantastic. A hidden gem, so to speak.

They even claim to have the best burger in the world.

The menu is actually funny to read. Check it out.

You can actually see the hubcaps they use.

So we had to get it.

But look at the menu description for the hot dog.

So we had to get it.

Well, despite all the excitement, these two items didn’t quite deliver. They were just okay. But I do love the atmosphere here – a very small old style diner, open 24 hours.

Even complete with slices of pie. Here’s the ice box key lime pie, which was actually great.

CLOVER GRILL
900 Bourbon St
New Orleans, LA 70116

Mt Kisco Diner

A college friend of mine, Harry Georgiou, owns and runs the Mt. Kisco Diner, which has been in his family for years. He’s taken a bold initiative while at the helm, renovating the space to look more like a beautiful restaurant than a typical diner.

It has a fully stocked wrap-around bar, a spacious and beautiful dining room, and comfortable seating. There’s even an outdoor garden area if you want to eat outside.

But that’s not where his initiative stops. Harry and his staff have gotten really creative with their extensive menu. They’ve taken the quality and craftsmanship of the food up several notches from what you might expect at even a really great diner.

Let’s look a few examples right off the bat.

The Gastro Burger is a 9oz proprietary blend of always fresh, never frozen beef (ground daily in-house), and topped with smoked gouda, bacon onion jam, grilled apple, and roasted garlic aioli, all on a nice pretzel bun.

And that’s not the only great burger that they offer. There are 15 different burgers on their menu, including non-beef options and classic beef styles like this Big Top Burger (melted American and Swiss, and caramelized onions and mushrooms on a brioche bun).

These things are gourmet quality at diner prices ($12-$15). They all come with a pickle, and either mixed greens or fries.

Speaking of French fries, the menu has an entire “frites bar” that features six different styles of French fry. I went with the Herbed Truffle Fries. These things were absolutely perfect! Amazing crisp on the outside, nice and soft inside. Not too overpowering with the truffle, and just the right amount of salt and seasoning from the parmesan cheese. Also really fucking beautiful!

I also got a taste of my forte: Steak! I was skeptical at first, as I would typically never order a steak at a diner. But this is not a typical diner, and Harry insisted that I try their skirt steak. I’m glad I listened.

Not only was this plating beautiful and unique, but it had some awesome looking grill marks on it to boot.

As you can see it came with crispy fried union strings and sautéed garlic spinach.

The interior was cooked to a perfect medium rare. It’s been a while since I had a great skirt steak. This baby really hit the spot!

It doesn’t end there. Nope. I had to try one more of Harry’s menu upgrades: the Grown-Up Grilled Cheese. There are a few of these, but I went with the “Alpine” grilled cheese.

As you can see it comes with a cup of creamy roasted tomato soup, but in-between the thick, toasty, country white bread is where the sandwich starts kicking some serious ass.

That’s crispy pancetta, gruyere, caramelized onions, baby arugula, and tomato with white balsamic vinaigrette. Amazing!

I also sampled some or the more normal menu items as well, like bruschetta and chicken quesadillas.

The execution is still on point. No one in the bustling kitchen is cutting any corners. Everything is made very nicely.

I mean they even have a baker on site, making all the desserts in-house, fresh. And they’re all really beautiful.

I tried a delicious slice of lemon meringue pie that I brought home with me (not pictured), but while I was at the diner, I was anxious to drink one of Harry’s mega-shakes.

These are very popular with the kids these days. This Chocolate Chip Cookie Shake is made with vanilla ice cream, a chocolate swirl, and chocolate chips. Then it’s topped with a nice thick whipped cream and a mini ice cream cookie sandwich. I swapped my chocolate chips out for Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal.

I’m glad I was somehow able to save room for that tasty and refreshing shake. It was just the right amount of crazy. I know some places are going way over the top with their shakes these days, and I can’t stand it. This was just right.

I really can’t wait to get back up here to try the breakfast selections. You guys should check out their Instagram account to get your juices flowing.

MT KISCO DINER
252 E Main St
Mt Kisco, NY 10549

9Ten

For years I joked about this place going out of business, because as soon as it opened, the City of New York decided to rip up the sidewalk in front of their establishment while simultaneously renovating the stairway down into the subway on the northwest corner of 57th & 7th.

The whole spot was a shit show, and unless you l knew to maneuver the construction walkway to get to a particular establishment (bar, cleaners, bodega), then you’d be walking by the joint without ever looking. So I used to say “9Ten is going to close on 11Twelve.”

I imagine all businesses along that stretch suffered, but 9Ten must have felt it the hardest since they just opened as the construction began.

It was a diner before, and it’s a diner now. Three years later, and with countless millions of city contract dollars completely milked dry, the sidewalk and subway stairs are open. Business is booming.

It’s very nice inside and the menu prices are extremely fair considering the location.

My wife and I popped in for a quickie before flying out to the Azores for vacation. Here’s what we had:

The Reuben sandwich with French fries.

Not sure why it’s not listed on the menu without the fries, like everything else is, but at $14 this is a great deal. It’s more like a pumped up grilled cheese than a Reuben but I really loved it.

Next up was the roast beef sandwich.

This has melted cheese and horseradish sauce but it is otherwise a cold cut style sandwich. Very nice. Slightly pricey for $11.50 but my wife and I were full between this and the Rueben that came with enough fries to share.

I’ll definitely be back – if not for another Rueben, then to try out the burgers.

9Ten
910 7th Avenue
New York, NY 10019