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Best Diners In New York City

Updated on April 18, 2012

Nothing Is Finer Than A New York City Diner

I love to explore New York City's restaurants, but while there are plenty of upscale and ethnic places to eat at, sometimes I crave diner food.

The great thing about diners is that you can pretty much order ANYTHING. There's just something very enjoyable about being handed a menu that's as huge as a phone book and knowing that you can have anything from meatloaf to omelets to pasta. Of course, the portions are always huge and delicious and satisfying. In other words, diner food is the ultimate comfort food. 

Diners have always been a part of New York City history, but because restaurants are so competitive, anyway, in Manhattan, the food in diners is especially good. In fact, I'd argue that many diners in New York are as upscale as some of the higher-priced eateries!

So the next time you're in New York and you're hungry, consider stopping into one of the many diners. Here is my list of Manhattan's best.

Yes, it's a real place in Manhattan: Tom's Restaurant from Seinfeld

Top New York Diners

1. Tick Tock Diner (Corner of 34th Street and 8th Ave): This diner is conveniently located right across from Penn Station, but I'd actually never been in it until last year when I met a friend for dinner there. But it was love at first bite! Most diner menus are extensive, but this one takes things to a whole other level. I mean, there are five variations of Eggs Benedict! I personally love their chicken parmesan, which features a chicken cutlet that's as big as the plate. Their omelets are delicious, too -- very fluffy and fresh and they have every filling you can imagine. They also have amazing milkshakes. I usually prefer a scoop of ice cream to a shake, but theirs are the classic old-fashioned kind. The chocolate and banana shake -- YUM!

2. Euro Diner (Corner of 36h Street and 3rd Ave): I take friends here often because it's not too far from my office, but the food is so good, I'd stop by even if the location wasn't so convenient. While many diners serve Greek specialties, the Euro Diner's Greek plates are especially good. Their salad comes with huge chunks of feta cheese and the meat is always perfectly cooked. I also love the look of the place. It's kind of "retro modern," which funky, colorful booths and a warm, open dining area. On nice days, they open the large, front windows so that you feel as if you're at an outdoor cafe.

3. Tom's Restaurant (Corner of Broadway and 112th Street): Chances are, you'd recognize this iconic diner even if you haven't been there because the restaurant's facade was constantly featured in Seinfeld as the gang's hangout. Suzanne Vega also wrote her song, "Tom's Diner" about the place. The joint itself is a little "dive-y," but they make decent burgers. And what better way to enjoy a sandwich than to have it in a diner with so much history?

4. Ellen's Stardust Diner (Corner Of Broadway and 51st Street): This diner, located in the heart of the theater district, is admittedly touristy, but a lot of fun. The place has a very faux retro look and is meant to make you feel as if you're back in the 1950s. While the food is decent, the main draw is the singing waitstaff, who will suddenly serenade you as you enjoy your meal. So if you can't actually afford tickets to a Broadway show, eating at Ellen's may just be the next best thing.

5. City Diner (Corner of Broadway and 90th Street): This cozy restaurant has inexpensive, plentiful meals. They especially have great breakfasts, including the usual favorites, such as waffles, eggs and French toast. They also have yummy fries!

6. Pop Diner (80-26 Queens Blvd., Elmhurst, Queens): Yes, you have to venture out of Mahattan to this particular New York City diner, but trust me, the commute is so worth it. While many diners serve great Greek specialties, the Pop Diner also serves homemade Latin and Asian dishes. You can order classic diner favorites, such as meatloaf or a steak, but if you're in the mood for something different, this is the place to try a roast pork arepa, paella or a mofongo (mashed plantains stuffed with a filling such as chicken). Of course, the food is also delicious! My father-in-law is a diner lover so I took him and my dad here for Father's Day last year and they LOVED it. They didn't care that I didn't take them to some five-star place; they were in diner heaven. If that's not a recommendation for the Pop, than I don't know what is!

7. Waverly Restaurant (385 6th Avenue at Waverly Place): This diner, which was recommended in New York magazine, has a dark, cozy interior and homey feel. The food is pretty damn good, too -- and a great value. For about $25, you can get an entire meal, including meat and potatoes, soup, salad and bread. The service is also great as the waitstaff makes you feel right at home.

8. 3 Star Restaurant (1611 Avenue U, Brooklyn): My 93-year-old grandmother would kill me if I didn't include her beloved 3 Star, so here it is. The diner, which is about a block from the Q train (get off at the Avenue U stop), is warm and friendly and the service is fantastic. My grandmother has been coming here for about 35 years now, so she knows everyone there and they treat her like a queen. We've come on holidays when it gets very crowded, such as Mother's Day, but they always seat her without a wait. And even when it's busy, the wait staff always stops to say hello to her and see how she's doing. We even had her 90th birthday celebration here and our family members who'd never been before were raving about the food. The portions are definitely huge and you get a lot for the value. While most diners put out bread, the 3 Star also puts a platter of pickes and carrots, as well as a chickpea or cucumber/feta salad. Meantime, almost all of the meals come with soup or salad, dessert and coffee. Nice bargain! While my grandmother believes that the 3 Star has the best food in the world, I can't agree. It's good, but not the best, in my opinion. Still, I'm happy to recommend a place where you can get a lovely meal and that's treated my family so, so well.

Entertainment At Ellen's Stardust Diner In New York City


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    • Brie Hoffman profile image

      Brie Hoffman 3 years ago from Manhattan

      The City Metro Diner is very good, it's on my street.

    • Brie Hoffman profile image

      Brie Hoffman 3 years ago from Manhattan

      Yep Tick Tock is the best!

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      We do like out diners here in NYC! I've spent many a good morning enjoying breakfast right around the corner from me in Brooklyn. Or going to a diner with a friend and family. We could all order from such a large menu - can't beat that and breakfast was always sooooo cheap. Of course watching Seinfield, I think that drove many folks to just want to try a diner.

      One local diner closed after about 30 years - shocked everyone. But the new owners want to hop on to the current trend here in Brooklyn - something with a trendy name and theme and then charge too much. It won't last.

      Thanks for this diner hub! Such fun!