New York’s diners are cheap and welcoming crowd-pleases featuring extended hours and extensive menus. On average, around 13 diners close every year in New York, and, currently, there 419 that remain in the city, but they are fast disappearing with every passing year. Diners are a staple in Manhattan thanks mainly to their cheap menus and their propensity to feature lunch and breakfast staples that are served at every hour.
These unfussy eateries provide an extensive range of dishes that start from pancakes at the Tick Tock Diner to pierogis at Veselka’s. If you’re in the mood for something to eat late at night, you can best rest assured that a diner will be there to serve you with any kind of food. So, the next time you are in Manhattan and are craving some delicious food, check out these 7 classic diners to fill your belly.
1. Tick Tock Diner
Tick Tock Diner is the largest diner in New York City and was opened in 1997. It is located across the street from Penn Station, and the Midtown location can serve 280 customers and is open 24 hours a day. The menu here is 14 pages long and features everything you can desire from classic buttermilk pancakes to super salads and jumbo half-pound hamburgers. The portions here are very large, so bring an appetite with you when you step into Tick Tock Diner in Manhattan.
2. Soho Diner
Soho Diner recently opened in December 2019 and is a modern homage to the classic diner. It looks to the past for inspiration, as Chef Ken Addington wants people to experience the kind of food that he grew up eating after church. In the past, diner food was unhealthy and featured a slapped together meal that you can fill yourself up with when you had company.
The menu here comprises of 75 items, and it is a 24-hour open joint that serves everything from vegan kasha knish, to a tuna melt with cheddar cheese on an English muffin, and blintzes with burrata instead of cottage cheese.
3. Lexington Candy Shop
Lexington Candy Shop has been owned and operated since 1925 by three generations of the same family. The diner claims to offer the best milkshake in the city, an 80-year-old, green Hamilton Beach mixer gives this vintage soda fountain’s ice cream it’s smooth, special frothiness.
The booths here are lined with hat racks, and the old-fashioned menu board above the lunch counter and original signs outside give this throwback location the real ambiance of a 1940s joint.
4. La Bonbonniere
The La Bonbonniere is a French diner, and this West Village cash-only joint has a modest storefront that is emblazoned with vintage Coca-Cola signs. The greasy American classics on offer here feature everything from burgers and ham-and-cheese sandwiches to pancakes, along with an omelette with hot dogs in it.
Most of the dishes offered here tend to cost less than $10, and the diner has been in operation since the early 1930s. That makes it a classic diner that you must visit on your next trip to Manhattan.
5. La Esquina Corner Deli
The stylish SoHo neighborhood houses a hidden gem, which is a short block from the Spring Street subway stop, known as the La Esquina Corner Deli. Three restaurants hide inside the unassuming façade of the La Esquina. On your excursion, you should choose the casual Corner Deli taqueria to enjoy the simple and artfully prepared tacos, tortas, and intriguing Mexican-influenced cuisine.
It is a familiar stomping ground of Karlie Kross and Beyoncé, and no trip here would be complete without devouring the mouth-watering elotes callejeros or the grilled corn that is covered in cotija cheese, mayonnaise, and chili powder.
6. Tom’s Restaurant
Tom’s Restaurant is located near Columbia University and is a beloved pilgrimage spot for fans of Seinfeld, as the exterior was used as a stand-in for the sitcom’s fictional Monk’s Café, which was a familiar haunt for Jerry and company.
Tom’s has been owned and operated by the same Greek-American family since the 1940s, and the cuisine on offer here doesn’t pretend to put on any airs. You will be served with a creamy milkshake, a comforting stack of pancakes, or a dense slice of traditional cheesecake here, which makes the Morningside Heights landmark worth the trek for you.
A long-standing tradition in the lively East Village neighborhood is to amble into Veselka after a long night. The diner is open 24/7 and has been in operation since 1954, and there is no better place around for miles that will serve you with comforting plates of kielbasa, goulash, borscht, and more familiar options such as mac and cheese.
For the best experience at this diner, you should order all the pierogi varieties from cheese to seasonal blueberry and then argue with your companions over which of these Ukrainian dumplings was the best.