A Look Back at 300 NJ Diners

300 New Jersey Diners!

Holy smokes, when we moved to New Jersey in 2013, I had no idea a diner quest was in my future. I had been to a few diners like a normal person, but I certainly didn’t go out of my way to go to diners…but now here I am 300 New Jersey Diners later. I’ve been to diners about 100 diners in other states as well.

New Jersey Diners

Sadly, I don’t think I’ll make it to 350 or 400 or 500. Rumor is there are just over 500 New Jersey Diners, but no one knows. (I’m moving).

So with that, it’s time for the 300 New Jersey Diner Recap!

What was the best New Jersey Diner? The worst New Jersey Diner? Has my favorite changed? What was the weirdest meal I’ve gotten at a New Jersey diner? The weirdest experience?

Keep in mind; I’ve never been paid to go to a diner. I’ve never had a “free diner meal” for publicity. It’s just me, enjoying spending time with family and friends at a new diner.

There are approximately 600 diners in NJ, but that changes from month to month.  I’ve been to at least ten that have now closed! I also worry about how many diners will close during the pandemic.

You can see reviews here or use the link at the top of the blog.

How did it start? Why do I go to diners?

I get this question a lot.

My husband and I moved to New Jersey in October 2013.  Before moving to NJ, we didn’t know much about the state (we moved from Texas and I’m originally from Virginia).  I had no ties to NJ. Like most people, I assumed it was just a densely populated state with a lot of traffic.

That’s just one misconception of the state. NJ is the most densely populated, but it also has hundreds of small towns, each having its own personality.  New Jersey is known as “the garden state,” and there are miles of fields and gardens.

stairway to heaven nj

New Jersey is known as the “diner capital of the world.” We started going to different New Jersey diners to see different parts of the state.  A diner along the Long Beach Island shore is going to be far different than one on the outskirts of New York City.  It’s been a fun way to explore the state and see all different areas.

New Jersey Diners fall into a few different categories:

  • The Traditional Diner: This New Jersey Diner has been around for years. Sometimes in an old dining car but you can tell the classic diner has been around and in a family for generations. When you picture an American Diner, this is what you picture. Some of these New Jersey Diners include Angelo’s Glassboro DinerSummit DinerBroad Street Diner (Keyport, NJ) and The Dumont Crystal Diner.
  • The Restaurant Diner: These New Jersey Diners might as well be a regular restaurant, but they slapped diner on the back because…hey New Jersey! Some examples include Newport Eats Diner or Fairmount Eats.
  • The Upscale Diner: Why are these New Jersey Diners so expensive? They are more expensive and fancier than regular restaurants. They usually serve alcohol too. Some of these include Skylark Diner or Vincentown Diner.

Do I only eat at New Jersey diners?  No, of course not.  Have there been many weeks where I haven’t made it to a new diner?  Of course!  I haven’t been to a new diner since March 14th but it’s been a fun hobby to do.

Plus, I’ve seen so much of New Jersey!  I’ve traveled the majority of roads in NJ.

I started reviewing diners in March of 2014.  Keep in mind, this just a personal experience.  Experience at any restaurant is different depending on the day, time, or who you go with.

I’m not in diners club international, food critic, or anyone other than a person who likes diners.  I don’t eat the same thing at every diner. I used to think that was a good way to review, but then got tired of that very quickly.

Here are a Few Highlights and Lowlights:

First, some of my favorite meals:

Favorite Diner Drink: Coffee with whipped cream, although some diners do have their liquor license.
Favorite Breakfast: Omelets or steak and eggs
Favorite Omelet: Nova lox (smoked salmon)
Favorite Appetizer: Appetizers with a Greek flair with hummus, pita bread, grape leaves. Many Diners have a Greek flair to begin with.
Favorite Lunch: Gyro
Favorite Salad: Greek salad
Favorite Dinner: Pork chops, salmon, steak, (whatever I’m in the mood for)
The most unusual thing I’ve ordered at a diner: Octopus
Favorite Dessert: Cake followed by bread pudding.

A Few Diners in the Media:

Blairstown Diner Friday the 13th was filmed at the Blairstown Diner. Blairstown is precisely what you expect in a small town.

Blairstown Diner

All-Time Favorite Diner: Mastoris

Mastoris isn’t a typical diner. It was one of the first 50 diners I went too and still one I frequent. It’s more of a modern and upscale restaurant, but I like their food and cake.   I think the food is excellent at Mastoris. However, I think the service is lackluster.  Is it the best overall? No, but I like their cake.

Mastoris Cake

But which cake to get?

Least Favorite Diner: The Ridge DinerLakehurst Diner, Oceanos Restaurant, Garden State Diner

Each diner was a letdown.

Diner review number 200, the Ridge Diner, had burnt crusty steak, poor service, and sitting on top of people.   Oceano’s Restaurant is in the grey area of “is it a diner,” but the inside of the building was dirty and the food was meh.

The Lakehurst Diner outside of the Navy Base, Lakehurst, looked like a meal served right out of a deployment. Luckily, my company was good. 
Lakehurst Diner lakehurst nj

Diner went to the most times: Vincentown.

I used to live closer to Vincentown.  Sadly, the quality of the food and service has gone downhill, so I haven’t been much at all.  I went from going three times a month to maybe once a year.  Once the wait staff essentially assumed I was too young to afford my meal.  The woman said to me, “do you realize how much this will cost?” Yes, that is a true story, and yes, the meal was less than $20.

Another time, we overheard another waitress talking about her stripping job.  Personally, I don’t care, but when you hear a waitress talking about that to co-workers, it’s a unique experience.

Here are a Few Diners that Stand Out:

I guess many of my favorite diners are due to their cake.

Northwest:

Stateline Diner: Great cake and service

Jefferson Diner: Great food and service

Summit Diner: One of the oldest diners in the state

Northeast (NYC area):

Chit Chat Diner: Fun and unique diner

The Dumont Crystal Diner One of the oldest diners in the state. The entire operation is fun by the owner.

The Dumont Crystal Diner
Dumont Crystal Diner

Shore:

Mustache Bills: You can’t argue with mustache shaped pancakes

Central:

Tropicana: Most unique and Caribbean themed!

Mastoris: Best food

South:

Larrys 2: Great food, fast service

Monarch Diner: The Monarch Diner replaces PB Diner and it was a great replacement. The food is fresh and they have a lot of fun options like cauliflower bread.

monarch diner glassboro

Healthiest Diner: Silver Diner The Silver Diner is a small chain, and there are a few across the east coast.  How many diners have Quinoa pancakes or a roasted vegetable salad?

Best Coffee: Any diner that serves the local Lacas coffee and has homemade whipped cream.

Worst Coffee: Princetonian: they charge for refills!

Biggest portions: Tropicana: For $24, I received all of this food.  I had run 15 miles and still made a full meal out of leftovers.

Best Pancakes: Four Seasons in Toms River.  Any pancakes with red velvet in them are always good to me!

Four Seasons Diner Toms River

Best Egg Breakfast:

Amys Omelet House (Over 200 omelet choices!)

Pauls Family Diner had great steak and eggs

Pauls family diner mountain lakes nj

The Dumont Crystal Diner: The “amazing omelet” at the Dumont Crystal Diner was amazing.

The Dumont Crystal Diner
The Dumont Crystal Diner “Amazing Omelet”

Best Dinner Option:

The Pork Chops with NJ fresh Blueberries from Larrys 2

 

Best Atmosphere:

The Neon Signs at the Arlington Diner can’t be missed!

Arlington Diner (North Arlington)

Cheapest Diner: Angelos (around $5 for a meal)

Plus all of the take out diners like (these take out diners are designed for speed and they almost resemble a fast food restaurant):

White Rose Diner (Linden) taylor ham

Most Expensive: Alexis Diner or Vincentown (typically $20+ for a meal)

So cheers to 300 diners. I don’t know if I’ll be able to go to any more New Jersey Diners before we move, but hopefully, I’ll be able to hit up a few more.

Questions for you:

Have you been to a diner before?

Where is your favorite place to eat?