Urban Griddle (Newark)

Recently I went to the Urban Griddle in Newark. Spoiler, I enjoyed it so much the first time, I’ve been back again.  My good friend Devon and I met up at the Urban Griddle since it’s right off the highway and a good meeting spot between North and South Jersey.

When we arrived around 11 am, it wasn’t too busy.  There were several tables and booths available.  We were sat quickly!

Atmosphere: B
The outside is a typical restaurant building.  It’s not the old, metallic retro style but has a more modern vibe (similar to the Harley Dawn in Hammonton).  I enjoyed how open and well lit the restaurant is too.  It reminds me more of a bistro vibe than diner vibe.

The restaurant sign could use an update, as it looks like it’s been through a few storms, and faded.

Service: A
Between the two of us, we had a lot of questions about menu options and choices, and our waitress was extremely friendly and helpful.  She gave us plenty of menu advice and always refilled our beverages.

Coffee: A
The Urban Griddle has a full coffee bar as well as a standard bar with the ability to make alcoholic drinks as well.

Urban Griddle Newark

Each cup of coffee was brewed perfectly.  It was hot and fresh.  Definitely some of the better coffee I’ve had recently.

Food: A
The Urban Griddle serves local and fresh ingredients.  The menu has several unique diner options including “matcha pancakes” and avocado toast.  It reminds me more of a bistro style menu.  There is a large selection of vegetarian and vegan options too.

As many people know, I am a big grits fan.  Since living in Alabama, I’ve been trying to find good northern grits.  The second time I went, I ordered breakfast which came with a side of grits.  So far in New Jersey, they have been the best I’ve had.  The rest of the breakfast: toast, eggs, and bacon was equally as good.  One of my favorite diner breakfasts to date (but that was mostly because of the grits!).

Urban Griddle Newark

Cost: $
I was actually quite surprised with how inexpensive the food is.  For my entire breakfast, the cost was $10.

Overall thoughts/Summary:
I enjoyed the Urban Griddle, and it’s definitely one of my more favorite diners in the area.  I’ve already been back, so it clearly is one of my favorites!

Atmosphere: A
Service: A
Coffee: A
Food: A
Cost: $8-12
Overall: A

Nearby diners: 
Tops Diner
Tropicana Diner
Mark Twain Diner

Questions for you:
Do you like grits?
What is your favorite breakfast? (no dad, coffee doesn’t count)

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Marvis Diner (Wildwood)

Recently I celebrated my 150th New Jersey diner.  After asking several people where I should go, it all went out of the window because both my husband and I had off of work on the same day.  We had always wanted to go to the Wildwoods, so we settled upon the Marvis Diner.  

Atmosphere: B

The Atmosphere of the Marvis Diner is typical of any beachy New Jersey shore town.  The outside is a rustic, cute, beach looking building while the inside is a large open run with several booths as well as a full-length bar.  There is an outdoor patio as well.  

Marvis Diner Wildwoods

Service: A

Right off the bat, I can say the service at Marvis Diner was one of the best I’ve had.  The waitress was outgoing, funny and friendly.  She brought out plenty of drink refills, and our food came out extremely quickly.  In all of the diners I’ve been too, this was in the top 3 best services. 

Coffee: B

There is nothing unique or special about the coffee, but it is good.  The waitress refilled my coffee often.  At first, she brought a small coffee mug but ended up bringing out a large to go cup instead.  How can I argue with that? 

Marvis Diner Wildwoods

Food: A

The Marvis Diner has plenty of options.  They have breakfasts as well as a good amount of lunch and dinner options too.  The menu is about 5 pages long which makes it far less overwhelming.  

I decided to go big or go home and ordered the “Jackpot” which came with 2 eggs, 2 sausages, bacon, French toast, pancakes and tater tots.  The waitress highly recommended the tots because how many diners have that? 

Marvis Diner Wildwoods

Yes, all of that food and it was massive.  I had run about 5 miles in the morning and finished most of everything (I took about half of the tots home).  Everything was cooked well, and I will say the French toast was one of the best I’ve had in any diner.  

Marvis Diner Wildwoods

Price: $

For my Jackpot special and coffee, the price was $18.  Is that one of the biggest breakfast meals I’ve ever had in my life? Yes.  Was it good and worth the price? Also yes. 

Summary/Overall Thoughts: 

I liked the Marvis Diner, and I would definitely come back.  It’s one of my top five diners in south jersey and definitely in the top in the state.  I highly recommend it.  

Atmosphere: B

Service: A 

Coffee: B

Food: A

Cost: $8-18

Overall: A

Closeby Diners I’ve Been: Georges Place

Questions for you: 

Do you like French toast? 

What is the biggest breakfast you’ve had? 

Malaga Diner

Earlier in the month, my dad was driving through and stopped for the evening at my house.  On his way South, we decided to go to the Malaga Diner.  There were a few Southern Diner choices, but we ultimately decided upon Malaga solely because my brother, Matt, is stationed in Spain near Malaga.  It seemed like a reasonable way to pick out a diner.

I had driven by the Malaga Diner a couple of years ago when I went to the Pegasus restaurant.

Atmosphere: A
When driving by the Malaga Diner, you can’t help but notice the diner.  There is a huge diner sign on route 40, and the outside has “Malaga Diner” on a big red light up sign.  There is enormous tinted windows and cobblestone on the sides.  You can’t miss it (in a good way)!

malaga diner

The inside is a stereotypical diner with plenty of booths, a full-length bar, and several tables.

Service: B
The waitress was friendly, refilled our beverages often and came over and chatted.  However, the food was very slow to come out.  We waited about half an hour which for the amount of people in the diner, I was surprised!

Coffee: B
I’ve had a lot of boring but good diner coffee lately.  There wasn’t anything bad about the coffee, and it was refilled enough, but like I mentioned nothing unique or unusual. 

Food: B
The Malaga Diner has everything a stereotypical diner has, no more and no less.  There are about 2 pages of breakfasts, 2 pages of lunch/dinner and a page of specials.

I ordered the Hungry Woman Special with French toast, scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns, and sausage links.  For those not familiar with diners, I would say about 75% of New Jersey Diners have a “Hungry Women Special”.  It’s a staple breakfast dish.

Thank goodness I took a photo because to struggled to remember everything that fit on the plate. malaga diner

The French toast was one of the best French toasts I’ve had.  They used big, thick, bread which is a definite must.  The rest of the meal was filling with nothing unusual, and I had no complaints, but the highlight was the French toast.  I liked everything but next time I might just end up ordering 10 pieces of their french toast.

Cost: $$
For the coffee and hungry woman, the cost was $12.  They did charge $1.50 for whipped cream in the coffee…some diners do, and some don’t.  For the amount of food, it was worth it.

Overall Thoughts/Summary:
The Malaga Diner was a good stop, and I’m glad we finally made it down there.  I would definitely go again.

Atmosphere: A
Coffee: B
Service: B
Food: B
Cost: $6-15
Overall: B
Closeby Diners I’ve been: Pegasus, Elmer, Point 40

Questions for you:
Do you like French toast? 
What is your favorite way to eat eggs?
I like scrambled or over easy

Papermoon Diner (Baltimore, Md)

Recently I finally made it to the Papermoon Diner in Baltimore, Md.  Personal friend Sarah (and once blogger), recommended it to me and I’ve been dying to go since.

I knew they had good red velvet cake, so I was already excited about that.

Atmosphere: A
The Papermoon Diner is one of the quirkiest and unique diners I’ve ever been too.  It looks like something right out of a movie.

Papermoon diner baltimore

The outside is filled with unique items ranging from a bike in a tree or garden gnomes.  It’s not a traditional big metal diner, but it definitely stands out.

The inside looks like it’s right out of the movies.  There are random mannequins, army men and dozens of odds and ends dangling from the wall.

The atmosphere is definitely one of the best and most unique of any diner I’ve been too.

Service: A
The waitress was extremely friendly and refilled everything as needed.  I couldn’t ask for a better experience.  Our food was brought out quickly and overall it was a positive experience.

Coffee: A
The coffee was brewed fresh, and the whipped cream was homemade.  It’s hard to top that except they used personalized coffee mugs.  It can’t get any better than that.  It was definitely one of the best diner coffees I have had in a while. Papermoon diner baltimore

Food: A
I was hungry when I arrived, so I ordered the hummus appetizer.  I’ve been enjoying hummus lately. It came with the largest portion of hummus I’ve received as well.  Also included were onions, tomatoes, cucumbers and a unique olive dip.  Everything tasted great and I would order it again. Papermoon diner baltimore

For my entree, I decided to order off the specials.  I had never heard of a lamb hash at a diner, so I decided to order that.  The lamb hash came with two eggs over easy, lamb and hash browns.  The meal itself was delicious! I could have used some bread, but other then that I have no complaints.Papermoon diner baltimore

Dessert: A
I knew the dessert at Papermoon was delicious so I planned to order red velvet cake.  I am so glad I did!  When I say this was in the top 5 cakes I’ve had, it was.  There was a lot of frosting, the cake itself was dense, and there was plenty of ice cream.  It’s definitely one of the best diner cakes I’ve had except Mastoris and the Jefferson Diner.Papermoon diner baltimore

Cost: $$
For my appetizer, entree, coffee, and dessert that cost was $33.  Definitely more pricey but the quality of food was high and I have no complaints.

Overall/Would I come back?
The Papermoon Diner is one of my favorite diners to date.  I don’t have any complaints, and every part was perfect.  It’s such a quirky and unique diner that I would recommend it to anyone!  In fact, I’m looking at races in the Baltimore area just so I can go back.

Summary:
Atmosphere: A
Coffee: A
Service: A
Food: A
Dessert: A
Cost: $15-25
Overall: A

Questions for you:
What’s the best cake you’ve had?
Do you like lamb?

Scenic 90s Cafe (Pensacola)

While in Pensacola, my husband I decided to stop at the Scenic 90s cafe.  When we moved from Texas to New Jersey, we actually had lunch there previously.  Even though it was about 3 years ago, I remembered I really enjoyed it.

Atmosphere: A
The atmosphere of the Scenic 90s Cafe is everything you can picture in a diner.  The outside is retro and shiny.  It looks like an old rail car.  The inside has plenty of booths, tables, and a full-length bar.  You couldn’t ask for a more picture-perfect diner.

Coffee: A
The coffee was one of the best I’ve had in awhile.  The waitress refilled it often, it was piping hot, and it tasted great.  I couldn’t have asked for better coffee. Scenic 90s cafe pensacola

Service: A
The waitress was very pleasant.  She refilled our drinks quickly, and our food came out quickly too.  I was shocked because even though it was a Saturday at lunch time, our food came out within 15 minutes.  You can’t beat that!

Food: B
The Scenic 90s Cafe has a smaller diner menu.  They have several omelet and breakfast options and a few different diner staples such as sandwiches and fried fish. Their menu is one single trifold versus 10-20 pages like many diners in NJ.

I chose the Cajun Omelet with a biscuit and fresh fruit.  The omelet had Crawfish tails, Andouille, onions, peppers, and Cajun seasoning.  It was spicy, and I enjoyed it.  The fruit cup was fresh, and it was obvious it didn’t come out of a can.

Scenic 90s cafe pensacola

Cost: $
For my coffee and omelet, it was $13.  Most items on the menu are inexpensive and they have several specials as well.

Overall thoughts/Would I come back?
I enjoyed the Scenic 90s Cafe, and I would definitely go back.  The diner itself is very stereotypical and has everything you need in a diner.  The Scenic 90s Cafe is a great stop in Pensacola, and I highly recommend it.

Atmosphere: A
Service: A
Coffee: A
Food: B
Cost: $8-12
Overall: A

Other Diners I’ve Ordered Eggs/Omelets at: Amys Omelet HouseAngelos Diner (Pitman, NJ)

Questions for you:
Do you like Cajun food?
Have you ever been to Florida?

Meal Favorites

When I wrote my last post about food, I had no idea how the post would be perceived.  Since I no longer write much about food, you never know how readers might respond.  Everyone needs to eat, and food and nutrition are an important part of running and working out.

I thought it would be interesting to showcase some of my favorite foods and meal staples.  I’m not great at cooking, and I don’t shop at a lot of specialty stores.  Most of my shopping comes from the three closest grocery stores to me: Wegmans, Shoprite and Whole Foods. 

I shop at Wegmans and Shoprite for most of my groceries and Whole Foods for fish, steak, and some produce.

When someone asks your favorite food, I feel like it’s a weird question.  You can’t compare items like steak to donuts, both are delicious but it’s hard to compare.  I have a lot of favorite foods.  I like sugary treats, but I also like a big juicy steak too.

Favorite breakfast item:

Breakfast is easy for me.  I have a waffle with peanut butter.  I’ve been doing this for years, and it’s always worked for me.  I eat a waffle every morning, whether I’m running, racing or just resting.  I’ve never had a stomach issue.  I use Bisquick and just add water.  I also use flour, egg, baking powder and milk if I don’t have the mix.  I can usually run between 1-2 hours after eating.  I don’t like to run on an empty stomach.  I generally eat within 20 minutes of waking up, relax and then go for a run 1-2 hours later.

waffle1
Artsy waffle for you

Lunch:

Lunch depends on if I’m at home or if I’m at work.  Most people know I work at a local running store.  It’s hard to predict a day in a retail store and no two days are the same.  I can’t plan to bring a big meal because I might not have time to eat it.  I could have plenty of time, or I could be snacking the entire day.  I’ve become used to it, though, and I honestly don’t mind either way.

I usually pack easy to eat sandwiches or bars so that if we get slammed, I can still eat.  It’s not like I can tell a customer “Go away I’ve got to get my lunch on”.  I’ve been looking for an easy “bar” recipe if anyone has any.

Some quick and easy staples.  Sometimes quick and easy means I order down the road from work:

Power bars are one of my favorites, especially the cookie dough
Power bars are one of my favorites, especially the cookie dough
French toast bagels from Panera make their appearence often.
French toast bagels from Panera make their appearance often
Quick and easy salads
Quick and easy salads
I crave soup in the winter. My two favorites are split pea and lentil
I crave soup in the winter. My two favorite kinds of soup are split pea and lentil
I recently got a take out pita bead sandwich which has become one of my favorite lunch buys.
I recently got a takeout pita bread sandwich which has become one of my favorite lunch buys. It has pesto, chicken, and melted feta

Dinner:

I’ve said this more times than I can remember, but I am a very simple dinner person.  I like meat, potato and vegetable.  I rotate through all of them, but both my husband and I aren’t fancy cooks.  Our meals tend to take between 15-30 minutes to cook.  Luckily my husband is the same way.  He cooks the meat, and I prepare everything else.

Some of our favorite meats:

  • steak
  • salmon or any pink fish (we aren’t fans of too many white fish)
  • chicken
  • Squid (yes, one of my favorite, if not favorite meats is squid)
Steak and kale
Steak and kale (I love T-bone steaks because they are so fatty, anyone else?)
Another T-bone
Another T-bone
Sea Bass and Squid from the other night
Sea Bass and Squid from the other night

The usual suspects

We frequently cook some vegetable or have a salad.  My current favorite vegetables are eggplant and squash, but it varies.

Vegetables of (current) choice:

  • eggplant and squash
  • asparagus
Eggplant sauteed in oil and garlic is the easiest and most deliscious vegeatble
Eggplant sauteed in oil and garlic is the easiest and most delicious vegetable

Then, of course, there is the grain/potato portion of dinner.  Current favorites include

  • Pasta or rice (because it takes 5 minutes!)  I went through a phase with pasta where I didn’t eat it much and always chose other items over it.  Now I can’t get enough.
  • Sweet or normal potatoes
  • Bread from Panera. If you recall, my husband won a year supply of Panera bread from a race last year, and we use it to buy a loaf.  Panera bread goes well with everything in my life.
Pasta with spinach and cheese
Pasta with spinach and cheese

As you can see, my husband and I are simple eaters.  We don’t spend hours creating perfect food dishes.  Spending a few hours is some people’s hobby, but we know we like fast, simple and easy food!  We save fancy eating for going out.

Questions for you:

Do you prefer cooking simple food or fancier recipes?

Does anyone have any “bar” recipes? 

James Browns Place

James Browns Place

A Rochester Diner

Rochester, NY

While visiting Rochester last weekend, Laura, Heather and I wanted to try a new diner.  We were going to go run a 5k, but since the weather wasn’t that great, we decided to go to a diner instead.  I don’t have any regrets.  After googling possible options, we settled on James Browns Place, a famous diner in Rochester.

Atmosphere: A

James Browns Place is a cute, local diner.  The inside is exactly what you picture as a hole in the wall restaurant gem.  It is located on the main strip of Rochester.

There are about 20 tables inside, and the grill is open.  I haven’t been to a restaurant in a while that I can physically see the grill. It’s cool to see where all the “diner magic” happens.  The diner is located in Rochester, NY which is obviously a different atmosphere than New Jersey Diners.  Not different in a bad way but just different.

We even had the pleasure to talk to the owner of the restaurant, Mr. Brown.  It was truly amazing to have the owner of the diner come out and talk to us, and he was hilarious.  Out of all the diners I’ve been too, this was the first that I had the experience of the owner talking to us. Chatting with Mr. Brown alone caused the rating of the atmosphere to be an A.  I wish we had gotten a photo!

Coffee: A

The coffee was refilled, and the waitress even brought a massive amount of whipped cream.  I don’t have any complaints. She also brought all four of plenty of refills.

James Browns Coffee

Which one is LOLZ coffee?
Which one is LOLZ coffee?

Food: A

The amount of eggs, pancakes, and food James Browns Place has is overwhelming.  It took the four of us 15 minutes to decide on food. This never happens!  Their breakfast menu has everything and anything you could hope for in a diner.

I ordered the Greek omelet with sourdough bread.  It was great! The omelet had feta cheese, spinach, and onion.   The sour bread was perfectly toasted and had just the right amount of butter. The food was great, and there were a lot of options.

James Browns Place Omelet

The chef accidentally broke Heather’s overeasy eggs so gave her the second set.  Heather knew she had made it as a blogger because she got two eggs while reviewing the diner (we weren’t paid to review this or any diner).

The infamous eggs.
The infamous eggs.

This is a very traditional diner and has every element you would expect in a diner.

Cost: $

The price for my omelet and coffee was $9.50.  That was one of the cheapest diner meals I’ve had in a while.  While the gas in New York is expensive, the diner food is cheap.

Overall thoughts: A

Would I come back?

I had a great experience at the James Brown Place in Rochester.  Next time I’m in Rochester, I will have to come back!   It was great to have the owner of the restaurant chatting at our table.  Mr. Brown is a great guy, hilarious and it is obvious why he is so successful.

Cliff notes:

James Browns Place
Rochester, NY

Atmosphere: A
Coffee: A
Food: A
Price 5-10 dollars
Overall Atmosphere: A

 Question for you: Have you ever met a restaurant owner?