Americana Diner (West Orange)

There are a lot of Americana Diners in the State of New Jersey.  There are also a lot of towns with the name “Orange”, but that  is neither here nor there.  

Last week my good friend, and New Jersey Isn’t Boring website owner and I, and I met up to go the Thomas Edison Historical Park and a diner.  She shares the same love of diners as I do, and we’ve been to about a dozen together.  

Atmosphere: A

The Americana Diner is located on a cute main street but sticks right out with its retro silver and chrome exterior.  The inside is just as stereotypical diner.  It seats about 25 and has a full-length diner bar, multiple booths, and tables.  

Image via New Jersey Isn’t Website

Coffee:  B

The coffee wasn’t anything unique or unusual, but it was good.  I had plenty of refills.  

Americana Diner West Orange Coffee

Like the diner itself, it was stereotypical (but good) diner coffee.  Americana Diner West Orange Coffee

Service: B 

The waitress was friendly and gave us plenty of time to order.  Since the diner was relatively empty, I expected the food to come out quicker than it did.  

Food: C

There are plenty of options at the Americana Diner, but it’s also not a 20-page menu like many others.  I wasn’t terribly hungry, so I ordered one of my diner classics (which I actually can remember the last time I did?), a Greek salad with salmon.

Americana Diner West Orange

The salad itself was a bit watery and could have used a few more greens but had olives, anchovies, and a lot of onions.  They added a lot of dressing so it was one of the better diner salads I’ve had but it wasn’t amazing. 

Price: $$

For my coffee, and salad with salmon, the cost was $17.  

Overall Thoughts/Summary:

I liked the Americana Diner, and it wasn’t a bad stop.  It wasn’t my favorite diner but it wasn’t a bad stop. I can always appreciate a metallic, chrome, diner. 

Atmosphere: A

Service: B

Coffee: B

Food: C

Price: $8-15

Overall: B

Closeby Diners I’ve Been: Tops, Nutley (one of my favorites) and Six Brothers

Questions for you:

What’s one of your favorite restaurant meals?

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Park Wayne Diner (Wayne)

A few weeks ago, I was up north and decided to go to the Park Wayne Diner.  This isn’t to be confused with the Wayne Hills Diner which I went to last year.  Funny enough, this is the only diner in that area (including a personal favorite: Pompton Queen), that we didn’t fly too.  It was weird to drive through because it felt like such a long flight.

Atmosphere: A
You couldn’t ask for a more stereotypical New Jersey Diner.  It has a big, metallic, shiny exterior and the interior is filled with multiple red tables and booths.  Out of the diners I’ve been too, this definitely has one of the most stereotypical diner atmospheres.Park Wayne Diner

Service: B
For a weekend morning, it wasn’t as busy as I had anticipated.  That was okay by me!  The waitress didn’t bring us a lot of refills, and it felt as though they might be understaffed for the day.  She was friendly and gave us several recommendations which I can always appreciate.  It wasn’t bad service, but they needed more servers.

Coffee: B
The coffee was brewed hot every time, but it was nothing to write home about.  The cups were also a bit smaller than I wanted.  It wasn’t bad but it didn’t stand out either. Park Wayne Diner

Food: B
The menu at the Park Wayne Diner is huge.  They have a dozen pages. Since they are open 24-7, they serve anything anytime.  Those are my favorite types of diners, but it’s not as common as it used to be.  Believe it or not, 24-7 diners are becoming harder to find.

I decided to order the arugula, spinach, and cheese omelet with a side of grits.  It was one of the biggest omelets I’ve ever had, plus it was stuffed filled to the brim. Park Wayne Diner

The grits, however, were boring and bland.  Since it’s rare to find grits in the Northeast, I was hoping they would be more interesting, but they tasted like they came from a box.  Yes, I realize that I’m not in the South but there are plenty of restaurants that serve excellent foreign cuisine, and I don’t live there either.

Cost: $
For the omelet, grits, and coffee the cost was $12 which wasn’t expensive for the portion size.

Overall thoughts:
You won’t find a more stereotypical NJ Diner then the Park Wayne Diner.  Overall, I enjoyed my experience there and will definitely be back next time we go hiking up that route.

Summary:
Atmosphere: A
Service: B
Coffee: B
Food: B
Cost: $8-15
Overall: B

Closeby Diners I’ve reviewed:

Pompton Queen  (one of my top 5 favorite NJ diners!) and Wayne Hills
Also relevant: Flying to Pompton Plains

Questions for you:
What’s your favorite type of omelet?
Where can I find southern style grits in NJ or Philadelphia?

Hampton Diner (Newton, NJ)

Lately, I’ve been to a lot of North Jersey Diners.  The Hampton Diner has been on my to do list for a while. However, it’s almost 2 hours from my house.  I could drive there and back, but it would be a 4 hour day and between tolls, not my cheapest endeavor.  So finally, when I was already in the area, I stopped by.  Surprisingly, the Hampton Diner is not in “Hampton” but in Newton, NJ.  To my knowledge, there is not actually a “Newton Diner.”

Atmosphere: B

The Hampton Diner is a big, normal, building.  While it’s decorated, it almost feels as though it’s missing a sign at the top.  There is a street sign, but it needs an actual sign inside.  The inside is large with plenty of booths, tables, and a full-length bar.

Coffee: A

The coffee at the Hampton Diner was good.  It wasn’t the best I’ve had, however, it was often refilled. When I needed a refill, no less than 3 servers asked.  How awesome is that? I have no complaints. Hampton Diner Newton NJ

Service: A

The service at the Hampton Diner was at the top.  As mentioned, when I needed more coffee or beverage refills, I was asked by three different people.  The food came out quickly too.  It was in the top 10% of diner services I’ve had.

Food: B

The Hampton Diner has plenty of options.  The Hampton Diner has one of the bigger diner menus I’ve seen.  There are plenty of breakfast, lunch, and dinner options.

I’ve heard positive things about their pancakes, so I ordered banana pancakes.  They weren’t terrible, but they weren’t life changing either.  They were light and fluffy and had several bananas chunks mixed in.  Plus they were each about the size of my hand.

Hampton Diner Newton NJ
My apologies for the lighting situation there

Cost: $

For the pancakes and coffee, the cost was $11.  Not a bad price.

Thoughts/Would I Come Back?

I enjoyed the Hampton Diner.  It wasn’t my favorite diner but not a bad stop either.  When I’m back in town, I will go back.  I will say, the service was excellent and it was worth the stop for that alone.

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

Nearby Diners I’ve been:  I haven’t explored too many around Sussex but the closest is the Jefferson Diner (a top 5 of mine!)

Questions for you:
What is your favorite kind pancakes?

Lacey Diner (Lacey Township)

Recently my good friend Cyd who is also the website owner of New Jersey Isn’t Boring, and I met at the Lacey Diner.  We had been planning to go for the last few months, but weather and timing never worked out.

We got to the Lacey Diner for early lunch, and it wasn’t busy.

Atmosphere: C
The atmosphere of Lacey Diner isn’t too interesting.  It’s located in an old shopping center and isn’t a stand-alone diner. Once you get inside, it has a few booths, tables, and a bar.  The only diner I’ve been too that’s smaller, is Angelos in Glassboro, NJ. Lacey Diner is small and cute with nothing unique or unusual.  It is, however, clean and well kept.

Service: A
The waitress at the Lacey Diner was excellent.  She was nice, refilled our beverages and was friendly.  We couldn’t have asked for a more positive experience.

Coffee: A
lacey dinerThe Lacey Diner brews my favorite coffee, Lacas.  It was hot and refilled often.  The waitress also added a lot of whipped cream.  It was definitely one of the better coffees I’ve had recently.

Food: B
The menu at the Lacey Diner is on the smaller side.  It is a small, front and back.  They have several breakfast options, sandwiches, and burgers.  Will you find a very healthy option?  Probably not, but it has a real diner menu.

I decided to order the Greek Omelet with home fries.  The Greek omelet was one of the better omelets I’ve had recently. It came with feta cheese, spinach and tomato. It was big but also had a lot of filling.  The home fries were nothing out of the ordinary but not bad either.

lacey diner

Cost: $
For me omelet and coffee, the cost was $11 which wasn’t bad.

Overall thoughts/Summary:

I liked the Lacey Diner and had a good experience.  It’s a nice, quiet, local, diner with great options.  If you’re looking for the stereotypical diner experience, you won’t go wrong with the Lacey Diner.

Atmosphere: C
Service: A
Coffee: A
Food: B
Cost: $7-12
Overall: B

Nearby Diners I’ve been too: Crystal Diner and Four Seasons Diner (Both in Toms River)

Questions for you:
What are your favorite omelets?
Do you like the beach?

 

Ellen’s Stardust Diner

When asking around, I heard Ellen’s Stardust Diner was a must stop in New York City.  It’s located on Broadway, and the waiters and waitresses take turns singing during the entire day.

So instead of background music, you have a show the whole time.  It’s more of an experience versus high-quality diner food.

Atmosphere: B 
Ellen’s Stardust Diner is everything you would want in a diner.  The outside is a large, shiny metallic building while the inside has multiple booths and tables. Ellens Stardust Diner Broadway

While New York is extremely crowded, the diner sits you very close to people.  If you are claustrophobic, it’s probably not the diner for you.  It’s so close, the waitress must physically pull the table out so you can sit down without putting your butt on someone else’s table.  Ellens Stardust Diner Broadway

Service: B
The service at Ellen’s Stardust Diner is interesting.  All of the servers sing and perform throughout their shift.

You might have to wait a few minutes as a server is performing.  All of the servers were extremely talented, and there was never a dull moment.  Many leave and go on to sing at Broadway.

As far as service goes, it’s hard because you know the waiters are busy performing but that also leaves large gaps of time that you might want a refill or are waiting for your food.  Our waiter was actually on break when we arrived, and he didn’t take our orders for at least 15 minutes.

Coffee: B

The coffee is good.  There isn’t anything unique about it, but it’s not bad coffee either.  I do wish we had more refills, but the staff was busy performing.  There was plenty of whipped cream though. Ellens Stardust Diner Broadway

Food: B
Ellen’s Stardust Diner has many breakfast options as well several dinner options.  They don’t serve everything all day, so if you are looking for breakfast, it’s important you go at the appropriate time.

We went to lunch, and I decided to order a turkey wrap.  The wrap itself was great and had a lot of turkey.  It was definitely filled up. Ellens Stardust Diner Broadway

The wrap also came with waffle fries which, to be honest were some of the best waffle fries I’ve had.  It was a solid diner meal. Ellens Stardust Diner Broadway

Cost: $$$
For the wrap and coffee, the cost was $22, and that’s one of the cheapest options there!  It’s easy to spend upwards of $30 on a single meal.  At Ellen’s Stardust Diner, you’re also paying for a show, so it’s important to keep that in mind.

Overall Thoughts/Summary:
I liked Ellen’s Stardust Diner, and it was a great and unique spot in NYC.  I would recommend it.  Just keep in mind it’s definitely more expensive, and you might wait over an hour to be seated.

Atmosphere: A
Service: B
Coffee: B
Food: B
Cost: $$$
Overall: B 
 

Questions for you: 
Have you ever seen a Broadway show? Have you ever been to a restaurant that includes a show? 

Crystal Lake Diner (Revisited)

Many moons ago, the Crystal Lake Diner was one of the first diners I reviewed (Not to be confused with another favorite in Toms River: The New Crystal Diner).

When we originally went, were living in central Jersey at the time and taking a day trip to the Haddonfield area.  Oddly enough the following year, we ended up moving about a quarter of a mile from the Crystal Lake Diner.  We have since moved again but we aren’t the only ones who have gone through changes in the last few years.

We never went to the Crystal Lake Diner while living so close because shortly after we originally went, there was a massive fire which left it closed for about 2 years.

When they reopened several months ago, I knew eventually I had to go back.

Atmosphere: A
To be honest, I don’t remember a whole lot from the previous visit a few years ago.  Now, the interior is brand new.  It’s modern, clean and had plenty of space.  We were immediately greeted with a dessert case including red velvet cake.

Crystal Lake Diner Haddon Township
Image via NJ Pen

Coffee: A
The Crystal Lake Diner brewed Lacas coffee which is a personal favorite of mine.  It’s a local blend and it’s hard to mess it up.  The waitress brought plenty of refills with plenty of whipped cream.  I couldn’t ask for better coffee.

Service: A
The waitress was one of the best I’ve had in a while.  Even though it was a busy Saturday night, she was always attentive to our table.  She made sure we had plenty of refills the entire time.  She was also extremely friendly.

Food: B
I do remember the menu at the Crystal Lake Diner is similar to their previous menu.  It’s typical of a diner and they have several specials but nothing too unique.  If you’re looking for a stereotypical diner menu, the Crystal Lake Diner is ideal.

Our dinner came with a homemade bread basket which came with cinnamon rolls, cheesy bread and corn muffins.  Each were great but my favorite was the cheesy bread.

Crystal Lake Diner Haddon Township

I decided to order the lobster ravioli.  It came out in a nice marinara sauce.  The ravilis themselves had plenty of lobster stuffed in without being overpowering.  I would have preferred something else to come along side the ravilis or just more of them.  I was actually surprised the portion size was not bigger.

Crystal Lake Diner Haddon Township

Dessert: B 

The lobster ravioli came with a pudding dessert so I chose the bread pudding.  The waitress asked if I wanted whipped cream and how could I refuse?

The bread pudding with good and it was obvious they made it in house (and it didn’t just come from a tube).  It was one of the better bread puddings I had, especially for coming with the meal.

Crystal Lake Diner Haddon Township bread

Price: $
For my lobster ravioli and coffee the price was $15 which wasn’t bad for the amount of food I got.  Especially considering it came with dessert!

Overall Thoughts/Summary:
I enjoyed the Crystal Lake Diner both times I’ve been.  I will definitely be back and it’s nice to see it reopen after the fire.  The service was by far one of the best I’ve had in awhile.

Summary: 
Atmosphere: A
Service: A
Coffee: A
Food: B
Dessert: B
Cost: $8-15
Overall: B

Closeby Diners: Metro Diner, Black horse Diner, Legacy Diner
 

Questions for you:
Have you ever been to a restaurant after it reopened? 
What is your favorite type of pudding? 

Cosmic Diner (NYC)

While in New York City, I wanted to try a new diner.  As luck would have if, we ended up at two.  The first we went too was the Cosmic Diner.  One great aspect about the diner is that it’s open 24-7.  Surprisingly, many diners are not!

Image via Cosmic Diner website.


cosmic diner NYC

Atmosphere: A
For a tiny diner, it has everything a diner needs.  There are plenty of booths, tables and a small bar located in the back.

Even though it was a small diner, you had space and weren’t sitting on top of anyone.

Coffee: A 
The coffee was brewed hot and fresh and I have no complaints.   cosmic diner NYC

Service: B
Despite not being terribly busy, our waitress wasn’t present too much.  It wasn’t the best service but she was never rude to us.  We could have definitely used more beverage refills.

Food: C 
The Cosmic Diner has all of the regular diner staples.  There is plenty of breakfast, lunch and dinner options but nothing unique or that sticks out.

I decided to stick with a tried and true diner staple: the gyro.  When it came I noticed, there was a huge mound of salad and minimal French fries.  Normally it’s quite the opposite. I asked for Greek dressing and the waitress said she had no idea was Greek dressing was.

The gyro itself was good.  There wasn’t anything too special about it.  The French fries were the same story.  I appreciated the amount of salad though.  cosmic diner NYC

Cost: $$
For my gyro and coffee, the cost was $18.  The value of the food was a turnoff. That is extremely pricey.  The value is not there.

Summary/Would I come back? 
It wasn’t a terrible stop but I probably won’t be back.  As mentioned, the value of the food was a turnoff. There are plenty of unique and fun restaurants close-by or cheaper restaurants with better quality food.  Was a bad meal?  No.  Was it a life changing, amazing meal?  No.

Atmosphere: A
Coffee: A
Food: C
Service: C
Price: $12-20
Overall: B 

Questions for you:
Do you like gyro?
New York City locals: what is your favorite diner?