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

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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?

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?

Budd Lake Diner

Recently, I went to the Budd Lake Diner in Mount Olive, New Jersey.  I went on a Monday for lunch, and it was fairly busy.  Luckily, there was plenty of parking.

For some reason, I had it in my mind the Budd Lake Diner was going to be a metallic diner.  It wasn’t, but it was still nice.

Atmosphere: B
The atmosphere of the Budd Lake Diner is different than what I anticipated, but it wasn’t bad.  For some reason, I expected it to be in a big, shiny, metallic building.

The outside is actually a square, cobblestone building while the inside is what you expect in a diner.  There are plenty of booths, several tables, and a full-length bar.  It took a while to locate the dessert case which is hidden in the back.  I would have ordered dessert, but I couldn’t see it well.  I wanted a giant diner cookie to go, but they didn’t seem to have them.

Coffee: B
The coffee was brewed fresh, and the waitress refilled it often.  While there was nothing unique or extraordinary, it wasn’t bad either.

Budd Lake Diner Mount Olive

Service: B
The waitress at the Budd Lake Diner seemed a bit standoffish.  She was never rude but wasn’t welcoming either.  She refilled our beverages and brought our food out quickly.   It was one of the faster restaurants we’ve been too!

Food: C
The Budd Lake Diner serves everything 24-7.  You can get a steak at 4 am if you want it.  I always appreciate 24-7 diners because you can usually get any food you want at any time.  Breakfast at 10 pm? Or dinner at 6 am…

I ordered scrambled eggs, with “Taylor ham,” and hash browns as well as buttered rye toast.  I was disappointed with the portion size of the food.  Normally scrambled diner eggs are light and fluffy, but these just tasted packaged.  The Taylor Ham was good, and it’s hard to mess up toast.  Was it the greatest diner meal, I’ve had? No, but it was edible.  It was one of the smallest portions of food I’ve received!

budd lake diner mount olive

Cost: $$
For my meal and coffee, the cost was about $11.  It was expensive for the quality and quantity of the food.

Overall Thoughts/Would I come back? 
The Budd Lake Diner wasn’t a bad stop, and it was a typical diner in New Jersey.  There wasn’t anything unique or unusual to draw me back, and I found it more pricey for the quality and quantity of food.

Atmosphere: B
Service: C
Coffee: B
Food: C
Cost: $8-20
Overall: C

Nearby Diners I’ve been: River Star, Randolph, and Jefferson (on of my top 5)

Questions for you: 
What is your favorite way to eat eggs? 
New Jersey friends: Is it, Taylor Ham or Pork Roll? 😉 

Staying Prepared on Long Days

Recently I’ve been out of my house a lot.  When I mean a lot, I mean most days I’m away between 10-14.  Which for me, is a lot!

Between work and volunteering, I’ve been spending a lot of time in my car. For the first week, I wasn’t as prepared and forgot anything from clothing to food.  I quickly realized that I need to start planning ahead.

Now I have an entire day kit in the trunk of my car, complete with running shoes.  If I can squeeze a 3 mile run in, it’s a good day!  (Like yesterday).As most people know, I like Quest Bars a lot.  I’ve talked about Quest several times on LOLZ blog, so when they asked to partner together last year I was more than excited!

Thinking out loud, I’ve used them since college.  At first, it was hard to locate them, and the only place you could buy them was online.  It was one of the first foods I actually bought online!  Now they are becoming more accessible and are in many grocery stores, but the newest place they can be found is 7-11.

While driving home one day, I stopped at 7-11 for coffee and a snack and found the cereal bars.  I was pleasantly surprised, and even though my coffee had plenty of sugar in it, Quest Bars do not.

quest cereal bars

A few reasons why I like Quest Cereal Bars:

  1. Each of the bars has 12 grams of protein, 110 calories, 2-3 grams of net carbs and 6-7 grams of fiber
  2. They have less sugar and carbs compared to other cereal bars
  3. They contain more protein than the average cereal bar
  4. Just tastes good (let’s be honest, some protein bars taste like cardboard)

Since I’m not running as much, it’s important to look more at the quality of things going into my body.  I can’t get away with eating a lot of extra junk every single day.  I’m not saying give up sweets, but I would rather focus on quality nutrition and save desserts/treats for another time.

So What Else Do I have in My Car for Personal Needs?

  • Two full sets of clothing. Do I need a more casual look, or more dressed up?
  • One full set of running clothing complete with shoes (I’ve used this 5 times in 3 weeks)
  • An entire Box of Quest Cereal Bars (Because you never know when you want more snacks)
  • A gallon of water: It’s easier, cheaper, and faster than stopping when thirsty.
  • Rain Jacket/Umbrella because I basically bring all inclement weather to me.
  • Emergency cash: I do keep $20 in my car incase something happens that a credit card is not usable.
  • Backup Cell Phone Charger: You never know, in high school, my car got stuck on the Monitor Merrimac Bridge Tunnel in Newport News, VA when the transmission went out. Guess who didn’t have a usable cell phone?
  • First Aid Kid
  • Duct Tape: I don’t know, it fixes things.

I can honestly say even though I’m busy and running less, I’m enjoying where my life is right now.  It did take some adjustments and getting used to but staying prepared was the main key.

Thanks to Quest Nutrition for sponsoring this post.  I have been using Quest protein bars for years, and I strongly recommend them.

Questions for you:
What do you keep in your car incase of emergencies?
How long are you out of your house each day?

Northfield Diner

Recently I found myself in the Somers Point area.  Since it was around dinner time, I decided to stop at a local diner.  I had already been to the Windjammer which I’m a fan of but drove a little further north to the Northfield Diner.  

When I arrived, there was only one car in the parking lot.  To be honest, I didn’t even know if the diner was open.  Luckily when I walked in, there were about 4 parties dining.  Since it’s a locals area, my guess is they all walked! 

Atmosphere: C

Northfield Diner Somers Point NJ

The Northfield diner atmosphere is everything you hope in for.  It’s a big, open, diner with plenty of booths, tables, and a full sized bar.  They have a few desserts towards the front.  

There were, however, a few small quirks including not having placements and the blender being in the front.  I guess someone was getting a milkshake or smoothie when we arrived because it was in full use.  When they first started using it, I honestly thought something had broken in the diner.

Coffee: B

The coffee at the Northfield Diner is decent.  There is nothing unique or unusual about it, but it’s not bad either.  The waitress added a bowl of whipped cream versus adding it directly on top.  I don’t have any complaints.  Northfield Diner Somers Point NJ

Service: B

The service at the Northfield Diner wasn’t bad, but it was slow for a number of people in the restaurant.  It took over 25 minutes for our food to arrive which was surprising due to how empty it was.  

Food: B

The menu is massive, and they have most anything a diner would typically have.  In fact, it has one of the biggest menus I’ve seen in awhile.  There were over 6 pages of options including breakfast, plenty of salads, specials, and seafood.  

I ordered a Jalapeño Burger.  When it arrived, I was pleasantly surprised.  I wasn’t sure what to expect and realistically didn’t have high expectations.  

The bun was perfectly toasted and tasted great.  What really impressed me was the jalapenos weren’t from a jar and were fresh.  The patty itself was juicy.  

Northfield Diner Somers Point NJ

The burger came with fries which were cooked well.  I haven’t had steak fries in awhile.  

Cost: $$

For my burger and coffee, the cost was $11.  I have no complaints.  

Overall summary/thoughts: 

I enjoyed the Northfield Diner.  The atmosphere is a bit outdated but other than that I have no complaints. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first arrived, but the food was good, and I would come back.  I was pleasantly surprised by the entire experience.  There was nothing crazy or unique, but it was a quality stop. 

Summary:

Atmosphere: C

Service: B

Coffee: B

Food: B

Cost: $8-12

Overall: B

Closeby Diners I’ve been too: Phoenix, Windjammer 

Question for you: 

What’s your favorite type of burger?