Three Years of Diner Reviews

It’s now been three years since I started reviewing Diners.  Since starting my quest, I’ve been to about 130 diners in New Jersey and about 50 diners in other parts of the world. You can see reviews here or using the link at the top of the blog.

March of 2014 is when I first started reviewing diners.  At year three, I decided to highlight some of my favorite (and not so much diners).  Keep in mind, these are my personal favorites.  Do you have a favorite or different opinion about a New Jersey diner?  Comment below.

All Time Favorite Diner: Mastoris

Mastoris isn’t a typical diner.  It’s more of a modern and upscale restaurant, but I like their food and cake.  This was one of the first diners I went too and I still continue to go back.

Least Favorite Diner: Garden State Diner, Ponzios or Stafford

Each diner was a definite letdown.  Ponzios served me a salad with still frozen fish and canned pears.   It’s a shame because Ponzios is almost always listed as a “top NJ diner”, but I haven’t had a positive experience any of the three times I’ve gone!

Diner gone to the most times: Vincentown

I used to live closer to Vincentown.  Sadly, the quality of the food and service has gone down hill, so I haven’t been much at all.  I went from going three times a month to none.  I’ve been 30+ times

Best cake: Mastoris (I wanted them to make my wedding cake, but they wouldn’t deliver).

Mastoris Cake
But which cake to get?  Hint: We got both carrot cake and red velvet cake

Personal Favorite Diners: 

Year 3, didn’t bring any significant changes to my “all time” favorite list.
Mastoris Great cake
Jefferson Diner Also great cake
State Line Diner Also great cake
Chit Chat Diner Great atmosphere
Mustache Bills Quinetesantal diner of NJ

Tropicana How many “tropical” diners do you know of?

Healthiest Diner: Silver Diner (it’s a 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.  Candlewyck Diner coffee

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.

tropicana diner

Best value: Elmer Diner (cinnamon roll) and Angelos (my entire meal was $5) Angelos Diner Glassboro Nj

At the Elmer Diner: A Coffee, cinnamon bun, eggs, toast, and hashbrowns was $8.00.  You can’t beat that!

Most expensive: Vincentown: They charge 75 cents extra per coffee with whipped cream.  I’ve ordered a salad with salmon which costs $20+.  Every meal is going to be at least $18.

Best Pancakes: Red Velvet Pancakes at Four Seasons Diner: Unlike the Springfield Diner, they were actually red velvet.  The cream cheese frosting was perfect. Four Seasons Diner Toms River

Best Eggs: The Surburban Diner offered a unique breakfast bowl with hashbrowns, melted cheese, onions and a fried egg on top.  You don’t see that many diners!suburban diner

Best Diner Gyro: The Woodstown Diner.  Gyros are a staple of any diner.  I haven’t posted the review yet, but the Woodstown diner had a neatly packaged gyro with plenty of meat.  It was easy to eat as well!

Woodstown Diner

Best Decor: 

Chit Chat Diner: I love the black and white retro theme. 

Tropicana Diner: It felt like a blast from the Carribean. 

Tropicana diner

Angelos: It’s the metallic trolley car diner that you picture.

Angelos Diner Glassboro Nj

Best Out of State Diners:

Trolley Car, Philadelphia (fresh ingredients as well as beer on tap)

John’s City Diner, Birmingham (Best chicken and waffles)

So where does my diner journey go next?

 

Questions for you:
Have you been to any NJ diners? 
Do you have any diner recommendations from anywhere? 

Advertisements

John’s City Diner (Birmingham, Al)

First, did you know it’s International Waffle Day?  It’s the perfect day to celebrate at a diner…

When I relocated to Alabama, I knew I had to go John’s City Diner. It has been consistently named one of Alabamas best diners. Making the time to get to the diner is tough.

For a diner, it has odd hours including not being open on Sundays and only open for dinner on Saturdays.  So yes, John’s City Diner is not open for breakfast on weekends.  Due to my schedule, I almost thought I wouldn’t be able to make it there at all.

Johns City Diner is located right in downtown Birmingham.  Since it’s in the downtown, it’s located in a row of buildings and not the usual stand-alone diner you see.

Johns City Diner Birmingham

Atmosphere: B
The outside has a big sign that says, Johns. There isn’t a lot from the outside that screams diner. In fact, it’s easy to miss the restaurant unless you’re looking for it.  I ran by it twice during the Drum Run and had no idea.

The inside is painted to match a diner atmosphere. There are several booths and tables. There is an awkward bar in the corner, but it doesn’t appear to be used much.

Coffee: A
The coffee was brewed fresh, and the whipped cream was homemade. It was one of the better diner coffee I’ve had recently.Johns City Diner Birmingham

Service: C
The waitress seemed preoccupied or as if she was having a bad day. Even though we got there at opening (5 pm), it took a while for our table to receive food and drinks.

Food: B
The menu at Johns City Diner is limited. There is a single page of food, and they are well known for their mac and cheese as well as chicken and waffles. I had been very excited to try their chicken and waffles, but when we went, they were out of chicken. To be honest, I was disappointed but what can you do.

For an appetizer, we ordered the fancy bacon which was bacon with grits. It was a small portion, but the bacon and grits were delicious.  It was rich and while small, quite filling.  It was some of the best grits I’ve had!

Johns City Diner Birmingham

Because they were out of chicken and waffles, I ordered the pork chops. I was pleasantly surprised because it was a huge portion of pork chops. I was expecting a smaller size. The pork chops were delicious and cooked perfectly. It also came with a large portion of sweet potatoes and garlic spinach. I enjoyed both. Johns City Diner Birmingham

I was disappointed Johns City Diner was out of their signature menu item, but the food was still good.  I was able to go again right before we left and ordered the chicken and waffles.  It was by far the best chicken and waffles I’ve had to date.  The chicken portion was actually bigger than the waffle! Johns City Diner Birmingham

Dessert: A
We ordered the white chocolate bread pudding which was perfect. I have no complaints.  I prefer bread pudding that is actually a peice of bread so this fit the bill. Johns City Diner Birmingham

Cost: $$
For my coffee, the appetizer, entree, and dessert the cost was $40. It was pricey for a diner, but I’m not sure I would classify Johns City Diner as a diner.

Overall thoughts/ Summary:
I liked Johns City Diner, but I was extremely disappointed they were out of the chicken and waffles.  If I’m in the area, I would like to come back, but with their limited weekend hours, I don’t know if that’s possible.

Atmosphere: B
Coffee: A
Service: C
Food: B
Dessert: A
Cost: $20+
Overall: B

Similar Diners: Vincentown, Mastoris

Questions for you:
Were is the best place you’ve had chicken and waffles? 
Has a restaurant ever been out of something you were excited to order?

Landmark Diner (Charlotte, NC)

While traveling through Charlotte, my husband and I chose to stop at the Landmark Diner. It’s been on a Diners, Drive Ins and Dives so we figured it must be good. We got there around 7 pm, and the hostess told us there was a 25-minute wait. We were surprised but thought it must be good.

As we were waiting, the hostess rudely told multiple customers they needed to wait outside. Then she couldn’t remember or find the people she was looking for. For the 25 minutes we waited, we noticed multiple tables that weren’t being used and were perfectly clean. Needless to say, we started off on the wrong foot.

Atmosphere: C
The atmosphere of the Landmark Diner is outdated. They could use a makeover.

The outside has plenty of lighting and is easily spotted from the highway.

Service: F
I will preface this by saying our waitress was extremely friendly. She clearly had too many tables, but she took great care of us.

I can’t overlook how rude the hostess was. She threw our menus on the table, told guests they needed to wait outside and couldn’t care any less. Unforatetely, the hostess, is the first person we saw, and we watched her for close to half an hour.

The food in the kitchen also took almost an hour to come out. We saw multiple larger parties receive their food much quicker. By the time we received our food, we had been in the Landmark Diner for nearly 90 minutes.  With the exception of our actual waitress, it was by far one of the worst experiences I’ve had while dining out.

Coffee: A
The coffee at the Landmark Diner was good. There was nothing unusual about it, but it was often refilled and always warm.  It took a while to come out, but once it arrived, it was good.

Landmark diner charlotte

Food: C
After waiting about an hour for our food, I had no idea what to expect. The Landmark Diner has every stereotypical diner option you could imagine. I wanted to order the roasted leg of lamb, but they were out. I decided to go with their land and sea special. It came with 10 ounces of steak and shrimp.

The steak was good for a diner and seasoned well. Sometimes diner steak can be hit and miss.  The side of shrimp side was just as good. It was well seasoned with just a touch of old bay seasoning.

Landmark diner charlotte

The sides, however, were dry and stale. The sweet potatoes were doused in butter, and the French fries and onion rings were cold. Landmark diner charlotte

I liked the main entree but left the fries.

Dessert: B
While waiting to be seated, we had stared at the dessert for 30 minutes beforehand, and I knew I wanted the red velvet cake. We ordered the red velvet cake with vanilla ice cream. Like the mean, the main component (red velvet cake) was delicious. There was plenty of frosting, and the cake itself was moist. The ice cream, however, had freezer burn.

Landmark diner charlotte

Price: $$
For the coffee, meal, cake and ice cream the cost was $28.

Overall thoughts/Would I come back?
The food was decent but I was so turned off by the hostess attitude as well as the lengthy wait, I probably won’t be back.

Summary:
Atmosphere: C
Service: F
Coffee: C
Food: C
Dessert: B
Price: $15-25
Overall: C

Questions for you:
Have you ever had a rude hostess or be asked to wait outside?
What’s the longest you’ve waited at a restaurant?

Four Seasons Diner (Toms River)

A couple of weeks ago I went to the Four Seasons Diner in Toms River. This isn’t to be confused with the All Seasons Diner.

The owner of the website, New Jersey Isn’t Boring, and I met for lunch. Incase you’re interested we’ve been to several diners together including:
Park Nine
Daphne’s 
Sherbans
Fountainbleau
Jersey Diner
Freeway Diner (Now closed)
Broad Sreet Diner (Her 100th review)!

Holy moly, we’ve definitely been to a lot of diners together. One of her goals and jobs is to review all of the diners in the state, so it’s always great to get her perspective as well as learn about fun New Jersey activities going on!  You can see her review here.

Atmosphere: B
The Four Seasons Diner actually used to be an old Wawa. If you look carefully, you can tell but if you just walked by you would never guess. Inside the Four Seasons Diner looks like a typical restaurant, not a diner. It’s not bad, but it’s not an old metallic building. It’s a clean restaurant, but it doesn’t scream diner.

four seasons diner

Service: C
The diner wasn’t crowded, but we waited for a while to be sat. If it were busy, it wouldn’t have a big deal, but we just waited. We went long periods without seeing out waitress. She was nice. However, she left our table for long periods of time.

Coffee: B
The coffee was good. There was nothing unique or special about it, but there was nothing bad either. Four Seasons Diner Toms River

Food: B
The Four Seasons Diner had every time of diner food you can imagine. Toms River is right along the shore, and they have plenty of seafood options!  I’ve heard their red pancakes were good, so that is what I chose to order. The pancakes were extremely thick and came with a cream cheese frosting. Of any red velvet pancakes I’ve had, these were definitely the best.

Four Seasons Diner Toms River

My date ordered the pizza special which was interesting. It was more of a flatbread than pizza which was disappointing considering they have a brick oven.

Cost: $$
For my pancakes and coffee the cost was $12. Not bad!

Overall Thoughts/Would I come back?
Even though the service wasn’t the best, I enjoyed the Four Seasons Diner and there were a lot of specials I was interested in trying.  I would love to come back next time I’m in town!

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

Nearby diners I’ve tried: New Crystal Diner  (I need to get to more shore diners)

Questions for you:
What’s your favorite type of pancake?
Have you ever had Wawa?

 

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?

Angelo’s Diner (Pitman, NJ)

Before Angela moved, we were able to go for one last run and diner together.  Despite Angelos being close and being ranked as one of the best diners in New Jersey, neither of us had been.  It’s a tiny, local diner and only seats about 20 people at one time.

When we arrived around 10:30 am, it was filled with locals.  We sat at the counter but then moved to a booth when one opened up.  

Atmosphere:  A
Angelos is the stereotypical diner.  You feel as though you are walking into a time machine. It’s an old metallic building on the corner of the street.  The inside only has booths and a full-length bar.  You seat yourself, and it’s clear it is a local favorite.

Service: A
Despite being busy, the waitress was friendly and refilled our beverages.  She was one of the nicest waitresses I’ve had, and she made it a point to get to know us a little bit.   For being crowded, the food came out extremely quickly.

Coffee: A
The coffee was often refilled and was always hot.  Like many stereotypical diners, It was strong.  Plus, there was plenty of whipped cream, so it was perfect.Angelos Diner Glassboro Nj

Food: A
The menu at Angelos is extremely small.  There is nothing fancy and it a typical greasy spoon diner.  You won’t find gourmet salads or fancy filet mignon.  There a few different types of omelets, pancakes, eggs and toast.  I decided to order two over easy eggs with fried tomatoes and rye toast.

Angelos Diner Glassboro Nj

Growing up in England, I loved fried tomatoes.  I haven’t seen them at too many diners so it was a rare treat and they were cooked well.  The toast came lathered in butter which tasted great, and the over easy eggs were perfect.  In all, it was a great meal.

Cost: $
For my meal and coffee, it was $5.50.  It was literally the cheapest restaurant meal I’ve ever gotten and will probably ever get.  It was excellent.

Summary/Overall Thoughts:
Angelos is a great stop if you’re ever in Pitman.  It’s a fast, inexpensive and great meal.  I wouldn’t go for a fancy date or anything, but it’s a great diner.  I’ll be back again.

Atmosphere: A
Service: A
Coffee: A
Food: A
Cost: $3-7
Overall: A

 Closeby diners: PBs Diner and Taproom, Seven Star Diner

Questions for you:
What is the cheapest restaurant meal you’ve had?
Have you tried fried tomatoes?

Kettle and Grille

Recently, I went to the Kettle and Grille in Marlton, NJ. While there is no “Diner” in the name, it does serve breakfast all day, and it looks and feels like a diner.  It’s more “dinerlike” than many restaurants with diner in the name (Like the Route 248 Diner).

I arrived at the diner at 7:30 on a weekday and it was shockingly packed.  I expected a quiet meal but we almost got the last table.

Atmosphere: B
It’s in a shopping center.  It’s not a stand-alone metal building, and it’s hard to find the actual restaurant.  Once you’re inside, it does feel like a diner with plenty of booths and a pretty open kitchen area.

Coffee: C
The coffee wasn’t hot at all.  It was surprising because the Kettle and Grille were crowded and you would think other people wanted their coffee. However, it was luke warm, and I ended up not drinking my second cup.

Kettle and Grille Marlton

Service: B
The waitress was friendly.  With how busy it was, she was running around the restaurant.  She was shocked when she saw I was married and said: “I thought you were 16”.  It’s better then food comments but getting mistaken as a 16-year-old is never fun.

Food: B
There are the typical “diner options” at the Kettle and Grille including all day breakfast, several different steak and seafood entrees.  There is nothing unique but they do have everything a diner “should” have.  I ordered their Greek salad with chicken.  It came with a lot of pita bread, and I have no complaints.

Kettle and Grille Marlton

For a Greek Dressing, it was unusual.  To me, it tasted (and looked) like Italian dressing.  It was unique.  The salad itself was good and I appreciated they use spinach leaves versus romaine.

Kettle and Grille Marlton

Cost: $
For my salad and coffee, the cost was $16 which is one of the cheaper diners I’ve been too.

Overall/Would I come back?
I’ve been to Kettle and Grille twice now, and both experiences have been decent. It’s not my favorite or least favorite restaurant, but there is good food.  I would recommend it if you’re ever in the area.

Closeby Diners: Marlton Diner, Shamong Diner

Summary:
Atmosphere: B
Coffee: C
Service: B
Food: B
Cost: $10-16

Questions for you:
What time do you typically eat dinner?
What is your favorite salad base? Do you like spinach, romaine, arugula?