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West Essex Diner (Fairfield)

West Essex Diner (Fairfield)

Recently I was at the West Essex Diner in Fairfield, NJ. I was in the area and googled diners closeby, and it came up. I’ve been to Fairfield a few times, and I wondered why I hadn’t ever discovered the West Essex Diner. Once I got there, it was abruptly clear. The West Essex Diner takes the place of the Versaille Diner which I went to last year. I didn’t “love” the Versaille Diner, so truthfully I wasn’t surprised it closed. I did laugh, when I got there, and I was like “I’ve been to this location before” and realized it had closed and reopened.

Atmosphere: A
The West Essex Diner is clean and modern. The outside is welcoming. When I was there last, it was under construction, and I remember watching construction workers do work on the outside. The inside is clean, bright, and looks exactly like what you picture in a NJ diner.

West Essex Diner Fairfield nj

Coffee: B
The coffee was brewed hot and fresh, but there wasn’t anything unique or unusual about it. It was terrible but not surprising either, somewhere in the middle as diner coffee goes.

West Essex Diner Fairfield nj

Food: B
The West Essex Diner has everything you can imagine. There are pages of breakfast options, different lunch and dinner options and a full page of specials too.

West Essex Diner Fairfield nj

I decided to order the “Heart Attack Burger.”  It was two patties with American cheese, grilled onions, and mushrooms. It also came with fries. The burger itself was good. It was a lot of burger, and there was plenty of grease that dripped off. The fries were bland, but they weren’t terrible. I would order it again.

Service: B
When we arrived, the diner was about 1/3 filled. We were sat in an awkward location and waited for a long time for someone to come over. It became clear that none of the servers knew we were in their section. Our waiter was friendly, and our drinks were refilled often. I think I blinked and our food came out, in fact, it came out in less time than it took to take our orders.

Cost: $
For my burger and coffee, the cost was $17.

Overall Thoughts/Would I Come Back?
I think the West Essex Diner is a much improvement of the Versaille Diner and I would go back if I’m in the area. They have a lot of fun breakfast options that I would like to try.

Atmosphere: A
Coffee: B
Food: B
Service: B
Cost: $12-17

You Can See All 243 Diner Reviews Here.

Questions for you:
What is your favorite kind of burger?
Have you ever been to a place that’s reopened under new management? 

 

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Paul’s Family Diner (Mountain Lakes)

Paul’s Family Diner (Mountain Lakes)

On our way to go hiking at High Point State Park, we stopped at Paul’s Family Diner in Mountain Lakes, NJ. The area is about 2 hours from me, so I don’t make it up here a lot. Northwest NJ, has a lot of hiking and elevation change. I enjoy how rural it is.

When we got to Pauls Family Diner around 7 am, there were only a couple of other parties in the diner.

Pauls family diner mountain lakes nj

Atmosphere: A
Paul’s Family Diner looks like a modern, NJ Diner. The outside is chrome and draws you in.  The inside has plenty of seating including booths, tables, and a bar. There is a massive dessert case which captivated me every time I walked by.

Pauls family diner mountain lakes nj

Coffee: A
The coffee was brewed hot and fresh. The coffee was excellent and at 7 am on a Sunday, you hope it is!

Pauls family diner mountain lakes nj

Food: A
Paul’s Family Diner has all of the regular options from breakfast meals including pancakes, omelets, and french toast. There are many different lunch and dinner options as well as a page of specials. They even had a sheet of breakfast specials (which you don’t always see at a diner).

I knew we were going to be out hiking for a while, so I ordered the steak and eggs. Steak and eggs is one of my favorite diner breakfast meals.  I’m more likely to order an egg meal versus pancakes. The steak itself was massive, and I ordered scrambled eggs which were cooked well. It came with buttered rye toast and hashbrowns, both were good.

The meal was exactly what I was looking for.

Pauls family diner mountain lakes nj

Service: A
We couldn’t ask for better service. The waiter was friendly, and the food came out within 5 minutes. I think I blinked and it was done.

Cost: $$
For my steak and eggs, it was $20. Most steak and egg breakfasts in North Jersey Diners are between $15-18 because of the steak, but still not cheap.

Overall Thoughts/Would I Come Back?
I enjoyed my meal at Paul’s Family Diner, and I would go back. It was cooked well, the service was excellent, and I have no complaints.

Atmosphere: A
Coffee: A
Food: A
Service: A
Cost: $15-20
Overall: A

You Can See All 242 Diner Reviews Here.

Questions for you:
What is your favorite breakfast?
How do you like your steak cooked?

Tony’s Freehold Grill (Freehold)

Tony’s Freehold Grill (Freehold)

Recently I went to Tony’s Freehold Grill in Freehold, NJ. My good friend, Alexis and I wanted a diner stop before heading to Manasquan Reservoir. Tony’s Freehold Grill has been on my “to do” list for quite some time, and this worked out.

Tonys Freehold Grill Freehold nj

Atmosphere: A
The atmosphere of Tony’s Freehold Grill is as diner as you can get. It’s a small, shiny, metallic building in downtown Freehold. The inside has a small bar as well as plenty of booths. It’s a picturesque old school diner.

Tonys Freehold Grill Freehold nj

Coffee: A
The coffee was brewed hot and fresh. It didn’t taste of old burned diner coffee. Bonus, Tony’s Freehold Grill has personalized coffee mugs. I always appreciate a personalized mug.

Tonys Freehold Grill Freehold nj

Food: B
Tony’s Freehold Grill has everything an old school; the picturesc diner would have. There are dozens of breakfast options including an entire page dedicated to omelets. There are just as many lunch options. After quite some deliberation, we both opted for wraps. I don’t know the last time I had a wrap at a diner. The Mediterranean wrap sounded good, and it was stuffed with grilled chicken, feta, lettuce, tomato, and onion.

Tonys Freehold Grill Freehold nj

I chose a side salad instead of fries. The salad was good, but there was nothing too unique about it.

Tonys Freehold Grill Freehold nj

Service: B
The waitress was friendly, but we could have used more refills on drinks. She didn’t come around too much. Other than that, the experience was excellent.

Overall Thoughts/Would I Come Back?
I liked Tony’s Freehold Grill, and it was a nice stop in Freehold. I would go back. There are plenty of options, and it’s a great diner in central Jersey.

You can see all 241 Diner Reviews here.

Questions for you:
What is the last old school restaurant you’ve been too?
What is the best wrap you’ve had?

Hiking Parker Loop at High Point State Park

Hiking Parker Loop at High Point State Park

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I woke up early and drove up to Northwest NJ for an all-day hike. We ultimately hiked 13.4 miles, and it took us about 6 hours.

We’ve wanted to get to High Point State Park for a while. It’s just over 2 hours away and the highest point of elevation in NJ. The Parker Loop Trail was about 15 miles long, but there were a lot of spots, you could quickly go off trail, or get lost. If we did it again, we would follow the blue path which ultimately takes you about 15 miles but is much easier to follow.

The trail itself is moderate. It was only difficult for a couple of climbs and also due to the length. It had everything from climbing, to scrambles, to stream crossings, and walking along dried up water beds.

It started off easy and flat. We wandered through the trail for a couple of miles before hitting a stream.

Hiking Parker Loop Trail High Point State Park NJ

I’ve never crossed a stream before, so it was terrifying. What if I fell in? My husband just went across like no big deal.

Hiking Parker Loop Trail High Point State Park NJ

Hiking Parker Loop Trail High Point State Park NJ

Hiking Parker Loop Trail High Point State Park NJ

After the major stream crossing, we followed the trail for several more miles. There are spots that it’s easy to get lost because the trail isn’t the best marked. We added a few sections and had to double back. Ultimately, we would have followed the blue path which does about the same thing but is easier to follow.

Hiking Parker Loop Trail High Point State Park NJ

We got to a beautiful campground and lake around mile 6. You can rent cabins and hang out there; it looks like a beautiful and peaceful spot to relax.

Hiking Parker Loop Trail High Point State Park NJ

As we kept going, we noticed how many large trees were down. New Jersey has had a lot of storms recently, so I have to wonder if it’s from that, but we noticed dozens, maybe even 100.

Hiking Parker Loop Trail High Point State Park NJ

Around mile 9, comes the longest and steepest climb which takes you to the top. The view is one of my favorites, and if you look, you can see PA, NY, and NJ. (The Northern NJ tri-state).

Hiking Parker Loop Trail High Point State Park NJ

Hiking Parker Loop Trail High Point State Park NJ

Finally, we headed back. Since we had gotten lost a few times and doubled back, we had no idea how long the trail would be for us. We ultimately did 13.4 miles.  It was a lot of fun, and we are looking forward to doing a few more all day hikes before it gets too hot.

Hiking Parker Loop Trail High Point State Park NJ

You Can See More Hikes Here.

Questions for you:

Have you ever gotten lost?

During one of our first hikes, we got completely lost at Bear Mountain and ended up taking an Uber back. Thank goodness there was one. We learned a lot from that, and how to be much safer hikers.

What is the longest hike you’ve done?

 

Maple Leaf Diner (Maplewood)

Maple Leaf Diner (Maplewood)

After hiking at Watchung Park, I decided to stop at the Maple Leaf Diner. I wasn’t starving, but I did want to check out a new diner. The Maple Leaf Diner looked like a cute stop in downtown Maplewood.

Atmosphere: B
It’s not a huge metallic diner, nor is it big at all. It’s located in the heart of Maplewood. There is plenty of street parking, but like any downtown, you might need to park and walk.

maple leaf diner maplewood

The inside is modest with several booths and a few tables, as well as a small bar.

Coffee: A
The coffee was brewed hot and fresh. I have no complaints. The waitress refilled it several times.

maple leaf diner maplewood

Food: B
I wasn’t sure what I was in the mood for. The Maple Leaf Diner has everything from breakfast, to lunch, and dinner options. On the specials, they had split pea soup listed which is one of my favorite soups. When I ordered, they were out.

maple leaf diner maplewood

I ultimately went with a BLT which I have no complaints with.  It was packed full.  I decided to order a side Ceasor salad which green with plenty of dressing.

maple leaf diner maplewood

Service: A
The waitress was friendly, and our food came out fast. It was a positive experience.

Cost: $
For my coffee and BLT, it was $12.

Overall Thoughts/Would I Come Back?
I liked the Maple Leaf Diner, and it was a positive experience. It’s not a large diner, but it’s a great local small town. There is plenty to do in Maplewood, so it’s fun to spend a few hours there.

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

You Can See All 240 Diner Reviews Here

Questions for you:
Are there any cute downtowns near you? NJ is filled with small, local, communities.
What is your favorite kind of soup? 

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