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? 

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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?

 

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? 

The Spinning Wheel Diner

The Spinning Wheel has been in my diner “to do list” based on the name.  Similar to “Time to Eat a Diner“, occasionally I add diners solely based on the name.  Since I was in the area, I decided to go.

The Spinning Wheel Diner is located in Lebanon, New Jersey.

Atmosphere: A
The first question you may ask is where is the spinning wheel?

 Is there a spinning wheel?

I imagined a giant Ferris wheel style “spinning wheel” out front but there is a small koi fish pond in the front with a spinning water wheel.  Looking back a diner with a ferris wheel would be called either “The Amusement Park Diner” or “Ferris Wheel Diner”…

The diner itself is a very stereotypical diner.  It is a metallic building.  Inside there are plenty of booths as well as a full bar.

The view outside is hard to beat as well.  The diner is located at the base of a small mountain so there is a nice view of that.

Coffee: A

The waitress added more whipped cream to the coffee than actual coffee.  Since we had just come back from hiking, I needed all of the sugar I could get.  The coffee itself was good, but the extra sugar was definitely a bonus. Spinning Wheel Diner

Service: A
The waitress was extremely friendly.  She got everything we needed and didn’t have any issues.  She was one of the nicest waitresses we’ve had!

Food: B
The food at the Spinning Wheel Diner is that of a typical diner.  The menu isn’t overwhelmingly big, and there are the usual items: omelets, dinner specials, and Greek specialties.  There isn’t anything unique or interesting on the menu but it does have 10 pages worth of menu.

I ordered the Greek Gyro which came with soup and French fries.

Spinning Wheel Diner

The soup was a unique “seafood bisque”.  I couldn’t find much seafood (but lots of corn and potatoes).  It wasn’t bad but needed more seafood.

Spinning Wheel Diner

The Greek Gyro was a good option.  It wasn’t as messy as the Greek Gyro as I had at the Peters Diner in Glouster. There was a bigger pita bread wrap which made it easier to eat.  Overall it was one of the better Greek Gyros I’ve had recently.Spinning Wheel Diner

The French fries were cooked well, but it’s hard to mess fries up.  The Spinning Wheel had good food, but there was nothing unique about it.

Dessert: A

I ordered a root beer float with the meal.  The ice cream was great, and it was refreshing after the hike.  I have no complaints.Spinning Wheel Diner

Cost: $
For my coffee, root beer float, and Greek gyro the cost was $15.  It was definitely a good amount of food for the price.

Overall thoughts/Would I come back?

I liked the Spinning Wheel Diner, and it is one I would go back too at some point.  It’s a great stop along the way.  It’s a typical New Jersey Diner.

Overall:
Atmosphere: A
Coffee: A
Service: A
Food: B
Dessert: A
Cost: $10-15
Overall: B

Question for you:
Have you ever had a root beer float?

Gus’s Diner

A few weeks ago, I decided to try Gus’s Diner in Manalapan.  There aren’t a lot of diners in Central Jersey, and Gus’s is one of the few I haven’t been too.  I arrived for dinner on a weekday, and it wasn’t too crowded.

Atmosphere: B 
Gus’s Diner is modern and clean.  The front door is confusing, and we walked around the entire building before actually figuring out how to get in the restaurant.  After walking over several pieces of construction board, we made it into the diner.

Gus's Diner

The inside is a lot bigger than I imagined.  There weren’t a lot of parties inside so we had plenty of space.

Gus's Diner

Coffee: C
The coffee was average. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t amazing either. I don’t have much to say.  They did give whipped cream in a dish instead directly on top.  For some reason I always find this comical.

Gus's Diner coffee

Food: C
There is virtually any regular option you could want at a diner with an entire page of specials.  If you want a stereotypical diner menu, Gus’s Diner is it.  I ordered the hummus appetizer special which came with pita bread.  

Then I decided to order the broiled scallops special with a sweet potato and broccoli.  It also came with a salad and dessert.  In summary, it was a lot of food.

The hummus appetizer was boring.  I don’t know if it was the way it was plated, but the appetizer was unappetizing and boring.  It looked like they took a container of boxed hummus, placed it on a plate and put a few pieces of pita bread on it.  It was a waste of money. It wasn’t bad, but I would have rather tried something else.  It looked like they didn’t care or try.

Gus's Diner

The scallops were from a frozen container and heated back up.  They didn’t taste bad, but they were also boring.  Same with the broccoli and sweet potato.  I had to request butter for the sweet potato.  Since the scallops were dry, I added butter on those too.  Butter makes everything taste better. Gus's Diner

The special came with pudding, so I chose the bread pudding (my favorite noncake dessert).  It was drenched with honey, but it was good.  I enjoyed the crispy crust too.  Out of the entire meal, the bread pudding was my favorite, but nothing stuck out to me.  Was the food terrible?  No.  Was it edible?  Yes.  Would I seek out the diner based on food?  Probably not.

Gus's Diner

It wasn’t a bad meal but just boring.  It felt like I could have made something similar at home.

Price: $$
For the coffee, scallops, and the appetizer it was $29.  It was pricey, but next time I won’t order the appetizer.

Overall: C
I have a meh feeling about Gus’s.  It’s not a terrible diner, but it’s not a diner I would go out of my way to go too.  If you are looking for a stereotypical New Jersey Diner, Gus’s is it.

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

Questions for you:
Do you ever order off of the specials menu? 

Kenilworth Diner

At the beginning of the month, Danielle, Amelia and I met at the Kenilworth Diner in Kenilworth, New Jersey.  I had read it was one of the better diners in the area so I had high expectations for it!

Atmosphere: D

While the diner looks big from the outside, it’s an awkward layout. We were sat in the corner booth next to the door.  We sat in a room with about 10 tables and it was cramped. Upon leaving and driving away, I noticed there was a whole second section with a bar.  I would have preferred not to sit next to the door when it was 30 degrees out and there were dozens of other booths available.

Coffee: A
The coffee was Lacas brewed from the local Lacas in Pennsauken. It was hot, fresh and delicious. As I’ve mentioned before, Lacas is local and I always enjoy their coffee. The coffee was refilled, often and I have no complaints.

Kenilworth Diner

Service: C
The waitress at the Kenilworth Diner was aggressive and wasn’t overly friendly. I can’t put my finger on it, but it didn’t seem as if she wanted to be there.

Food: C
The Kenilworth diner has a huge menu. They have everything a typical diner would. After the holidays, I decided to finally have a healthy meal order a salad.

Online I read they were good portions and had a lot to them. I ordered the Greek salad with a side of salmon. The salad was small, but there were a few toppings. It was missing a few “typical” Greek salad items like onions, pita bread, and tomatoes but in total it was a decent salad. The salmon portion was huge and took up more space than actual salad.  If it’s an entree salad, it should come with some sort of bread.

Kenilworth Diner

Cost: $$
For my salad, coffee and side of pita it was $22. For the amount of food as well as quality, it wasn’t worth it.

Overall/Would I come back?
It was an okay diner, but not great. There are several in the area that I like much better that I would go too before the Kenilworth. The atmosphere, as well as the waitress, took away from experience as a whole. It was great to see Danielle and Amelia, of course, though.

Summary:
Atmosphere: D
Coffee: A
Service: C
Food: C
Cost: $$
Overall: C

Close by Diners:
Tropicana 
Park Wood 
Westfield

Questions for you:
What is the strangest restaurant layout you’ve been too?