Monday, March 02, 2009

World Tour of Local Diners

Every few weeks, my Mom and I go out to eat on Sunday afternoon. And because by noon on Sunday she's ready for lunch but I'm usually ready for breakfast, we go to a lot of diners (breakfast all day! Yay!). How to tell if it's a diner and not a restaurant: It has a counter with stools, in addition to table seating. You have to pay at the cashier's stand, not pay your waitress. Oh yeah, and they've gotta serve breakfast all day. A few that we've visited so far:

1. Parkway Diner. Also known as Brothers Diner; also known as Friends Diner. This place evidently changes hands quite a bit. This is probably our favorite. Eggs Benedict is one of the specials quite often, and it is here that I discovered the Monte Cristo sandwich. (Oh! Monte Cristo, I love you!) Service is fast; soda (and coffee, of course) refills are free, and prices are reasonable. We go here a lot.

2. Pete's Legacy Diner. Home of the absolutely fantastic-looking desserts - they've got the best display case in town. One of these days we're going to have to go and have dessert for lunch, because those high-rise meringue pies look really, really good. Good service, good prices - this place is always packed. Our second-favorite.

3. Take-a-Break - This is right next to Pete's. Duelling diners! Prices are good, but they were a little skimpy with the pastrami on my Reuben. For shame! Still, service was good and the place is clean, and they give free soda refills.

4. The Spot - This place is popular, but I'm not really sure why. It's huge and extremely noisy, and the service was just so-so, and the prices were on the high side for a diner.

5. The Skylark - Jeez, I remember going here with my friends after parties when I was a teenager. Service is kind of hit-or-miss and the booths are kind of cramped, but the food's pretty good. Plus, there's that nostalgia factor.

6. Red Robin - This is a local landmark. I'm not really sure why; we went at a usually busy time (Sunday-after-church time), and the place was deserted, they were out of the first thing I ordered, service was crappy, and the prices weren't great. Scratch this one off the list.

7. Park Diner - Another local landmark. Service was super-fast, the food was good, and the view (it's right on the river) was spectacular, but the prices were high. I guess you're paying for the view. Oh, and I did see my state Senator while we were there. Maybe that's included in the price.

8. Plaza Diner - This is a new one, located in a former Hooters restaurant. It's extremely popular (I snagged the last parking space in the large lot), but there wasn't much of a wait for a table. It's not a true diner, because there's no counter-with-stools, but the prices and the food are good. Soda refills are free. The tables/booths are kind of scrunched together, and it was pretty loud, so it's not really a place to go if you want to hang out and relax. Still, the pancake sandwich is worth coming back for.

9. Blue Dolphin - Pricey, and they stop serving breakfast at 12:30 on Sunday (boo! Hissssss!).
We probably won't go back.

So! That's where we've been so far. This area is pretty diner-heavy, so we've got a bunch to try out before we have to start driving very far. And right now I'm slavering over the thought of a pancake sandwich, or Eggs Benedict, or a Monte Cristo .............


Bridgett said...

I went to the Metro 20 this weekend, or what Kid calls "The Shiny Diner" (chrome exterior). Clean, quick service, reasonably priced food. My only complaint is that my bacon omelette had no cheese in it, which made it a lot like scrambled eggs with bacon in them. Hard to complain about bacon, though.

Other diners in this area are markedly less good, with the exception of the Alexis out on Rt. 4. The Gateway Diner on Central (come to think of it, all the diners on Central close to downtown) are especially ratty. Tollgate is a place to go get ice cream, not to eat.

kitkat said...

Okay, I've been to 4 of those. Take a Break, the second "Parkway Diner" (I think it's called something else, but we call it the "old Hooters place"), Blue Dolphin, and Skylark.

Take a Break was nice and quiet but they skimped on bacon in my BLT.

The old Hooters place had an almost strangely varied menu, but was good. We were the youngest people in there by about 40 years :)

The Blue Dolphin is very so-so, but it's close to home.

Skylark was busy, greasy, but decent.

I want to go to Pete's and the Parkway Diner before I leave. Strangely enough, Owego doesn't have much in the way of diners, even though it seems like a prime location for them.

kitkat said...

The Plaza Diner! That's what the old Hooter's place is called. I just went past there today.

rockygrace said...

Bridgett, sounds like there's a dearth of quality diners in your area!

And KitKat, you're right - it's the Plaza that's in the old Hooters. I stand corrected.

Have you ever been to that little restaurant out on 96 (or is it 96B?) across from Iron Kettle Farm? I've driven past that place a million times and always wondered if the food was any good.

In the summer, I always stop at the Hi-Way dairy bar for a soft serve strawberry/raspberry swirl.

Now I'm hungry ........

Exador said...

I can't believe you put the Skylark 5th!

The Park Diner also has the benefit of watching people drown in the river right outside your window.

kitkat said...

Still haven't made it to the Hi-Way, but I will hopefully before I move. I know the other place you mean by Iron Kettle Farms, but I haven't been there either. There's a place up on 38 past Newark Valley but I'm not exactly sure any rate, we stopped in there once, but they were closing up (at around 7:00 I think!). I've wanted to go back there sometime too. Oh yeah, and I need to go to Chat a wyle many restaurants, so little time!

rockygrace said...

Ex, the diners were listed in no particular order, so please don't feel slighted by the Skylark coming in at #5.

As far as I know, nobody's drowned outside the Park since those firemen all those years ago. A local drug dealer drowned after jumping off one of the bridges trying to evade the cops a few months ago, but I'm pretty sure he bit it in the Chenango, not the Susquehanna. On the non-grim side, one of my sisters was at the Park a while back when a bald eagle cruised by her window.

And KitKat, you really need to do the Hi-Way before you go - that place has been there since I was a kid (i.e., forever)!

listie said...

Ok, here's my list:
1. Parkway. My mom's second favorite diner. We've been there for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
2. Pete's. Currently my Mom's favorite diner. Do they have a counter? I can't remember.
3. Take-a-Break. I've never been there. Isn't it flooded out practically every year, or is that Pete's, or both?
4. I haven't been to the Spot in a million years. I'm not even sure I remember where it is.
5. The Skylark. I haven't been there in ages, either. We didn't hang out there in high school. Where did we hang out? Hmmm. That's too far back to remember.
6. Red Robin? I don't know that one at all.
7. Park Diner. Ditto.
8. Plaza. There was a Hooters? Where? (Guessing from the name of the diner, in some plaza.)
9. Blue Dolphin. I went there once last year with the family. Totally unimpressed.

I've wondered about that one on
96B, too, but haven't wanted to drag my mother that far only to find out it's horrible.

Here in CollegeTown we have only one diner, that I know of, and it's really a dive.

rockygrace said...

You know, I'm pretty sure Pete's has a counter, but not absolutely positive, now that I think about it.

And yeah, Take-a-Break took on about ten feet of water back in the flood of 06. It just re-opened not long ago. Pete's was built after those floods, so it hasn't had a chance to get wet yet.

The Hooters was on the north side of the Parkway, in that stretch in between the Olum's plaza and Jensen Road. I'm not sure why they call it the "Plaza" Diner, since it's a free-standing building.

And there's only one diner in CollegeTown? That's surprising. Where do all the kids go to eat after a hard night of drinking? :)