Neon signs. Ceramic mugs. A heaping portion of American nostalgia. Here’s to the timeless New York dining tradition and all-hours savior of hunger.
1 Empire Diner
The crown jewel of Chelsea's old-school chow scene. Amanda Freitag channels her inner German harmonized with classic American in the recent revival of this iconic New York diner staple, revamping the space and menu basics from drab to fab. Fifty shades of gray, black, and white set the Art Deco stage for a whirlwind of comfort food two-point-oh in a retro time capsule. Look forward to Freitag's pancetta-sprinkled bone-in pork chop, trout almondine, a deconstructed lox and burrata, and the obligatory breakfast-for-dinner that we hold so near and dear to our diner loving hearts. Let's also take a moment to pay homage to the grown-up split kicked up a notch with caramelized bananas. Das ist gut.
210 Tenth Avenue between 22nd and 23rd Streets
2 Brooklyn Diner
The diner so nice, they built it twice. And not in Brooklyn. Brooklyn Diner's Midtown West and Theater District outposts are flanked by iconic NYC landmarks and loved by all, due in part to the critically acclaimed burger and swanked-up traditional menu staples. Celebs, tourists, and borough denizens flock to both locations for the quintessential white napkin diner experience. After all, it's not every day one is presented with the opportunity to enjoy a 15 inch hot dog with Paul McCartney at the next table over.
212 West 57th Street between Seventh Avenue and Broadway/155 West 43rd Street between Sixth Avenue and Broadway
3 Café Edison
Big Apple favorites reign supreme on this classic New York dining institution's menu, featuring tried-and-true recipes that have pleased the palates of Broadway big shots and loyal locals in Hotel Edison's former ballroom space since 1980. Endearingly renamed by patrons as the Polish Tea Room in honor of its pillared opulence, Café Edison's sharply suited wait staff serve up American diner classics along with Eastern European and soulful Jewish fare at "timelessly affordable prices." Come here for breakfast all day with a 1930s view.
228 West 47th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues
4 Lexington Candy Shop
This old gal's been going strong since 1925, passed down among three generations and persevering though decade after decade to become one of New York's last luncheonettes standing. Peruse the Coca Cola trinketry and vintage kitchenware collected over the years, proudly displayed for the viewing pleasure of nostalgia-seeking diners. Tradition is kept across the board, with bread hand-baked just blocks away at Orwasher's and shakes spun with Bassett's Super Premium (creamin' since 1861, so it's bound to be good).
1226 Lexington Avenue at 83rd Street
5 The Diner
Those late nights in the champagne shower capital of Manhattan have finally met their match in the form of a comfort food-slinging Meatpacking respite. The after-hours menu boasts snappy classics like disco fries and a juicy bacon cheeseburger along with not-so-standard dishes including blackened codfish with corn and black bean succotash as well as a wild mushroom ravioli in a sage butter sauce. Shakes and malts are on hand to wash down the vodka of yesternight. The burgundy, black, and cream enamel interior palette isn't hard on the eyes either.
44 Ninth Avenue at West 14th Street