Sunday, December 28, 2008

Great Classic NJ Diners

In my previous job/life, before I had Snookums, I used to travel all over the world. I ate squab in Egypt, fried caterpillars in Mexico, and freshly slaughtered pig (yes, it had been screaming moments before) in Borneo.

Nowadays, if I can spend the weekend discovering some great diner, I'm happy as a clam. Fortunately, New Jersey is famous for its old diners. Here are three of my favorites -- two discovered just this weekend!

1) The White Mana Diner, corner of Tonnelle Ave. and Manhattan Ave., Jersey City.

Launched at the 1939 World's Fair (and it looks every bit its age), the White Mana features a circular layout rather than the typical rectangular, railroad-car design of most diners. Kinda run down and dingy -- both inside and outside -- but the White Castle-style hamburgers are great. And cheap.

2) Summit Diner, 1 Union Place (corner of Summit Ave.), Summit.

This tiny spot (only eight booths and 20 stools) is the place to be in Summit on a Saturday morning. You'll have to wait for your table, but you can amuse yourself eavesdropping on the regulars. Service is, shall we say, indifferent, but the prices can't be beat. Afterwards, you can walk off the food by strolling around Summit's Fifties-style downtown, which even features -- gasp! -- a movie theater.

3) Bendix Diner, 464 Rt. 17, Hasbrouck Heights.

I just went to this place today for the first time and can't believe I didn't know about it. It's a classic American roadside diner that's been featured in umpteen TV commercials and the odd bad movie (Jersey Girl). Built in 1947, it's also in much better shape than Summit or White Mana -- and is sparkling clean, too (even the bathrooms). The service is also a lot better. And while it's not dirt cheap like the other two, you won't go broke eating here either -- I'm still full from the Reuben and fries I chowed down eight hours ago.

Special bonus: The White Mana and the Summit diners are accessible by public transportation.


Joseph LeMay said...

I think the Bendix diner might be where they filmed the Bounty paper towell commercials with Rosie the Waitress. My personal favorite is Willie's Diner in Bloomfield. I remember the hostess there had inch long finger nails and a ton of makeup. She made anyone you might see on The Sopranos look normal.

Goody 2 Shoes said...
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Salli Vates said...

Is that the same Bendix Diner that used to be in Chelsea?

Joan Novark said...

This Bendix has been there since the 40s, so I suspect that the Bendix in Chelsea was named in its homage.