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Authentic 'USA' Diner (as opposed to a New York Diner)

Maidstone, United...
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Authentic 'USA' Diner (as opposed to a New York Diner)

A question that has been asked many times but without adding any definition.

We like to think of ourselves as 'travelers' rather than tourists as we prefer to blend in with the local culture as much as possible to gain the best experieince.

We will be making our first ever visit to the USA as a whole and our imagined picture of an American Diner would be something similar to 'Happy Days' or a converted railroad car. We would also prefer to go somewhere where we would be unlikely to see hordes of tourists, getting a contrived 'experience'.

I understand that Happy Days is set many years ago and such places may not exist anymore (unless contrived) and would be happy to visit a diner that is simply frequented by local New Yorkers 'in the know'. I am particularly referring to breakfast.

We will be staying at the Grand Hyatt, but would be happy to travel further afield.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

Vancouver
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1. Re: Authentic 'USA' Diner (as opposed to a New York Diner)

There are so many diners in New York that are good and not touristy at all. Most New Yorkers go to a local neighborhood diner and are unlikely to travel a long way for breakfast. To find an authentic diner in NY, stay away from Times Square. If in midtown, go east to 1st, 2nd, or 3rd avenue and choose any place that looks good. There are also lots of good diners on the upper east side. If you have a car and want an authentic 1950's diner experience (in a shiny metal detached building with the railroad car look) go to the Tick-Tock diner in New Jersey on Rte 3.

london
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2. Re: Authentic 'USA' Diner (as opposed to a New York Diner)

Hi, the Cheyenne Diner 411 9th avenue at 33rd street might be the kind of thing you're looking for

Sunderland, United...
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3. Re: Authentic 'USA' Diner (as opposed to a New York Diner)

The Cheyenne is no longer open. I actually like Big Daddys on Park Ave between 19th and 20th (http://www.bigdaddysnyc.com/site/index.html)

Copenhagen
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4. Re: Authentic 'USA' Diner (as opposed to a New York Diner)

The diner on the corner of Church and Leonard is the best.

Tina.

New York City, New...
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5. Re: Authentic 'USA' Diner (as opposed to a New York Diner)

The only shiny metal diners that looks like a converted railroad car left in Manhattan are the Empire Diner and the Market Diner. While you'll see locals in both, you're more likely to see them late at night than in the am and the Empire is more trendy than "authentic."

The Airline Diner in Queens, now part of the Jackson Hole barnd is probably closest to the quintessential diner you want but not easily reached by subway. You'd need to take a subway to Queens and then a bus. It's near La Guardia airport. This place was used in the movie Goodfellas and also in an episode of Seinfeld I think.

forgotten-ny.com/STREET%20SCENES/…diners.html

What you should also realize is that the NYC "coffee shop" is the urban version of the diner and there are loads of those all over Manhattan.

PlanetX
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6. Re: Authentic 'USA' Diner (as opposed to a New York Diner)

I love diners and breakfast food and was so happy to see your post. Whenever I travel within the US, I try to find locals-favorites diners for breakfast.

The food tends to be dependably good (though greasy and not particularly diet-friendly). Across the states I've visited, diner food is similar, but with local variations. Anywhere down south, you sit down and someone brings you a biscuit (not a cookie, but a southern biscuit). I exaggerate, but that's the feeling I had after a few weeks in Tennessee--and the biscuits you find down South are unlike anything you find anywhere else.

Here in Boston where I live, there are lots of diners, including some of the metal railroad car variety,and many have Irish breakfasts, reflecting the heritage of their owners. Last I was in Detroit, I stopped at a Greek-owned diner. Amazing breakfast/lunch menu with lots of Greek specialties on the menu. In Gettysburg, MD, there's a place called the Lincoln Diner. Amazing. Across from Ford's Theatre in DC, there's a hole-in-the wall diner...I don't know the exact history of this place, but years ago, you'd be greeted by Southerners...today it's owned by Asians. The funny thing is that the food is pretty much the same--delicious.

Sorry to digress, but these places are fantastic. I've been blessed with the opportunity to travel around the US and it's something I always look for. The website www.yelp.com has lots of locals' opinions about restaurants.

Diners in Manhattan are great. The food is usually comparable to what you'd find in the railroad-car variety. It's funny that someone mentioned the Tick Tock in New Jersey--I was trying to remember the name of that fantastic diner! They have desserts that are amazing.

If you're really curious, there's a tv show on the Food network here called "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" that might interest you.

Cheers!

PlanetX
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7. Re: Authentic 'USA' Diner (as opposed to a New York Diner)

....one caution...and someone else mentioned it... watch out for "trendy." You can't really tell a "real" diner by looking for the rail car. Look for a stream of "regular" people coming and going. The more hard hats the better. If they have a 3.95 early-bird special scrawled on a whiteboard and a frazzled looking waitstaff, that's the place you want.

If they've got ten varieties of green tea and an espresso machine, watch out. ;)

Maryland
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8. Re: Authentic 'USA' Diner (as opposed to a New York Diner)

" In Gettysburg, MD, there's a place called the Lincoln Diner. Amazing. Across from Ford's Theatre in DC, there's a hole-in-the wall diner...I don't know the exact history of this place, but years ago, you'd be greeted by Southerners...today it's owned by Asians. The funny thing is that the food is pretty much the same--delicious. "

That would be Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. :)

And the Waffle House across from Fords Theater in Washington has been closed for a couple years now, it literally IS a "whole in the wall now" :)

Maidstone, United...
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9. Re: Authentic 'USA' Diner (as opposed to a New York Diner)

Thanks for all the great comments, especially from Queenslace who appears to understand exactly where I'm coming from.

With so many good diners the easiest thing to do seems to be to make a list of what to avoid!

I agree with the comment that anywhere that is busy with a queue of local people is what to look out for. We have adopted this priciple everywhere we travel and one (of many examples) was when we were in Hong Kong. We went into a restaurant in the Chinese area that had a huge queue outside. There was no English menu and nobody except 'the mama' spoke English (and hers was very limited). She could just about convey to us that we were 'very unusual' because we came into her restauarant and therefore she was going to cook something special for us. We never found out what it was but it was delicious.

Another time, in Rome, we found a place that had no sign, no menue and no English speakers. We sat down and were simply served whatever they were cooking at the time and observed the local etiquette around us.

In both of these examples we were made to feel really welcome, I assume because we were so laid back and accepting. (Both meals were exceptional and the bills incredibly inexpensive).

New Orleans...
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10. Re: Authentic 'USA' Diner (as opposed to a New York Diner)

"Thanks for all the great comments, especially from Queenslace who appears to understand exactly where I'm coming from."

Queenslace is also talking about Boston, where the sort of diner you're looking for is much more prevalent. I'm not sure where people get this idea that NYC is a hotbed of classic diners, but it is not.