This is more of a ‘watch this space’, evolving article than a fixed one and we’ll add/change it as we go along!
Readers might like to make their own recommendations to us on any genre of eatery or bar/pub, which would be very welcome! Bear in mind that our sphere of travel in the next couple of years is likely to be limited to North America and Europe, though we’d like to go to Japan at some point and maybe Australia/New Zealand one day. So if a blogger writes, “you should try my local deli round the corner from me in Papua New Guinea” then I don’t know that we’d get around to it.
Anyway, here is our take on best diners and ‘greasy spoons’…
Best diner (North America)
Star choice: Moonlite Diner, Fort Lauderdale – we’ve only eaten here once, seeing as we live in New York but it was stellar in every way! The look of it, the ambience and our food was superb (“bostin”, as we’d say back in my home town in England). The fish and chips were perfect. Now, with a lot of diners you don’t want to pick fried fish, especially any mysterious fish sandwich on a menu that no one has ordered since 2015, and that ends up tasting like lego. Here the fish was as good as Prince Edward Island, or I imagine Martha’s Vineyard. We hope the Moonlite is just as good when we go back!
New York diners
That’s what we’re best qualified to comment on next. There are a lot of very good ones. Sometimes they can be pretty down-to-earth of course, and maybe you want to wipe the slightly greasy menu (especially right now, during covid) but we love diners. The only thing I will say is that often the meals are just…too much. You’ll probably have leftovers for a week and it can be best to choose something that will keep and re-heat well. I’m sure there are customers who can take down those giant platters in one sitting, but not us!
Here are some diners that are quality and mean a lot to us:
Northshore Diner, Bayside (Queens) – the food is always good, and can be very good depending on what you order. Friendly, and a nostalgic place for Marie. She had her post-Prom night here. Again, I don’t know what to order anymore though because the portions are overwhelming. I might go for just fruit pancakes and bacon next time. I enjoy the liver and onions (yes, sorry!) but may take a break from that next time. Their cheesecake is the iconic slab topped with fruit, and very enjoyable. I’d be changing my name to Buster Button if we go to diners like Northshore too often but we’re very fond of it.
57s, Bayside (Queens) – not a typical diner at all, it appeals to younger people (well, teens to retirees but you’ll likely find a lot of younger tables here). Again it’s one that means a lot to us and we’ve been many times. The breakfast is quality, especially their sausages, as are the burgers and shakes. It’s fun 1950s themed, a-la ‘Happy Days’. Very friendly.
There are other diners in New York we like a lot. Mineola Diner is the classic chrome shack style. And we aim to try many more.
The best full Irish breakfast we’ve had at any diner here is actually from a Greek source, from Omega Diner/Coffee Shop.
Best ‘Greasy Spoon’ café, Britain
Star choice: Pellicci’s, Bethnal Green in London.
Now, again we’ve only been once so how can I make such a claim?! Well, it was fantastic and I’m sure we’ll go back. Historic traditions and enthusiasm from staff run high, it’s a chatty and friendly London-Italian family run place, and the son gave us some of his mom’s (his mom being the cook of course) bread pudding free to take with us! The full-English was spot on.
Time-Out London’s award winner 2018, it’s everything you could want!
(photo below from google images though there are much better from galleries on their site and on their instagram)
There are many, many wonderful ‘greasy spoon’ cafes in the UK. Traditionally they provide an ideal place to provide protein fuel for the average working man though now that’s probably equally true for everyone whether that be a ‘whistle and flute’ (suit/suited gent) heading to the attorney office for that day, or high-powered female executives or a group of school kids.
A staple of such cafes is a full English (or Scottish/Irish/Welsh) breakfast, comprising of some or all of the following: sausages, bacon rashers, beans (essential to bring it all together), fried tomatoes, fried eggs, toast, fried bread, mushrooms (ideally portabello), black pudding, white pudding, maybe haggis…am I forgetting anything? You won’t need to eat again until the evening.
Also, in my hometown of Birmingham Cherry Reds does a great full-English and is in a lively, modern but characterful bar.
As reported to us by my nephew, Jake, there’s also a semi legendary café in the indoor markets by the Bull Ring in Birmingham, in which they cheaply supply six rashers of bacon and six sausages and six eggs and all the trimmings on one plate and the staff look crestfallen if you don’t eat it all!!! We hope it’s still there!