Issue 30 | March 2023
New Jersey license plates may read the “Garden State” but they could just as easily read “The Diner State.” New Jersey is packed with the best diners in the US and we are proud to call Hudson County home to many of them. From vintage, stainless-steel diners serving classic American fare at affordable prices to more modern diners offering elevated and fusion fare, Hudson County is home to the best diners in the country and here are some of our favorites.
470 Tonnele Ave, Jersey City, NJ 07307
Known as “The Original,” Jersey City’s White Mana Diner has been cranking out burgers and fries since the Great Depression era. While the restaurant didn’t officially open its doors until 1946, White Mana actually got its start as a pavilion at the 1939 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadow, Queens, where it was referred to as “the diner of the future.” Well, the future is here and the then-futuristic diner is now a charming throwback to diners of the past. While you’ll find a collection of typical diner fare like onion rings and chicken sandwiches, White Mana is best known for its small and affordable cheeseburgers, which are only $1.70 each! The burgers are slightly bigger than sliders and go great with the diner’s disco fries, hot and salty fries that have been slathered in cheese sauce and gravy. White Mana produces thousands of hand-patted burgers each week, many of them these classic small cheeseburgers, and they always use fresh – never frozen – ground beef.
Miss America Diner
322 West Side Ave, Jersey City, NJ 07305
The Miss America Diner describes itself as an “old-fashioned diner with home style cooking” and we couldn’t agree more. From its stainless-steel exterior and large block-letter sign to its red leather booths and round counter stools, Miss America simply screams old-fashioned diner. And not only is the ambiance amazing and the food fabulous, but the prices are affordable and the portions are generous. You’ll leave breakfast feeling full and satisfied, with enough money in your wallet should you want to come back for dinner. The menu is simple and straightforward, just like an old-fashioned diner, full of favorites like pancakes and eggs, pastrami sandwiches, and chicken pot pie. It’s a family-friendly restaurant with fantastic food, great service, and a warm and welcoming vibe.
500 Passaic Avenue, East Newark, NJ 07029
Tops Diner is not just a longstanding diner in East Newark, New Jersey, but it’s a full-fledged diner institution across the entire state. Established in 1942, Tops Diner is a family-run business that consistently ranks as one of the best diners in the country, and with good reason. Time Out appropriately called it a “statewide legend,” singling out the Eggs Benedict and the meatloaf with mushroom gravy, two staples that remain favorites among the regulars.
Classic diner fare like the famous meatloaf is rounded out with unexpected items like jambalaya, tempura chicken with broccoli, and shrimp tacos. Tops further differentiates itself from most diners by serving more artfully prepared – dare we say elevated – diner food and they’re keeping up with dining trends by offering a larger-than-normal selection of vegetarian and vegan options.
The restaurant underwent an $11 million renovation in 2021, tripling its space to an impressive 15,000 square feet. The new design has an upscale, modern diner vibe and the enormous restaurant also has a full bar that serves everything from beer and wine to cocktails and boozy frozen drinks.
1075 Broadway, Bayonne, NJ 07002
For classic American eats and diner desserts any time of day, grab a seat at Bayonne’s Broadway Diner. The restaurant is open 24/7 and is known for its weekday breakfast specials – pancakes, omelets, French toast, and eggs with home fries – that only cost about $10. The diner claims to serve the world’s best pancakes but considering the menu is an astounding 11 pages long, you have far more than just pancakes to choose from. You’re pretty much guaranteed to find something you like, be it matzoh ball soup, sloppy joes, a turkey and bacon club sandwich, or a stuffed seafood combo platter. If the classic American ambiance couldn’t get any better, sandwiches, burgers, and fries are served up on adorable red and white checkered liners, which give the place an even stronger diner vibe.
Coach House Diner
921 John F. Kennedy Blvd, North Bergen, NJ 07047
The welcome sign at the Coach House Diner pretty much says it all: “Good food and plenty of it since 1939.” Over 80 years ago, a young Greek immigrant opened this North Bergen gem and when it was in need of a renovation and expansion, his children turned the aging stainless steel diner into the much larger Coach House you see today. With over 100 parking spots and dining rooms that can accommodate nearly 300 guests, this diner is the perfect pick for large groups who need more space but who still appreciate a cozy diner atmosphere. Late night eaters, take note, as the Coach House offers take-out 24/7 and the dining room is also open 24 hours a day from Thursday through Sunday. While regulars will tell you that you can’t go wrong no matter what you order, two top picks are the buttermilk cheesecake pancakes with fresh strawberries and whipped cream and the Popeye burger, which comes topped with sautéed spinach, mushrooms, onions, and Swiss cheese.
Carnegie Diner & Cafe
700 Plaza Dr, Secaucus, NJ 07094
No more needing to brave the crowds of Midtown Manhattan to enjoy a great meal at Carnegie Diner & Cafe, as this iconic restaurant recently opened a branch in our very own Secaucus. The diner was voted as one of the best diners in 2022 on OpenTable, thanks in part to the priority it places on high-quality ingredients like organic meat and organic, locally-produced eggs. Expect to find fancier versions of traditional diner fare, like lobster mac and cheese and salted caramel waffles with brown sugar-roasted walnut crumble. There’s also standard staples like buttermilk pancakes and eggs with hash browns if that’s more your jam. Breakfast and brunch are served all day long and if you want to turn brunch into a party, opt for the unlimited mimosa option and thank us later. And don’t forget to leave room for this 24-layer chocolate cake!
130 County Ave, Secaucus, NJ 07094
Grab a seat at the counter or sink into one of the roomy booths at the legendary Legends Diner and get ready for a great meal. This Secaucus staple is known for big breakfasts, delicious dinners, and an extensive menu with everything from French toast and eggs Benedict to corned beef Reubens and meatloaf. There are dozens of dishes to choose from so it’s a great option for picky eaters or large groups with diverse tastes. While we can’t really imagine tiring of traditional diner fare, should you be in the mood for something less traditional, there’s teriyaki chicken, a Greek chicken wrap, seafood Alfredo, and even fried fish and chips.