We all love classic old-school diner once in a while. The beloved greasy spoons of New York City — spots with Formica, cheap coffee, and corned beef hash — are on the decline. Rising costs, changing tastes and a reluctant next generation of owners spell trouble for a classic corner of New York's food culture.
But the truth is that these classic iconic places are still up and running with a huge amount of big fans. These ones – on the list below – remain frozen in time places and have stayed oases for people craving old-fashioned food. Even as the neighborhoods around them rapidly change.
Before dinner is served, though, let's watch this video to get into the vibe. It's a lot of fun.
THE GOLDEN OLDIES
Anything is possible in this rock 'n' roll 1950's diner, including love.
WANT MORE? WATCH THE MAKING OF
7 ICONIC NEW YORK CITY DINERS & LUNCH COUNTERS
1 . B & H Dairy | East Village, Manhattan
Walk into B&H Dairy (it stands for "Better Health") and squeeze yourself along the narrow aisle between the tables lining the wall and the stools lining the counter. The small deli restaurant is loud with people, the radio and the clattering of plates and bowls.
With its primary-colored 1950s plastic sign proclaiming “Better Health,” B&H diner is a relic from a time when the East Village was more working class Ukrainian than privileged university undergrads. You should definitely check it out.
2 . Hector's | Meatpacking District, Manhattan
If you wonder which came first, The High Line or Hector's Café you are not alone. This little red box under the parkThe High Line actually preceded the café, but not by very long. Hector's opened in 1949, 15 years after the High Line was built – still during the days when the Meatpacking District was not hyper-trendy and there was an actual train running on the suspended line.
3 . Bel Aire Diner | Astoria, Queens
This true 24-hour Astoria diner has been around for more than 40 years. Bel Aire Diner is that kind of restaurant with a menu like a phone book, doors that are always open, and mints by the register, which is increasingly hard to find in New York.
Bel Aire was named the city's best diner in 2001 and 2005 and still makes its own baked goods in a time when most diners buy them wholesale.
4 . Eisenberg's Sandwich | Flatiron District, Manhattan
Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop is an old-time New York deli with a family feel and simple charm. “Raising New York’s cholesterol since 1929,” Eisenberg’s is known for their egg creams and matzo ball soup, and they serve breakfast all day long.
If you’re looking for a seat, be sure to check out the back area and the counter – the crowd you’re likely to see at the front is mostly people waiting for takeout.
5 . Kellogg's Diner | Williamsburg, Brooklyn
This classic 24-hour diner has been around since 1929 and has survived despite — or perhaps, because of — its location in the heat of Williamsburg's hipsters and condos. Shiny exterior recall that old-school feel inside.Tip: try the Golden Brown Pancakes.
Pancakes, waffles, bagels, omelettes. This place has everything a diner should have. It's cozy in the morning, and they play good music. The coffee is good, and the staff is friendly.
6 . GoodFellas Diner | Maspeth, Queens
This 24-hour, roadside diner that opened in the early '60s used to be called Clinton Diner, but after being used in Martin Scorsese's "Goodfellas" in an iconic scene between Robert De Niro and Ray Liotta, they eventually renamed it to GoodFellas Diner. (Watch the scene below)
But besides the name change — and a menu sheet with a long list of other films and TV shows shot there — the core of the restaurant remains a classic diner.
7 . PEARL DINER | FINANCIAL DISTRICT MANHATTAN
Pearl Diner's big neon sign stands out in the sea of skyscrapers in Financial District, with the word "DINER" lighting up the street at night. It closed for a bit after Superstorm Sandy, briefly worrying fans of the spot but, ultimately, the stand-alone spot opened in the '60s and still maintains the look of it inside.
Despite a well-worn interior, the kitchen puts out hearty, cheap entree plates like turkey meatloaf, gravy-soaked turkey, and a sturdy patty melt — all under $10. Pearl also played host to a pouty, beat-up Robert Pattinson in the 2010 film Remember Me.