239 Park Ave South between 19th and 20th Sts (212-477-1500). Subway: 6 to 23rd St. Noon--midnight. Average main course: $11.
The beauty of dining in a diner is that you usually don’t have to wait for a table, and your grub typically arrives within moments of ordering it. Big Daddy’s has all the requisites of a hokey greasy spoon: A bright neon sign hangs atop the entrance; faux-retro Formica tables and comfy booths line the room; and a staff clad in pink who’s your daddy T-shirts are eager to take your order. But it hasn’t quite figured out the pacing in the kitchen yet: We had to wait 35 minutes for a BLT and poached eggs on a recent Friday night—with nary an apology. It’s a good thing substance trumped service: The eggs were poached to the right point, with just-runny yolks, and the BLT was extra generous with the bacon, giving us thick and crisp slabs. The blue-plate specials are the best way to go: You’ll find yourself up to your elbows in heaps of crisp fries, fat grilled sandwiches and pancakes so big they hang over the side of the plate (breakfast is available anytime). Plus, Big Daddy serves some of the best fried chicken in the five boroughs. It’s all delicious stuff, but—depending on how hungry you are—it may not be worth the wait. Still, we had no problem getting a drink: Big Daddy’s has a full bar.—TONY