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Photograph: Courtesy Marconi Jose Gonzalez

The 22 best diners in NYC

Find where old New York meets new New York with our list of NYC’s best diners

Written by
Dan Q Dao
&
Rachel Pelz
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Whether it's late at night, lunchtime or when you’re trying to cure a hangover—NYC’s best diners will always be here for you. While New York certainly has fancier restaurants, these low-key, come-as-you-are spots will always have a place in New Yorkers' hearts. Some diners, with traditional menus including burgers, ice cream, endless coffee and donuts, even made our list of the best restaurants in NYC. With their long history in NYC pop culture, you’ll feel like the main character in your own sitcom when you slide into one of their slightly sticky booths.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in NYC

Best diners in NYC

  • Restaurants
  • Diners
  • West Village
  • price 2 of 4

This all-hours establishment is a stubborn holdout if the old-school Village—after all, the West Village now ranks among NYC’s priciest ’hoods. Whether you’re up early before work or coming in after a night spent clubbing, the highlight of the menu remains the tried-and-true eggs, cooked to your liking and served right on the skillet.

  • Restaurants
  • Eating

After seventy years on the UWS, Old John’s was forced to shutter its doors during the pandemic. Louis Skibar, a former employee with a penchant for reviving diners, has reopened its doors with an updated menu and most of the Old John’s team. They’re serving up the classics (burgers, meatloaf, chicken soup) and pairing them with a decidedly un-diner-like cocktail menu. Order a chicken club and an aquafaba gimlet for a high-low diner experience.

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  • Restaurants
  • Diners
  • East Village
  • price 1 of 4

First opened in 1938, this kosher dairy lunch counter is now owned by married couple Ola and Fawzy Abdelwahed (a Polish Catholic and an Egyptian Muslim, respectively.) They’re still serving up some original menu items, including blintzes, matzo balls and challah, for the locals that crowd the counter for a taste of old New York. 

  • Restaurants
  • Diners
  • Prospect Heights
  • price 1 of 4

A Brooklyn institution since the 1930s, Tom’s staying power can be attributed to several factors, one of which is the free coffee and bites passed out to the long line of folks waiting to be seated. Flapjacks are served here in a sweet-corn-studded, whole-wheat variety as well as a lemon-ricotta version, which you can wash down with some of the best egg creams in town.

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  • Restaurants
  • Diners
  • Astoria
  • price 1 of 4

The king of Queens diners is this stainless-steel Art Deco beauty. Owned by the Dellaportas family—the patriarch, Archie, first acquired the diner after immigrating to New York in 1972—the restaurant is now a legend in the borough. They’re currently serving up their gigantic menu alongside a temporary outdoor theater, which hosts drive-in movie nights, drag shows, and more.

  • Restaurants
  • Diners
  • New Jersey
  • price 1 of 4

This burger-centric Jersey City icon and its sister Hackensack outpost, White Manna, were both opened by Louis Bridges, who bought the original diner at the 1939 New York World’s Fair.  Mana’s distinctive octagonal building—with the cook in the middle of the room—was even named a local landmark. Now, seven decades later, the around-the-clock restaurants are still known for their griddle-seared patties cloaked in molten cheese and crowned with steamed onions.

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  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary European
  • East Village
  • price 1 of 4

This family-run spot has been holding it down for what's left of the East Village's Ukrainian past since 1954. Serving the neighborhood with the most bars in NYC, Veselka (Ukrainian for "rainbow") offers both solid American diner standards like eggs and pancakes as well as Eastern European fare like pierogi, cheese blintzes, borscht and potato pancakes.

  • Restaurants
  • Diners
  • Williamsburg
  • price 1 of 4

For over 40 years, Williamsburg’s 24-hour standby has been known for a highly varied clientele, depending on the time of day and day of week. Not to miss on the veritable tome of a menu is a house burger—amped up with bacon, mushrooms, Swiss cheese, and sautéed onions—and one of the house confections (cheesecake, tiramisu) displayed proudly in a rotating case.

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  • Restaurants
  • Vegan
  • Williamsburg

Yeah, it’s vegan, but hear us out—Champs has some of the best tots in Brooklyn. It’s a diner with a scene, as partiers pour in to soak up their hangovers with jalapeño poppers and cookie dough pancakes. Their dairy-free shakes are topped with whipped “cream” and sized to share, so you can bring your vegan date before (or, um, after) a night out in Williamsburg.

  • Restaurants
  • American
  • Greenwich Village
  • price 2 of 4

Established in 1972, this diner touts its titular offering of burgers with the slogan: “36 Ways to Serve Burgers.” A hop-skip from NYU’s sprawling Greenwich Village campus, find undergrads and village locals scarfing down those patties—including innovative takes like the Santorini Burger (sauteed spinach, feta cheese) and the Pizza Burger (pizza sauce, melted mozzarella)—washed down with endless refills of coffee.

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