Drive-in movies. Car hops. Rock 'n' roll. Though human nature compels us to view the past in varying shades of gold, the 1950s almost transcends nostalgia. For those who were there, the smallest of triggers can set off waves of fond memories: a ringing bell leads the mind’s eye back to the polished counter of a soda fountain, and an oldies radio station evokes weekends spent passing quarters through the jukebox slot.
On September 11, 2001, in the midst of tragedy and after 19 years as a flight attendant, Brenda Stranberg decided that she was tired of playing back memories of America’s greatest decade in her head. Looking around her at a cultural landscape that her childhood self would hardly recognize, she teamed up with old friend Naif Makol Jr. and founded Skooter’s, an old-fashioned diner and coffee shop inspired by the simple pleasures of life more than half a century ago. Though somewhat of an anachronism, the diner’s open kitchen has proven wildly popular among the various generations that frequent the sit-down counter to sample thick milk shakes, loaded hot dogs, and burgers topped with fried onions. Between bites, guests can toss coins into the antique jukebox or admonish the diner’s soda jerks for callously dousing their friends with fountain drinks.
Serving 100% fresh ground beef and hand-spun milkshakes, Jake's Wayback Burgers keeps the spirit of classic American diner fare on a culinary iron lung. The menu reads like Moby Dick had Moby Dick been written about all-beef patties, marinated chicken sandwiches, veggie burgers, and caesar salad. Golden fries, onion rings and house-made chips wing-man main attractions while hand-dipped ice cream or milkshakes, such as chocolate banana, coffee, and mint, are tasty post-meal temptations. Jake's Wayback Burgers stirs the menu pot with the Burger of the Month and Shake of the Month. Past monthly specials include the Turkey Dinner, a turkey burger topped with secret recipe stuffing, tangy cranberry sauce and a healthy dose of Norman Rockwell nostalgia, and the Thanksgiving-inspired pumpkin-pie shake.
Since 1964, Blimpie has stacked and shuffled Jersey-style subs for on-the-go grabbers. The variety of items on its highly legible menu spans the savory spectrum, with hot, cold, and panini-grilled sandwich selections. Like the slangy biz terminology rappers give to their newest tracks, every made-to-order sandwich is sliced fresh. Wallet watchers can binge on a budget with a variety of $5 footlong subs, and pound pinchers can indulge sans guilt with The Lighter Stuff, the newest menu line from Blimpie, featuring six sandwiches with fewer than 400 calories and 6 grams of fat. Nostalgic noshers can opt for the classic Blimpie Best, piled high with ham, salami, capicola, prosciuttini, folded provolone, veggies, vinegar, oil, and oregano (6", $4.69). To give meal mittens a rest, guests raise their forks high for fresh picks such as the garden salad ($4.49) or the ultimate club salad, a complex arrangement of lettuce, slow-cured ham, oven-roasted turkey, swiss, smoked cheddar, bacon, and rogue tomatoes ($4.99). Other delectable edibles include cups of the day's finest soup ($2.49+) and complete kids’ meals for diners younger than 12 years old ($3.99).
Go ahead and call the staff at Pickle Jar Deli old-fashioned; they'll likely take it as a compliment. These days, when so many things we eat are processed, it's refreshing to find a deli where everything is homemade?including from-scratch soups, flavorful meats, and fresh breads from a local bakery. Customers build their own sandwiches with items such as genoa salami and Krakus ham or opt for a specialty selection, such as The Famous O'Ryan, concocted with homemade chicken salad, lettuce, tomato, cheddar cheese, and bacon. Even the decor is somewhat of a throwback, with a country-cottage-style dining room that matches the homey frame exterior and the welcoming small outdoor patio seating.
The building that now houses The Cracker Barrel Pub has had many incarnations since it was constructed in 1870: post office, cigar factory, lodging house, and gas station, among others. But ever since a bar was added in the early 1930s, the facility has continued to accommodate drink and merriment. These days, bartenders serve up an all-star list of beers, wines, and cocktails such as blueberry cosmopolitans and irish coffees. Those libations complement a menu of traditional and refined pub food ranging from burgers coated in smoked black pepper and barbecue sauce to mac and cheese topped with cheddar-ale sauce.
A minimalist space distinguished by its tables swathed in white linens, Marco's Restaurant joins Italian comfort food with a cozy neighborhood vibe. Marco's gourmet pizzas include chicken-pesto, buffalo-chicken, and Mediterranean pies; the Mediterranean comes loaded with kalamata olives, capers, and imported feta cheese. Plates overflowing with classic pastas?such as spaghetti marinara, fettuccine primavera, and baked lasagna?steam throughout the dining room, followed by desserts of new york cheesecake, lemon cake, or chocolate mousse.