New York Diners
Great Greasy Spoons

For 74 years, the Moondance Diner was a stomping ground for SoHo residents both real and fictional. The Sex and the City girls often stopped by for brunch, and Friends’ Monica and real-life RENT composer Jonathan Larson both worked there waiting tables. But a high profile couldn’t save the diner from being forced out by condo development in 2007. A couple purchased the structure and moved it to Wyoming, but their plan fizzled and the diner closed again in 2012. It seems taking a diner out of New York is as futile as trying to take the New York out of the city’s diners.
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East Village: Potato Pancakes and Pierogi

What this established hole-in-the-wall eatery lacks in space, it makes up for with Eastern European comfort food made fast and fresh. Punks and suits perch side-by-side atop stools as grill stewards Chester and Roman fry up homemade corned beef hash or piping hot pierogi smothered with golden fried onions.

Greenwich Village: Late-Night Frites

Forget ketchup—these Belgian-style fries come with a choice of gourmet sauces such as garlic aioli or mango chutney mayo. Not a dipper? Try the fresh-made masala fries instead, which owe their spiciness to a dusting of three curry powders. The fryers stay hot till 4 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Brooklyn: Deep-Fried Deviled Eggs

Southern comfort food is the focus of this shabby-chic diner, which serves up homemade tater tots, pulled pork hash, and platters of fried chicken till midnight every day. Deep-fried sides and snacks include creamy-crunchy deviled eggs, made all the more sinful with a dollop of chipotle mayo.

Prospect Heights: Worthwhile Wait for Brunch

Long lines are the bane of most brunchers. But not at Tom's, where servers keep the wait as painless as possible by serving complimentary coffee, cookies, and other snacks. The line will soon be forgotten after a few bites of Tom's famous pancakes, which arrive topped with homemade flavored butters.

Queens: 24-Hour Classic

This 24-hour spot doesn’t just look the part of the all-American diner, it's even played one on TV, making appearances in shows such as NYPD Blue and 30 Rock. The menu does offer a few surprises though—most notably a meaty moussaka layered with eggplant, potatoes, and béchamel.

Lower East Side: French Fare Meets French Fries

This cozy café is modeled after French truck stops, proving once again that the French do everything with more style. Cloth napkins replace diner-standard paper and sandwiches become refined with fillings such as soppressata and cornichons or chicken, goat cheese, and ratatouille. These sandwiches are served on baguettes with—yes—fries.

Upper West Side: Art Deco Design

Stepping into Metro Diner late at night might feel a bit like stepping into a living version of Edward Hopper's Nighthawks. Art deco booths and retro wraparound lights create a timeless atmosphere that belies the eatery's relatively young age and a menu that features modern twists on diner classics.

Clinton: Slice of Pie and History

Frank Sinatra, Bette Midler, and members of the Westies gang are among the regulars that once flocked to this Hell's Kitchen staple for its pies and friendly waitresses. Temporarily closed in 2006, visitors now have a second chance to split disco fries with cops taking a break from the beat.

Lower East Side: Order by the Rules

It's hard to say what Shopsin's is more famous for: its food or its bad attitude. Order off the menu? No way. More than four people? Forget it. Don't like the rules? Get out. But good luck trying to find better versions of the diner’s hundreds of creative dishes (mac ’n’ cheese pancakes, Cajun meatloaf) anyplace else.

Bronx: Stump the Chef

Substitutions and special requests are met with a smile at this diner, even for dishes not listed on the menu. Good luck stumping the chefs, as their regular repertoire already includes everything from shepherd’s pie to mofongo—a Puerto Rican dish made with fried plantains.