Always Missing My New Jersey Diners

20 Feb

There are some things about New Jersey that I miss more than others.  At the top of the list is the wonderful New Jersey diner.  There is nothing in the world like eating at a diner.

Okay, perhaps the food is not the best…but there is a lot of it.

Perhaps the décor is a little outdated….but it is fun!

The wait staff might sometimes be a little gruff, but they can help you decide on the best meal ever.

There is nothing like a New Jersey diner.

Typically owned by a Greek family, a diner’s menu usually consists of both American and Greek food.  Of course you can order matzah ball soup and deli sandwiches as well.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner can be ordered at any time of the day. And on Friday, they usually have challah.

The best thing about the food in the diner, is that everyone can find something to eat.  Because the menu choices are so vast, no one can complain.  A great value when you take children out to dine.

And diners are family friendly!

There is nothing in the Midwest that can compare.

Image

Mom and Dad at the Diner the summer 2005.

When my parents were living, every time I went to New Jersey, we had our first meal at the River View Diner on River Road in North Bergen.  It was my parent’s favorite.  Tom, the owner, would greet my parents with a big hello.  He was always happy to see my children and me. ( One comment, although named the River View Diner, and located very close to the Hudson Rive, you cannot see the River from the eating area of the diner. )

We would meet my sister and her family there.  In fact, the night before my sister gave birth to her daughter, we ate at the diner. My husband, children and I had flown into NJ for Passover.  For our ‘last’ meal out, we ate at the diner.  My sister was already at least a week past her due date.  It was obvious that she was ready to have the baby.

The next day, my niece was born.  Although I would like to say that diner food helped speed her along to giving birth, I cannot not.  My sister really did not eat much that evening.

Whenever my parents said, “Let’s eat at the Diner,” we knew exactly where they were talking about.  There was no other diner for them. And as they aged, their dining at the diner increased.   In fact, after they both passed away, my siblings and I, along with some of our children, went to the diner to eat.  It seemed right.

When I was in New Jersey to clean out my parents’ apartment, my brother and I again went to the diner on River Road, for the memory of our parents. Tom’s children now run the diner. They have updated the outside and inside décor.   It looks really nice. But the menu is still the same.  Thank goodness.

However, one diner visit was not enough for me.  Since I was staying in Tenafly with my sister, I was able to convince her that eating at the diner in town was important as well.  There are a multitude of good restaurants in Tenafly. But somehow we ate three meals at the diner.

To those who have never seen a diner, the outside is always somewhat the same: a sort of metallic, (usually)  rectangular box with windows.  And the word, Diner, must be included in the title.  Tenafly Diner, River View Diner…. Nothing fancy.  There are lots of booths in a diner, with formica table tops.  The booth seats must be covered in vinyl…red, blue, grey.  The color does not matter that much.  An important element used to be the little jukeboxes at each table.  But in many diners these have been removed.

Desserts were also important when having a diner meal.  Besides filling up on the enormous amounts of food, you have to save room for a pastry or a cookie.   I loved the chocolate chip cookies at my parent’s favorite diner.  I would check out all the cookies they had and pick out the perfect ones. Mom and I loved them.  No one else really did.  We didn’t care.  We always ordered one or two to bring home and then would eat them with our tea each evening.  We shared a cookie each night.

Recently my daughter revealed a secret to me.  She actually did not like eating at the diner. I was shocked.  How could my daughter feel that way?  But I realized she was brought up in Kansas.  There were probably too many choices  on the menu for her.  And what did she know of good diner food?

She did not know what she was saying!  But for me…I will always be missing my New Jersey diners.

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