For the next week (or two or more, depending on how ambitious/”busy” I am), I will be running a series called #BallinOnABudget which will run down various lists of inexpensive eateries for all of you from or visiting New Joisey. #BallinOnABudget is a lifestyle that does not only include food and perhaps one day I’ll explain the practice (think #StrongMove but more fiscally responsible). But for our purposes, we’re attacking food for now. Today’s list, everyone’s favorite: JERSEY DINERS! (Tip: Bendix Diner will actually not be on this list; I just needed a picture that really encompassed the Jersey Diner feel. You’re it Bendix. If I had to rank NJ diners, Bendix will probably round out the list. On the bottom)
Our list starts out with Edison’s own Skylark Diner
The question anyone has if they have visited Skylark: should it even be considered a diner? That speaks to how good the food is. Skylark, right on Route 1, is in close proximity to Rutgers University and the Menlo Park Mall and boasts a wine list and cocktail menu, a lounge complete with a Monday through Friday happy hour, and fantastic food choices. The breakfast menu is only available upon request (unless of course you go in the morning) which adds to the debate of whether it’s a diner or not. The decor is chic and updated. But let’s not kid ourselves, the food is the main attraction. Though it is a little pricier than most diners (and thus not truly #BallinOnABudget approved), the menu provides offerings that you simply can’t get anywhere else. So we’ll splurge. If you go for breakfast, good luck in choosing between all of the omelets. If you go for lunch or dinner, good luck in choosing between all of the sandwiches (though I recommend the Argentine Baguette with a side of sweet potato fries). Unless you prefer to go with a seafood platter; this is probably the only diner I would actually willingly order seafood in. Any diner with chorizo on their menu gets a nod of approval in my book. Just go, you won’t be disappointed.
Next up on our list, Tick Tock Diner
Here we go. That’s more like it. But don’t let the trashy exterior fool you. Tick Tock provides one of the premier Jersey diner experiences this side of Exit 148 off of the Parkway. Open 24 hours and equipped with a friendly wait staff, this is a perfect stop after a night of drinking with your friends. Your taste buds will thank you when you sober up. For me, the breakfast, as with any diner, is nice but the menu begins and ends with the burgers. They recently updated their menu, so the one on their website is old, but you’ll get the idea when you look at it. My favorite is the new Jersey Shore burger, with mozzarella, marinara, mozzarella sticks, and a burger patty on an Italian roll. Located near the Meadowlands on Route 3, great for a meal after a game or concert as well.
Saddle Brook Diner is next
Ahhhh, the first diner I went to while drunk off my ass. Nostalgia aside, in a county rich with diners north to south (Bergen County for those of you scoring at home), Saddle Brook is probably the Mecca. Here, the specialties are the sandwiches, wraps, but most of all, the paninis. Doesn’t get any better than this folks. Interestingly decorated and near all the major highways in Bergen County, this is a great destination for when the night is coming to a close. Just don’t try and order any more booze after you come in intoxicated like I did my first time.
A quick rundown of some of the others…
Harrison House Diner, Mullica Hill – I gotta give South Jersey something. A family owned diner way down the Turnpike offers great breakfast specials. Has a North Jersey diner feel, which is why I like it
Americana Diner, East Windsor – Owned by the same people who own Skylark. Read my praise of Skylark. More of an emphasis on sandwiches.
Edison Diner, Edison – Another Edison diner, this one is called Edison Diner. A great late-night stop for Rutgers students after drunken debauchery. Good luck figuring out that parking lot though.
Omega Diner, North Brunswick – Great desserts. Large dining room.
River Edge Diner, River Edge – Run-of-the-mill Jersey diner. Stay with the classics, never disappoints.
Suburban Diner, Paramus – Again, just a standard North Jersey diner that never disappoints. Burgers are hearty as are the triple deckers.
Coach House, Hackensack – Of course I was gonna include this on the list. Coach is mostly put on this list because of the memories we’ve had there. Right off of Route 4 and near where I went to high school, it’s the meeting place for me and my friends, where some nights begin and, more often than not, where most nights end. The food is solid, top to bottom. Can’t go wrong with burgers, quesadillas, triple deckers, wraps, the breakfast, anything really. Don’t forget to get the disco fries. And order some for the table while you’re at it. Really friendly service, know most of the waiters there. Granted, others might not be enamored with Coach, but the connection I have it with it shouldn’t be overlooked. And that’s what counts when it comes to diners.
I hope all of you have your own Coach House that you and your friends go to. Or feel free to borrow one of these. Let me know if I missed any in the comments section, in doing research for this post, I’ve realized I’ve eaten at somewhere between sixty and seventy diners in Joisey alone, but that’s not close to all of them.
So remember, when you want to go #BallinOnABudget don’t forget these New Jersey diners