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Tuesday, September 16, 2014


People love to make fun of New Jersey. 

There is the old joke that everyone asks “What exit?” when determining where you live in New Jersey.  Actually some towns are not located near the Turnpike or the Garden State Parkway. 

Transients claim New Jersey smells.  It does smell if you travel through the oil refinery area of the Jersey Turnpike, but that is just a small part of New Jersey.  There used to be pig farms and rendering plants in Secaucus which combined with the refinery was really pungent.

There is the “dirty water” cocktail rumor.   OK, that one is true; some bars do water down the booze.

Go ahead, make fun of New Jersey, we don’t go to the beach, but we do have “The Shore” and we may not have fine dining, but we do have Diners.

I think New Jersey invented the diner, named as they were converted rail road dining cars.  We have more diners per square mile than any other state.  Diners are the best.  If you’ve had too much to drink…a diner is the best medicine.  Two eggs over, bacon, home fries, rye toast, coffee and you are good to go.

Here is what I love about diners:

They are open 24/7. 

Their menus are over 8 pages; they have breakfast, lunch and dinner.  You can order Italian, Greek, or just plain comfort cuisine, and you can order anything on the menu at any time of the day. 

Diners are all family owned and operated by Greeks, I don’t know why, they just are.  The owners never take any time off, they all work 24/7 and always welcome you with a smile.  You can hear the owner yelling at everyone in the kitchen, and then he walks out and gives you a big smile and a hello.

The food is always reasonably priced…ok, cheap.

You do not have to order coffee at the diner, it is automatic and if you have more than two sips, the waitress spots it while walking by and tops off your cup.  The waitresses seem to always be carrying a pot of coffee.

No matter what you order at the diner it is at your table ready to eat in less than five minutes.

All the waitresses at the diner chew gum, and they always call you “Honey.” If you are at a diner and the waitress does not call you “Honey,” you are not in New Jersey.

When you are done eating, they do not rush you out at the diner.  You can talk and drink coffee for hours.  On the way out there is always a toothpick and a bowl of mints after you pay.

Go ahead, make fun of New Jersey, but the next time you pass through, and most people only pass through New Jersey, take any exit, and follow that road until you find a diner…it won’t take more than a few miles, there is at least one diner in every town.  Stop in and order lunch…or breakfast…or dinner, whatever.  Eat, chat and enjoy the special cuisine and atmosphere that you can only find at a New Jersey Diner.

“Set on down, what can I getcha Honey?”

Tell them Cranky sent you.


  1. Noone goes to the shore in New Jersey. They go "Down the Shore".

    1. North Jersey yes, I've lived in Central Jersey over 50 years and most here say "to the shore" If we go to AC, we "Go down to Atlantic City."

  2. I think each town around here has not one, but two diners.... State Line Diner is best; their steak fries are GLORIOUS

  3. I've been to Jersey several times and you are right. Other than the deep south they are the friendliest diners you will find and the food is good and cheap.

  4. I guess that like Clinton had trouble defining 'if', I'm having some difficulty defining 'good'.
    Isn't NJ's motto "The Garden State"? I always assumed that it meant you needed to bein' guardin' your wallet.

  5. Although my ancestors are westerners for generations, a bunch of them started out in New Jersey. I'm guessing it's named The Garden State for some very good reasons totally missed by those shooting through on the Turnpike. I SO wish we had diners here. No, we get cookie cutter franchise junk with no personality AT ALL.

    (Why is your edge of the ocean The Shore when everyone else just has a beach?)

  6. I've never been to New Jersey. Sounds like a great place to go...a diner that is.

    Q: Why does California have the most lawyers, and New Jersey, the most toxic waste dumps?
    A: New Jersey got first pick!

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

  7. i'd love 'em! they just need good pie and i'm there!

  8. I agree there is just something about a diner and diner food! I've been to Jersey a couple o times. It's been awhile tho. Once to the shore Wildwood and Cape May and other times to Tom's River. I think after watching every show of the Soprano's I thought that every eat'n spot was Italian. : /

  9. I used to do shows in New Jersey just to eat in the diners. I could have chicken livers any day of the week. There used to be diners through Pennsylvania and Ohio, but they're too spread out and forgot their roots, and how to mash potatoes.

  10. We're visiting NJ next month to see our daughter. I can't wait to go to a diner, order some coffee and eggs. Maybe a doughnut.

  11. That sounds a lot like some of the deli's we have out here!!

  12. Sounds inviting. Sometimes I wonder what it would've been like to grow up on the east coast. I like how you guys talk, and I don't know...something about the traditions and things. We don't have that out here in CA. Everything is new and mixed together out here. But, it's home to me. I'm not complaining. But it is very different. I feel like people have thicker skins on the east coast, like you can get yelled at or you can yell at someone else or be rude and it's ok. In CA if you are not polite and nice 100% of the time, you are shunned. But in the east coast I feel you can just be who you are and say what you want 100% of the time and people love and accept you anyway, because they have thicker skins and don't take things so personally. Am I way off? This is just my perception, I could be wrong.

  13. So, why isn't it called the Diner State, rather than the Garden State?

  14. Haha @ Sandee.

    I've never been to/thru NJ, but I must say as the new pitch man for the New Jersey Diners Association you make a very compelling case. I'll add it to my "to do" list.

  15. A diner is great cure at 3AM or so I use to think. Sixty five years ago when I went through Jersey, it did stink. Pretty sure it was those hogs. I have a cousin who lives there now and loves it.

  16. Gary stinks the most. I haven't been to NJ in 17 years, though.

  17. A genuine New Jersey diner is one thing I really would like to experience. I've read about them, seen them in movies, I think it would be great to sit in one all day, on into the evening and just soak it all in.

  18. We have a few diners here in Portland but they aren't as much fun as you describe. Everything runs in cycles so maybe diners swill come back in style. I hope so. I've never been to New Jersey so I don't have an opinion about the State.

  19. When did you start working for the New Jersey Tourism Commission? Oh. Since they agreed to pay you in diner food, I imagine.

  20. Nothing could be finer than a diner...oh, wait. Wrong song.

    Love diners!

  21. We don't have many (any?) dinners here. Probably have been run off by fancy restaurants that would feel threatened to have good tasting food at reasonable prices.



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