They dot the New Jersey landscape. Headlights blazing with bright chrome, their neon lights beckon you to come in and sample their delicious menu. The portions are large, the atmosphere is electric with a cheery noise: teenagers giggling over a smoothie, workers enjoying a steaming cup before heading off to work, retired couples enjoying the house special.
Welcome to the quintessential New Jersey restaurant, a Garden State tradition that dates back to 1913 when Jerry Mahoney took what was then the rage in restaurants, a horse-drawn food cart, and made it stationary, creating the first restaurant real.
Jersey residents quickly fell in love with the diners: their meals were hot, delicious, and inexpensive. The portions were more than ample. Best of all, they stay open until the wee hours of the morning, sometimes 24 hours a day.
Today, there is no denying that New Jersey is the restaurant capital of the world with over 500 such restaurants lining its highways and byways. Some of the diners remain unchanged and still have that quintessential chrome exterior, blazing neon lights, a line of swivel stools lining the front counter, and comfortable booths lining the walls alongside large glass windows, while others They have become more traditional dining rooms. experiences. Either way, they still offer delicious menus and good times.
Since I’m a Jersey native, but moved a long time ago, it’s become a ritual on my return visits to make my first stop, and last with a few in between, a visit to a Jersey restaurant. In no particular order, let me introduce you to nine of my favorites.
1. Stateline Restaurant
Our first stop is in northern New Jersey on the New York state line in my hometown of Mahwah: Stateline Diner on Route 17.
Stateline Diner’s menu is huge, offering not only your standard American fare of burgers and fries, but also full pages of incredibly delicious specialty items.
Their breakfast line has 21 different omelettes ranging from the basic American cheese or western omelet to the unique flavors of corned beef or Nova Scotia smoked salmon and onion omelet.
For dinner there are salads (one of my favorites is the BBQ salmon salad), wraps like chicken milanesa, and of course, sandwiches. For a little Jersey-style southern flavor, try Stateline’s Fried Shrimp Po’ Boy with Remoulade Creole Sauce.
- Breakfast of Champions: western omelette
- Delicious dinner: Milanese chicken wrap
- Something special: Fried Shrimp Po’ Boy with Creole Remoulade Sauce
2. Paul’s family dinner
Some diners have staying power. Take Paul’s Family Diner on Route 46 in Mountain Lakes, for example. Paul’s first opened its doors in 1947, as they say, “back when the road was just a dirt road into town.”
Open year-round, 7 days a week, 7 am to 9 pm (including holidays), Paul’s lives up to its name as a family-friendly restaurant offering something to delight all ages and tastes.
The menu is eclectic. Local and personal breakfast favorites include the Farmer’s Omelette with Bacon, Mushrooms, Onions and Cheese, and the Nutella Banana French Toast.
On the hamburger side, the exclusive Trenton Burger stands out. It’s 100% Angus beef topped with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, egg, and a true Jersey delight: the tangy flavor of Taylor ham. There has been a war in the state for generations over Taylor Ham. In the North, it is called by the brand name, Taylor Ham. In the south, it’s called a pork roll. Either way, it’s for the best.
And speaking of fresh: their extensive salad menu includes locally grown produce in season (it is the Garden State, after all).
For an appetizer, try a Jersey favorite: Disco Fries – fries with mozzarella cheese and brown sauce.
- Breakfast of Champions: Banana Nutella French Toast
- Delicious dinner: Trenton Burger
- Something special: Potato chips
3. Amy’s Tortilla House
Heading to the Jersey Shore, we pay a visit to Amy’s Omelette House in Long Branch on Ocean Boulevard. This location is the oldest of Amy’s three locations. The other two are in Cherry Hill and Burlington. Different places, same great menu.
If you haven’t guessed, Amy’s is known for its tortillas: over 200 varieties using nine different cheeses, nine different vegetables, and four different meat combinations. If you can dream it, Amy can do it.
But don’t let the name fool you. The menu is also full of other delicious offerings for lunch and dinner.
- Breakfast of Champions: Traveling Omelette
- Lunch: Reuben Melt
- Something special: amy’s salad
4. Courthouse Restaurant
Cape May Courthouse
Since Sam and Helen Mallous first opened their doors in 1997, Court House Diner on N. Main Street in Cape May Court House has been delighting locals with its breakfast, lunch and dinner menu.
Topping the list to start your morning are their sweet and gooey Caramel Banana Crunch Pancakes topped with cinnamon crumbs, bananas, and a perfectly sweet caramel to drizzle on top to your liking.
You don’t see many restaurants offering one of my favorite salads, the Waldorf, anymore, but the Courthouse does it with a twist: their spicy chicken salad Waldorf salad melts with, you guessed it, chicken salad plus walnuts, dried cranberries , apples. , and fontina cheese all over sourdough bread.
And for dinner, come hungry and try the Mile High Meatloaf, a tower of delicious and tangy meatloaf with lots of mashed potatoes, onion rings and gravy.
First-time online orders for pickup get 10 percent off your food—not a bad deal.
- Breakfast of Champions: Crispy Caramel Banana Pancakes
- Delicious dinner: Mile-high meatloaf
- Something special: Waldorf Salad Chicken Salad Meltdown
5. Majestic dinner
The Majestic Diner in Ramsey on Route 17 is no ordinary diner. Oh sure, they have the classics like meatloaf, buttermilk Belgian waffles and Reubens, but dig a little deeper into the menu and discover crabmeat stuffed sole, sesame crusted salmon, lobster ravioli and many more. dishes that will surprise and please your palate.
- Breakfast of Champions: Belgian Buttermilk Waffles
- Delicious dinner: Reuben sandwich
- Something special: Sesame Crusted Salmon
6. Tapas restaurant
When it comes to diners, Tops Diner on Passaic Avenue in Harrison is literally the best. The restaurant is routinely voted #1 in the region year after year. Doors first opened in 1938 as Tops Grill and it became an immediate local favorite. The Golemis family purchased the restaurant from its original owner in 1972 and recently completed a four-year, $10 million renovation.
Forget the neon lights that surround the building. Once you enter, you will be amazed at the renovation that has taken place: 15,000 square feet of dining space with warm and inviting wood accents. The centerpiece is a massive black marble counter with 18 stools and rows of wide, comfortable benches.
One thing remains the same: the amazing and delicious menu that ranges from standard fare (their eggs benedict is extraordinary and the meatloaf smothered in mushroom sauce is so good) to something more upscale like the arrabiatta rigatoni with basil, onion, parmesan and spicy . Calabrian sauce or ahi tuna tacos.
Tops also offers a full selection of cocktails, beer, wine and spirits.
- Breakfast of Champions: Benedict eggs
- Delicious dinner: meatloaf
- Something special: Rigatoni Arrabiatta
7. Doo Wop Restaurant
What could be better than spending a day on the world famous Wildwood Boardwalk? Eat at the Doo Wop Diner, of course!
As its name suggests, the Doo Wop harkens back to the 1950s with a statue of Betty Boop dressed in quintessential waitress attire greeting you. Black and white floors and wall trim gleam, and red vinyl booths and stools are waiting for you to take a seat and place your order.
There is nothing pretentious about their menu. Delicious and hot, the restaurant serves classic breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes with just the right twist to satisfy any taste, plus a classic fountain menu of shakes, malts and floats.
After a long day at the beach or touring the boardwalk, the Doo Wop is the perfect place to end the day. Just remember, it can be packed in the summer.
- Breakfast of Champions: Blueberry Hill Pancakes
- Delicious dinner: Eye Opener (Burger)
- Something special: The Grasshopper (Dessert)
8. Tick Tock Restaurant
When you think of a quintessential New Jersey restaurant, you can’t help but imagine the diners in old 1940s movies: They stay open all night, the morning mist dampens the asphalt and makes the neon lights shine. Create a dazzling light show on wet pavement.
The Tick-Tock Diner on Route 3 in Clifton is one of those. Since it first opened its doors in 1948, the restaurant has been open every day, with few exceptions, 24/7.
While Tick-Tock offers lighter portions, they’re better known for their tagline, “Eat Heavy.” The portions are generous, the prices affordable, and the taste delicious.
Local favorites include the Mick Jagger (who once dined at the Tick-Tock before a concert at MetLife Stadium) with Taylor Ham, Cheese and Fried Eggs and his famous mac and cheese balls called Big Balls of Fire! complete with Sriracha ranch sauce.
And don’t forget to finish off with a piece of cake touted as the best in the state.
- Breakfast of Champions: Mick jagger
- local favourite: caprese burger
- Something special: Big balls of fire!
9. Jefferson Restaurant
The restaurant tradition continues at Jefferson Diner on Bowling Green Parkway in Lake Hopatcong.
Although relatively new (the Seretis family opened in 1985), the Jefferson has dazzled diners with its retro, chrome and neon exterior, but what really draws them in is its menu, which features generous portions like stacked plates. (and I mean really tall) Russian square paninis loaded with sliced turkey, sauerkraut, melted Swiss cheese and Russian dressing, a line of what is touted as “New Jersey’s Biggest Club Sandwiches” and amazing Greek offerings including the Donna’s famous moussaka dish.
Top it off with a glass from their amazing wine menu and you have (pardon the pun) the recipe for success. The Jefferson has made many appearances on television shows, including the Food Network. without involvement Y Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. You can even see host Guy Fieri’s 1967 Camaro in the restaurant.
- Breakfast of Champions: Shores Cake French Toast
- Delicious dinner: Russian Square Panini
- Something special: Donna’s famous moussaka fountain