These signature, shiny restaurants keep customers coming back with good, old-fashioned, homemade dishes and chrome-laced ambience.
Despite the rise of fast-food outlets, they’ve carved a niche not just in history but in today’s palates.
Famed for their family atmosphere and excellent food (none of which requires a second mortgage to treat the family), New Jersey’s nostalgic offerings have even been featured on the Food Network show, “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” starring Guy Fieri.
Here is a sampling of well-known diners — but the fun is in finding your own favorite spot: - The Clinton Station Diner, in Clinton, is unlike any other you have ever seen. Sit down and observe the model trains go around suspended from the ceiling, or enjoy the unique fish tank.
If you prefer a more quiet setting, sit in the dining room near the working fireplace. It’s also home of Mt. Olympus: The 50 lb. burger and much more.
- Bill’s Diner in Barnegat Light is a destination because of both its colorful owner, Bill Smith, and his signature dishes, such as homemade chipped beef and a Cyclops pancake with an egg in the middle.
- The Tick Tock Diner, built in 1948 in Clifton, has been restored to its former art-deco glory and is a favorite spot for a late-night – or early morning – bite. As locals know, the hickory-smoked spareribs are a lip-smacking treat.
- In Hightown, the Hightstown Diner is a hot spot for breakfast — and no wonder, with menu items such as strawberry-banana waffles, homemade corned beef hash and a six-egg Greek omelet.
- Speaking of Greek food, the Jefferson Diner in Lake Hopatcong is owned by the Seretis family, whose recipes include plenty of Greek dishes and a popular lobster bisque and seafood al Greco.
- If it’s a burger you crave, step back in time to the Hackensack-based White Manna Diner, which has been relatively unchanged for more than 60 years and serves 800 to 1,000 burgers a day.
You can easily find a diner anywhere in the state by visiting www.njdiners.com.
Of course, other dining options are also available. Whether it’s a pizza place on the Boardwalk (ask Ocean City regulars what they think of Mack & Manko pizza) or simply a local restaurant serving fresh, flavorful dishes, you’re sure to find a new spot that will become a family tradition.
A Week to Dine For More than 16,000 restaurants — everything from full-service, white tablecloth establishments to slide-into-a-booth eateries — call New Jersey home.
A statewide restaurant week each April entices diners to enjoy different experiences. Participating restaurants plan and prepare a special menu, usually featuring several courses, for a set price.
South Jersey Restaurant Week last year offered four-course dinners in a variety of restaurants from Haddon Heights to Cherry Hill and Mullica Hill — and the cost is just $35.
For a complete listing of South Jersey restaurant events, including chef wars and “Feast in the Fields,” check out www.sjhotchefs.com.
Atlantic City’s Restaurant Week, held annually around the beginning of March, gives diners a mind-boggling array of restaurant choices and cuisines.
For more information, visit www.acrestaurantweek.com. Hudson County holds two restaurant weeks each year in with participating restaurants in Jersey City, Hoboken, Weehawken and North Bergen.
The bi-annual culinary celebrations are organized to promote the county as a premier dining destination in New Jersey. And Newark’s restaurant week features up to 30 participating eateries that showcase the quality and diversity of the city's vast dining establishments.