All-American Diner Tour

In 2017, I visited over two dozen diners in Upstate New York to indulge my own sense of nostalgia and share my love for diner culture with my readers. These were never meant to be reviews, per se, just a bit of what each diner has to offer. In case you missed it, here are links to the entire series! The diners are organized by city in alphabetical order.

Gram’s Diner
Adams, New York

Located in downtown Adams, New York near Sandy Creek, Gram’s is a modern diner with a contemporary style. According to the Watertown Daily Times, Gram’s has been open for decades, with a handmade, wooden sign above the door (you can see old photos in this article). New owners took over Gram’s in 2013 and updated its decor to give it a fresh new look.

Amsterdam Diner
Amsterdam, New York

North of Amsterdam in the Mohawk Valley, nestled among strip malls near the intersection of Route 30 and Log City Road, sits the Amsterdam Diner. This is the latest establishment to go by that name. Apparently there was an older Amsterdam Diner south of town off Exit 27. This establishment used to be called the Olympic Diner, but came under new ownership. It is a modern or Greek-style diner.

South 30 Diner
Amsterdam, New York

Along a rural stretch of Route 30 south of Amsterdam in Montgomery County, New York, the South 30 Diner appears at the roadside like a tiny farm smokehouse. It is a rustic, country-style diner with a capital “C”. The owners want you to feel like you’re in grandma’s kitchen. Anita (presumably the owner) left a special message on the menu: “As a food artiste, I see the beauty in all from a carrot to a cracker. To create a meal, is to create a work of art, it is not only nourishing but an expression of love.”

Blue Dolphin Diner
Apalachin, New York

The Blue Dolphin Diner, off New York State Route 17 in Apalachin, New York west of Binghamton, is a Greek-style diner with a very unique sign and a dolphin statue visible from the highway. This place is a travelers’ favorite and opened in 1989.

Flo’s Diner
Canastota, New York

Located along State Route 31 (Lake Road) near Oneida Lake’s southeastern shore, Flo’s is a country-style diner serving up 10-cent coffee to sportsmen, boaters, and tourists visiting nearby Sylvan Beach. You know you’ve arrived when you see a giant rooster statue. Flo’s has a Canastota address, but is actually located five miles north of town.

Magic’s Diner
Felts Mills, New York

Located along State Route 3 between Felts Mills and Great Bend, New York, Magic’s Diner (formerly Magic’s Golden Unicorn) is a country-style diner known for its “Mountain Challenge” and is a favorite of soldiers from nearby Fort Drum.

Prospect Mountain Diner
Lake George, New York

Located along US Route 9 just west of Lake George Battleground State Campground, Prospect Mountain Diner is a typical 1950s or rock ‘n’ roll-themed diner in Lake George, New York, complete with tableside jukeboxes.

Lloyd’s Diner
Lowville, New York

Lloyd’s of Lowville is a rare classic diner–an actual train car converted into a restaurant. Opened by Lloyd Rasmussen in 1939 at the juncture of Routes 12 and 26 to serve nearby factory workers, it has been a local favorite ever since. Current owner Blair Sandri bought it in 1985, and it still has its original wood furnishings. It’s so beloved, several of its waitresses have worked there for over 25 years.

Empire Diner
Monroe, New York

Located at the juncture of Highway 17M and Schunemunk Road across from Airplane Park in northern Monroe, Empire Diner is a mix of classic and modern styles. They have a variety of delicious desserts, including four shelves of cheesecake.

Alexis Diner
Newburgh, New York

Located off I-84 at the juncture of Route 9W and N. Plank Road at the north end of economically depressed , New York, Alexis Diner is a 24-hour Greek restaurant-diner hybrid with all the chrome you can ask for. Its extensive menu and desert offerings includes a full bar.

Julie’s Diner
North Syracuse, New York

Located off Brewerton Road (US Highway 11) at the terminus of Airport Boulevard just outside the Syracuse Hancock International Airport in North Syracuse, New York, Julie’s is a modern diner with a fresh, contemporary style. Their motto is “We dish it out, you gotta take it!” (Not sure what that’s supposed to mean…)

Wade’s Diner
Oswego, New York

The original Wade’s, an old Pullman car and service station on 9th Street near Route 104 (Bridge Street), was a historic diner that opened in 1937. Unfortunately, an electric fire in August 2015 destroyed the original structure. It was rebuilt in a more modern style to comply with zoning regulations and “support modern technologies.” That technology apparently doesn’t include a credit card reader.

Center Diner
Peekskill, New York

Situated on Peekskill Bay on the Hudson River’s east bank, Peekskill is a small river town with a modern downtown. The Center Diner, opened in 1939 on Bank Street off Route 202 (Main Street), is a classic greasy spoon wedged between an alley and a plasma center. It is a rare, true diner.

Carl’s Kountry Kitchen
Syracuse, New York

Located in Syracuse near the border of the Italian-American hamlet of Lyncourt, New York, Carl’s Kountry Kitchen is a classic greasy spoon right out of the 1960s. Like the surrounding neighborhood, not much has changed here in decades.

Market Diner
Syracuse, New York

Located off Park Street north of Destiny Mall and adjacent to the Syracuse Farmer’s Market, the Market Diner is rock ‘n’ roll-themed with a cafe-like atmosphere. Owned by the Marinos family since 1974.

Mother’s Cupboard
Syracuse, New York

Located on State Route 290 (James Street) near a cemetery and railroad tracks in northeastern Syracuse, New York, Mother’s Cupboard is a greasy spoon serving up giant frittatas and pancakes in the morning and fried fish in the early afternoon.

The Gem Diner
Syracuse, New York

Located off Spencer Street near I-690 in Syracuse’s Lakefront neighborhood, The Gem is a 1950s-style or rock ‘n’ roll-themed diner that also has an impressive beer menu featuring local breweries.

The Orange Top Diner
Tuxedo, New York

Along a lonesome highway in the middle of nowhere, in a town that’s seen better days, The Orange Top Diner is a real slice of Americana. It is a country-style diner with limited counter seating but plenty of booths and tables. Diner cartoons hang on the walls and a faded photograph of a family of raccoons rescued from a dumpster hangs over the register.

Knotty Pine Diner
Wampsville, New York

Located along Genesee Street (Route 5) just west of Oneida, New York, the Knotty Pine is a rustic, country-style diner. It sits in the heart of a historic area with lots to see and do, including the Oneida Community Mansion House, Turning Stone Casino, and Boxing Hall of Fame.

Friede’s Diner
Watertown, New York

Located on Court Street near the Black River in Watertown, New York, Friede’s Diner is a greasy spoon serving up affordable breakfast and lunch to a local clientele.

Longway’s Diner
Watertown, New York

Located at the intersection of State Routes 37 and 342 several miles north of Watertown, New York, Longway’s Diner is a greasy spoon catering primarily to interstate truckers and soldiers from nearby Fort Drum.

Shorty’s Place
Watertown, New York

Located at 1280 Coffeen Street, just off Interstate 81, in Watertown, New York, Shorty’s Place is a great 1950s-themed diner and a favorite of both locals and soldiers from nearby Fort Drum. It’s worth going for the decor alone. The owner must have spent a long time tracking down so much Coca-Cola-themed bric-a-brac. The diner is clean and nostalgia palpable. Seating includes a long counter, tables, and booths. Each booth contains a working jukebox.

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