The Star Diner in Kingston, Ontario

Photos from The Star Diner at 849 Princess Street in Kingston, Ontario. This storefront diner’s 1960s Atompunk aesthetic is groovy. I ate a crab omelet (on special), and it came with hash browns, toast, and a slice of watermelon. A hidden gem.

All-American Diner Tour: South 30 Diner in 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.”

On my visit, I ordered a Bird ‘n’ Nest, which is a fried egg cooked in a piece of bread over corn-beef hash and two bacon strips for $6.95. The corn-beef hash is just home fries with pieces of meat sprinkled in. Somehow they managed to come out soft in some places and overcooked in others. I like corn-beef hash you’d get at the grocery store, but dislike potato chunks.

Their menu is simple and printed on two sides of an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper folded in thirds. Breakfast is served all day. In addition to the Bird ‘n’ Nest, they offer several other custom dishes, including the Mykenny, Crazy Papa’s, and Dickie Do. The Mykenny is just 2 sausages, 2 slices of bacon, 2 eggs, potatoes, and toast for $8.95. They serve homemade sausage.

The South 30 Diner has a 4.5/5 average out of 47 Google reviews and 4.0/5 average on Yelp. Reviews are generally favorable. Google-user Michael Carbone wrote, “This place is everything you want out of a town diner. The owner is always there working tables, happy to talk about her work. You can tell she’s there for the love of cooking food for people. The food itself is delicious, I’ve never gotten the same thing twice and nothing has ever been ‘just okay’. Highly recommend trying it out.”

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The Original Amsterdam Diner

I saw this guy off Exit 27 south of Amsterdam, New York. I don’t know if this is true, but I was told it’s been open since the 1970s, before the Super 8 motel was built next door, and closed around 2011. The former owner apparently had a “habit” and tried to keep the place open until he couldn’t pay his employees anymore. I couldn’t find any information about it online.

All-American Diner Tour: Amsterdam Diner in 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.

It wasn’t busy when I stopped in for dinner. An old, wiry cowboy sat at the counter and a few families were scattered around the restaurant. I ordered a Greek wrap, which consisted of grilled chicken, fresh baby spinach, mushrooms, honey mustard dressing, and chunks of feta cheese with fries and a small side of coleslaw for $8.99. It was pretty good for the price.

The Amsterdam Diner has a traditional menu mixed with ethnic Greek and Italian cuisine. Italian dishes are mostly parmigiana, which is usually a fried eggplant dish. They offer variations with cheese ravioli, chicken cutlet, butterfly shrimp, and chopped steak. Greek dishes include something called “Spinach Pie and Rise” for $12.99.

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All-American Diner Tour: Alexis Diner in 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. There is limited counter seating but plenty of booths and tables. Wall murals and chandeliers hanging from the ceiling make for an unusually classy atmosphere.

On my visit, I ordered the Mediterranean Panini with grilled chicken, fresh spinach, mozzarella cheese, and pesto for $10.75. It came with French fries, cole slaw, and half a pickle. I was able to substitute macaroni salad for the French fries for no extra charge. The waitress was attentive and the food was good.

My only complaint was that the chicken pieces in my panini were too large but otherwise it was perfect. I normally don’t eat desert, but my waitress persuaded me to try the rice pudding. I thought it would be served in a small bowl, but it came out in a large glass topped with whip cream and cinnamon! So good.

As mentioned earlier, their menu is quite extensive. At twelve pages, it’d be hard not to find something you like. There is an entire selection of southwestern cuisine, including stir fry, fajitas, quesadillas, nachos, and a taco salad. Their specialty sandwiches include a “Jitterbug,” an open-faced hamburger slathered in gravy, served with French fries or potato salad and cole slaw for $7.25.

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All-American Diner Tour: Center Diner in 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. Classic diners were prefabricated buildings modeled on train dining cars and mass produced by companies out of New Jersey. This model is called a “National diner,” and it inspired the Sunset Diner in Little Lulu comics.

On my visit, I ordered the Golden Brown French Toast, which came with two sausage patties and a can(!) of Coke for $5.95. Restaurants selling cans of soda, rather than having a beverage fountain, is a pet peeve of mine, but it came with the meal so I guess I can’t complain. Two potbellied old men sat at the counter, talking about politics while an industrial fan whirled in the background. My waitress was a grandmotherly lady who, if she was the same waitress mentioned in countless reviews, had been working there a long time. The French toast was good, price was reasonable, and service efficient.

The Center Diner has a typical menu with a few surprises. There is a small Greek section, offering gyros, balboa, and something called chicken souvlaki served in a pita. According to Wikipedia, souvlaki is a popular Greek fast food consisting of small pieces of meat and sometimes vegetables grilled on a skewer. I’ve eaten this before but never knew what it was called. That’s only $6.50, or $8.50 with French fries.

Center Diner has a 4.3/5 average out of 34 Google reviews and 4.0/5 average on Yelp. Customers generally enjoy the nostalgia and affordable prices. In a typical positive review, Google user Jeff Altorfer wrote, “This place is downright great! It’s the real thing: This is an OLD fashioned NY diner. I mean that in every way. Run down, neglected, NO artifice what so ever. Hard working almost painfully efficient staff that have ZERO patience for modern customers that have no idea what they want, how they want it, or that need 50 options on everything…”

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All-American Diner Tour: The Orange Top Diner in 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.

State Route 17 and Interstate 87 run parallel to Harriman State Park and follow the Ramapo River. East of Tuxedo Lake sits the once prosperous village of Tuxedo. It resembles a ghost town these days, with boarded-up businesses along the highway, but The Orange Top Diner stubbornly hangs on.

The usual diner crowd of old timers drinking coffee was there to greet me on my visit. I ordered the Big Boy Special–two pancakes with one egg and meat for $7.75. They must not have a lot of fat people in town if that’s considered the “big boy,” but it was enough to fill me up. My scrambled egg and bacon was piled on top the pancakes, but the bacon was delicious and the grease didn’t spoil my pancakes like at some other places.

The Orange Top Diner has a typical diner menu. The food is simple and affordable, though dinner items are on the pricey side. Only one breakfast item, steak and eggs, is priced above $10.00. Their signature sandwich special, the “Happy Waitress,” is an open-faced American grilled cheese sandwich topped with bacon and tomato, with French fries, cole slaw, and pickles for $8.25.

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