Featuring extensive menus and extended hours, New York’s diners are welcoming and cheap crowd-pleasers. From Veselka to Tom’s, Culture Trip recommends 10 classic Manhattan spots.
An average of 13 diners close each year, according to Riley Arthur, who has photographed nearly all those that remain in the five boroughs for her Instagram account, Diners of New York. Approximately 419 diners are left in New York City, but these mainstays have been disappearing at a clip.
Diners are a Manhattan staple thanks to their (generally) cheap menus that feature breakfast and lunch staples served at any hour. These unfussy eateries offer diverse dishes, from pancakes at Tick Tock Diner to Veselka’s pierogies. Take a moment to plan your visit to these 10 classic diners in New York City.
Soho Diner is a modern homage to the classic diner. It opened in December 2019, but looks to the past for inspiration in the diners that native New Yorker chef Ken Addington grew up eating at after church. “In a bygone era, diner food was generally pretty unhealthy, a slapped together meal that you’d fill yourself up with while you were with company,” he said. “I think the difference with us is that we’re trying to take the diner vernacular and upgrade it a little bit.” The 75 items that compose the menu at this 24-hour joint include a vegan kasha knish, blintzes with burrata in place of cottage cheese and, of course, a tuna melt with cheddar cheese on an english muffin.
The original Odessa Café and Bar opened in 1965, closed in 2013, then rose like a phoenix though its expansion as the simply named Odessa. Opened in 1994 in Alphabet City, this old-school Eastern European diner is open 24 hours, serving up Ukranian specialties such as pierogies, kielbasa and stuffed cabbage as well as typical diner classics, banana pancakes and belgian waffles.
Ambling into Veselka after a night out in the East Village is a time-honored late-night tradition in this lively neighborhood. Open 24/7 since 1954, there is no better place to find comforting plates of goulash, kielbasa, borscht and more familiar options like mac and cheese. However, the most rewarding experience results from ordering all the pierogi varieties, from cheese to seasonal blueberry, and arguing with your dining companions over which of these savory Ukranian dumplings reigns supreme.
Blintzes, bagels and benedicts (in California, lox or classic varieties) make up the eight-page menu at this family-owned Hell’s Kitchen diner and restaurant. Opened in 1988, it is said that Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld first discussed the show that would become Seinfeld here. Breakfast is served anytime during its 24/7 operating hours, as well as Greek and Italian dishes.
This article is an updated version of a story created by Katie Shine.