1.02.2012

On Diners

I don’t think it’s any secret or too hard to figure out that I love a diner. I’ve waxed poetic on several occasions about my love for the Koffee Kove in Clayton, which is a fancied-up, wood-interior, nautical-themed masterpiece. And I’ve certainly mentioned the fact that when I am eating in a diner, I am compelled to order chocolate milk. The child-like comfort of this beverage just seems to suit all the homey treats available at diners: mashed potatoes and gravy, mile high pies, rice pudding, and homemade soups.

I thought today we would talk about a couple stand-out diners to hit as you’re traveling around our great state. Of course, I’ve logged many late night hours at Mo’s in Watertown, graced a bar stool or two at Longways in my youth, and love to hit the Depot in Adams for breakfast on Sunday morning. But if you’re road tripping elsewhere and you need cheap eats and lots of choices, here are some picks for you:

My favorite diner in all of New York State is the Roscoe Diner, in Roscoe, which is way down in the Catskills. It’s convenient for fishermen of the Beaverkill River and also for those of us who make frequent trips to Woodbury Commons Outlet Mall. It is not convenient for cell coverage. But don’t let that deter you! Most hilariously, the Roscoe Diner is like the South of the Border of the North, with billboards stretching for miles in either direction of the highway touting its “famous” whereabouts and attributes. The diner itself is pretty old school, with large stainless steel panels behind the bar and the usual diner paraphernalia. The menu is simply gargantuan. There isn’t a diner staple that you can’t find here – including the gigantic cases of pies and pastries, Greek and Jewish specialties, and fantastic breakfasts. Standouts include the chocolate chip pancakes, griddled corned beef hash, homemade rice pudding, soups, hot sandwiches smothered in gravy and club sandwiches (with bacon!). This is a don’t miss if you’re traveling down Route 17 on the way to NYC for holiday shopping. The eats will be cheap, fresh and tasty, I promise you.

Another great stop is the Neptune Diner, on State Highway 23 in Oneonta. This place is a little on the pricier side for a diner, but worth every penny. The service is fast and friendly, and the food is really excellent. I had some kind of chocolate pastry for dessert that absolutely knocked my socks off when my parents and I stopped there earlier this year. It was like a cross between a chocolate croissant and a delicious danish. Natch, I also had the hot open-faced turkey sandwich, and was really pleased with the quality of the gravy and the flavor of the turkey. They serve up Greek delights, including spanakopita and moussaka, as well as Italian treats like lasagna and lots of fried and broiled seafood choices. I don’t know – seafood has never appealed to me in a diner setting. I usually stick to sandwiches, breakfast items or Greek stuff. But I have to tell you, the Neptune is immaculate, and I can’t imagine anything wouldn’t be good there. And it’s is right off Route 88, very convenient if you need to get gas and find yourself hungry for lunch on a trek back to the Southern Tier from Albany.

When the Miss NY Pageant used to be down in Long Island, we also had a favorite diner in Melville that we went back to more than once. I know Long Island isn’t really within my Big Hungry jurisdiction, but if you’re visiting family in the greater Huntington area this holiday season, stop by the Sweet Hollow Diner. Don’t have any expectations that it will be nice inside – it’s sort of dumpy – but don’t let that be a deterrent. I had perhaps my most favorite monte cristo sandwich ever here – it was huge and delicious – and the souvlaki platter is utterly fabulous.

Where is your favorite diner in New York? I’ve heard the B’ville Diner is Baldwinsville is great, and I’m so mad I’ve never been there because I used to have family in B’ville. It’s on the list for a future stop. I also like the Broadway Diner right here in Endwell for great breakfasts. Diners are the home of real salt-of-the-Earth food: big portions of carbs and fat to make you feel all warm and squishy. Isn’t that the best feeling? Honestly, any restaurant that serves multiple menu items with gravy and/or bacon is my kind of place, and most diners fit this bill. So tweet me or Facebook or comment below with your favorite diner treats and picks. Let’s share and share alike here in Big Hungryland! My personality is big; my hunger is bigger!

Note: Sorry for the lack of photos this week, but diner food isn't always the prettiest food. Anyway, if you join the Big Hungry Shelby group on Facebook, you'll see that I've been a busy little bee this past week, sampling some of the region's finest treats for upcoming posts. So stay tuned!

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