The 15 Best Diners in NYC for That Timeless Feel
What’s not to love about the best diners in NYC? The hustle and bustle of a busy city, music playing from a distant jukebox and the smell of freshly brewed coffee are enough to summon any passerby into their doors. The best diners in NYC give off an iconic American feel that can make anyone feel nostalgic, plus they’re known to serve up some incredible comfort foods and cozy vibes.
Whether you’re looking for classic burgers and shakes, homestyle steaks and mashed potatoes or a hearty breakfast with a twist, it’s hard to beat a traditional diner. Check out our pick for the 15 best diners in NYC to discover your new go-to place for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Jump to Section
Find the Best Diners in NYC
There are so many wonderful diners and restaurants in NYC, it would be impossible to list them all. They say experience is the best teacher, so discover the best diners in NYC by signing up for a food tour. With food tours in NYC, you’ll be able to explore the city, taste new foods and learn about the rich history behind many of New York’s most famous eateries.
Best Diners in NYC
1. Jackson Hole
Its name might make you think of a hole-in-the-wall type of restaurant, but Jackson Hole is actually one of the best diners in NYC for traditional American food in a snappy retro atmosphere. Established in 1972, Jackson Hole is located in Astoria Heights near the LaGuardia airport. The diner, which was briefly featured in the hit movie Goodfellas, also has several spin-off burger restaurants located all around New York City.
From the moment you spot the shiny aluminum exterior and intricate neon signs, you’ll be charmed by Jackson Hole. Inside, you’ll find classic checkerboard tiles, vinyl seating, a jukebox, a life-size Betty Boop and more. Jackson Hole is one of the best diners in New York for mid-century nostalgia.
What to Order
If you're looking for the best NYC burger, some would say Jackson Hole is where you'll get it. This is the place to go if you enjoy a thick, juicy beef patty with extra American cheese and all the fixin’s. Pair your lunch or dinner with a classic Jackson Hole milkshake made with vanilla ice cream, banana, peanut butter and caramel sauce.
Jackson Hole | 69-35 Astoria Blvd., Jackson Heights, NY 11370 | $$
2. Times Square Diner & Grill
Times Square Diner & Grill, located in the Theater District, is a beautiful modern diner serving old-school classics. Famed for their brunch and breakfast fare, Times Square Diner is one of the best diners in NYC to greet the day with friends or fuel up for a big day in the Big Apple.
Times Square Diner offers a classy experience with an art deco vibe, setting them apart from the other best diners in NYC. Tall, teal ceilings feature curved architecture and rows of hanging pendant light bulbs. The restaurant also features a lovely full bar, booth seating and dark subway tiles to set an understated yet glamorous mood, perfect for a filling brunch.
What to Order
Times Square Diner serves three meals a day, but you won’t want to miss out on their breakfast options like stacked French toast, buttermilk pancakes and omelettes. The classic eggs Benedict is a popular choice here, served with hollandaise sauce, ham, English muffin and hash potatoes.
Times Square Diner & Grill | 807 Eighth Ave., New York, NY 10019 | $$
3. Waverly Diner
A favorite local spot since 1980, Waverly Diner is located in the West Village and is one of the best places to eat in NYC for a classic hearty breakfast or burger. Fans have flocked to Waverly Diner for decades because of its cozy hometown atmosphere and extensive menu options. This is one of the best diners in NYC if you’re looking to avoid the overpriced and overdressed brunch crowds and dig into a tasty homestyle meal.
Waverly Diner feels at once retro and timeless. Customers say they’ve had the same cozy wood walls, red leather booths and antique light fixtures for years, and that the vibe is sure to make anyone feel at home, no matter where you’re from. This is one of the best diners in NYC for everyday meals that’ll never grow old.
What to Order
Waverly Diner has an impressive 24-page menu of all the classic best breakfast ideas, including dozens of omelette options sure to please any savory breakfast lover. Try the classic Western omelette with green peppers, onions and ham or a Canadian bacon and Swiss omelette served with hash browns and toast.
Waverly Diner | 385 Sixth Ave., New York, NY 10014 | $$
Veselka is a very well-known East Village restaurant serving traditional Ukrainian soul food in a classic diner atmosphere. Here you can find a welcome break from your typical burger and fries joint and instead indulge in dishes like pierogi, holubtsi and chicken schnitzel. Open for three meals a day, Veselka is one of the best diners in NYC that thinks outside the red, white and blue box.
Veselka feels much like any of the other best diners in NYC, with ample tables and chairs, checkered floors, a laminated menu and Coca-Cola memorabilia. However, Veselka is also elaborately decorated with Ukrainian artwork, trinkets and artifacts. This diner truly celebrates America’s melting pot experience and encourages visitors to enjoy and learn about Ukrainian culture.
What to Order
Holubtsi, or stuffed cabbage, is a go-to dish here, stuffed with tasty butternut squash and rice or beef, pork and rice, and topped with savory mushroom gravy or tomato sauce. Veselka also offers a special “Stand With Ukraine” bowl, the proceeds of which are donated to Ukrainian relief efforts.
Veselka | 115 Delancey St., New York, NY 10002 | $$
5. B&H Dairy
Ask anyone about the best diners in NYC, and you’re bound to hear B&H Dairy mentioned a few times. This quaint restaurant opened in 1938 and has reigned as one of the best and only kosher vegetarian restaurants for decades. Pop into B&H Dairy any time you’re craving comforting deli foods like challah bread, matzo ball soup, pierogies and tuna melt sandwiches.
B&H Dairy is a small restaurant with a few wood tables and chairs, limited dine-in bar seating and a small covered patio area. This is one of the best diners in NYC to enjoy a delicious, no-frills meal with a friend or take a quick lunch to go before exploring other things to do in NYC.
What to Order
You may have tried French toast, but what about French toast made with challah bread? B&H Dairy gives this classic breakfast item a twist that will warm you from the inside out on the chilliest of New York days. If you’re more in a savory mood, grab the hot and crispy tuna melt or a cup of their fresh matzo ball soup.
B&H Dairy | 127 Second Ave., New York, NY 10003 | $
Tom’s isn’t just one of the best diners in NYC, it’s also a pop culture icon. This restaurant in Prospect Heights has served as the muse for the song “Tom’s Diner” by Suzanne Vega and the beloved exterior filming location for early episodes of Seinfeld. Besides being a must-see famous diner in New York, Tom’s is also a great place to enjoy reliable American fare, breakfast and brunch.
As you’re “waiting for the man to pour the coffee,” take a look around Tom’s eccentric and eclectic dining room. Artwork, news clippings, stained glass windows, checkered floors and vintage wood-paneled walls surround this cozy establishment. This so-called “greasy spoon” is one of the best diners in NYC to enjoy a casual, comforting lunch or dinner with friends. Tom’s does not accept credit or debit cards, so be sure to bring plenty of cash!
What to Order
If you’re eating at Tom’s, you have to order a cup of their fresh coffee. Besides a great cup of coffee, Tom’s also serves some incredible pancake varieties, including unique options like lemon ricotta, mango walnut and cranberry sweet corn. Running late? No worries; Tom’s serves breakfast all day.
Tom’s | 782 Washington Ave., New York, NY 11238 | $$
7. Johny’s Luncheonette
Having served in the city for over 20 years, Johny’s Luncheonette is arguably the best diner in NYC for a quick, no-frills bite to eat. Located in Chelsea, Johny’s Luncheonette serves a variety of hearty breakfast plates, sandwiches, wraps and salads at modest prices. If you forgot to pack a lunch for the office or you’re craving cold cuts after a long walk in the park, Johny’s Luncheonette is the place to go.
Johny’s Luncheonette may seem unassuming from the outside, but this narrow alleyway kitchen is one of the best diners in NYC that remains a local secret. Inside, you’ll find tin ceilings, patterned tile floors and a long bar where you can watch the cooks grill up fresh foods. Johny’s has limited barstool seating and a few small tables, so it's great for enjoying a solo lunch or grabbing a sandwich to go.
What to Order
Johny’s is one of the best diners in NYC for a classic grilled cheese sandwich with tomato, bacon or ham, perfectly gooey cheese and crispy browned edges. Pair your sandwich with a side of onion rings, french fries or coleslaw and a house lemonade for a delicious homestyle lunch.
Johny’s Luncheonette | 124 W. 25th St., New York, NY 10001 | $$
We didn’t forget to include the name of this one! Simply called “Diner,” this best diner in NYC serves upscale takes on crowd favorites in South Williamsburg, including grass-fed beef burgers, frittatas, yogurt parfait and cocktails. This is the best diner in NYC to go to when you’re craving a step up from your neighborhood greasy spoon.
Diner has a very unique interior that feels like an old converted subway car. Aluminum and vinyl barstools, bench booths, vintage penny tiling and a full bar will greet you as soon as you walk in the door. The restaurant is at once cool and classic, especially in the evening when it’s lit up with candles and perfect for a unique date night in NYC.
What to Order
At brunch, go for a tasty egg sandwich with scrambled eggs, havarti and Calabrian chili aioli or brioche French toast with whipped butter, rhubarb jam and maple syrup. If you’re craving dinner at Diner, you can’t go wrong with a classic grass-fed burger with white cheddar, pickled onions and lettuce on a potato roll.
Diner | 85 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY 11249 | $$
9. Mom’s Kitchen & Bar
Mac and cheese, mocktails and milkshakes galore — Mom’s Kitchen & Bar is the place to go for homestyle comfort foods with a grown-up twist. Mom’s Kitchen & Bar is one of the best diners in NYC to find fun and funky dishes like chicken and waffles, the “pancake burrito,” and infamous candy-covered cocktails. With two locations in Astoria and Midtown, there’s no excuse not to visit your Mom’s.
While this best diner in NYC was established relatively recently, Mom’s Kitchen & Bar gives off decidedly retro vibes. Both locations feature funky zigzag tile, colorful artwork and quirky décor like plastic flamingos and vintage trinkets. This is the best diner in NYC to meet up with friends who are forever young at heart.
What to Order
The pancake burrito is like the breakfast food of dreams, and you can only find it at one of the best diners in NYC: Mom’s. Picture scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese, sausage and bacon rolled into a large buttermilk pancake wrap and drizzled with generous amounts of maple syrup. Be sure to indulge in a giant boozy milkshake or decadent mocktail here too!
Mom’s Kitchen & Bar | Multiple Locations | $$
10. La Bonbonniere
Out of all the West Village restaurants, La Bonbonniere is one of the best diners in NYC to enjoy a hot and hearty breakfast and a casual, laid-back atmosphere. Despite being located in a trendy and popular area, La Bonbonniere has great prices, with many dishes falling below $10, ensuring nobody has to walk away while still feeling hungry.
La Bonbonniere is one of the best diners in NYC for lifting your mood on a cold, groggy morning. Inside the dining room, you’ll find retro red barstools, chairs and tables, and the walls are decorated with vintage art, photographs and news clippings. La Bonbonniere is a casual homestyle diner through and through, with a relaxed atmosphere and food that impresses.
What to Order
La Bonbonniere has an extensive menu, so feel free to browse their options, but if you are looking for a go-to dish, choose the classic two-egg breakfast served your way with ham, bacon or sausage. Paired with a fresh cup of joe, this plate from one of the best diners in NYC is sure to fuel you through the busiest of days.
La Bonbonniere | 28 Eighth Ave., New York, NY 10014 | $
11. Old John’s Diner
Old John’s Diner is one of the best diners in NYC to relax and unwind after attending a thrilling play or performance. Old John’s Diner was originally established in 1951 but relocated to its current residence in 1998. Although the restaurant has moved, reopened and renovated since its birth, Old John’s has always kept its reputation as one of the best diners in NYC.
Following a temporary closure during the Covid-19 pandemic, Old John’s Diner was renovated by a former employee, who made it his mission to preserve as much of the old vintage charm as possible while giving the restaurant a refreshing facelift. The result is a bright and charming dining room with white walls, a full bar, leather booths and art deco details. This is the best diner in NYC to bring friends or relatives for a cheery and nostalgic dinner.
What to Order
There’s nothing better than your own mom’s meatloaf, but the “My Momma’s Meatloaf” at Old John’s Diner certainly comes close. This dinner plate includes two generous slices of meatloaf served with mashed potatoes, French beans, brown butter, almonds and brown gravy. After dinner, satisfy your sweet tooth with an ice cream sundae or sour cherry sorbet. For breakfast or brunch, the avocado toast is a don't-miss.
Old John’s Diner | 148 W. 67th St., New York, NY 10023 | $$
12. Golden Diner
If you’re looking for the best diner in NYC in the Two Bridges area, head to Golden Diner. This highly praised restaurant serves traditional diner fare and some unexpected and Asian-inspired options, like vegan nachos, lemongrass avocado toast and Thai Cobb salad. While their menu may be unique, the restaurant itself gives off the same classic American diner vibe we’ve all come to know and love.
Golden Diner’s dining room is about as classic, warm and cozy as you can get. Surrounded by clean white walls, exposed brick and large front windows, Golden Diner has several retro barstools, booths and tables, making it one of the best diners in NYC for accommodating you and a date or a small group of friends.
What to Order
The chicken katsu club sandwich is a very popular option here, with chicken cuts, bacon, lettuce, tomato, red cabbage slaw and Bull-Dog Tonkatsu sauce served with fries. The Thai Cobb salad is a hit, too, for something on the lighter side. If you’re more in a breakfast mood, try the Chinatown egg and cheese sando with scrambled eggs, American cheese and a hash brown patty on a sesame scallion seed bun.
Golden Diner | 123 Madison St., New York, NY 10002 | $$
13. Lexington Candy Shop
Lexington Candy Shop is one of the best diners in NYC for that “time capsule” experience. Since 1925, this iconic soda fountain shop and famous diner in New York has been serving up delicious treats to locals and tourists, and they’re just as relevant today as they were almost one hundred years ago.
Hardly touched in the last century, Lexington Candy Shop still features a lengthy soda bar and several green vinyl booths, making them one of the best diners in NYC for that “old New York” vibe. In the big store window, the shop displays vintage soda bottles, and many of the milkshake and ice cream machines look the same as they did back then. If you’ve got older friends or relatives, they’re sure to get a kick out of this time capsule restaurant.
What to Order
Lexington Candy Shop serves delightful lunch and breakfast options, but if you’re going to make the journey out to this Upper East Side restaurant, you have to order a special beverage. Try an ice cream soda, creamsicle freeze or malted milkshake made with real malt powder. This is the best diner in NYC for old-fashioned beverages that are sure to bring back memories.
Lexington Candy Shop | 1226 Lexington Ave., New York, NY 10028 | $$
14. Clark’s Restaurant
If you’re hunting for the best diners in NYC’s Brooklyn area, you’re bound to hear about Clark’s Restaurant. Clark’s has been serving patrons from Brooklyn and beyond for over 30 years. Fans of Clark’s rave about their hefty portions, friendly staff and old-timey New York atmosphere.
Clark’s captures that old New York feel with dark wood beadboard, big glass windows, vaulted ceilings and live plants. Shades of red, brown and beige create a warm, cozy environment perfect for gently easing you into the day or winding down with a comforting dinner. With ample indoor and outdoor seating available, this is the best diner in NYC to bring a small group for a wholesome and filling brunch.
What to Order
Clark’s has an impressive range of breakfast, lunch and dinner options, but one of their most famous dishes is their classic eggs Benedict with poached eggs, hollandaise, Canadian bacon and an English muffin. Pair your breakfast with a macchiato, Americano or iced caramel mocha for the best morning ever.
Clark’s Restaurant | 80 Clark St., Brooklyn, NY 11201 | $$
15. Grand Canyon Restaurant
If you’re ready to take a break from your typical NYC foods, grab a bite from south of the border at Grand Canyon Restaurant, one of the best diners in New York. Grand Canyon Restaurant in Brooklyn Heights serves your favorite American diner foods, but many of them with a Southwestern or Mexican flair, like scrambled eggs with chorizo, chilaquiles or a Montague sandwich.
Much like their menu, Grand Canyon Restaurant’s dining room is your classic American-style space, with touches of Mexican and South American décor. Inside, you’ll find a full wine bar, barstools, wood tables and wall art by Mexican artists. This is among the best diners in NYC to fuel up for a busy day or wind down with a casual dinner.
What to Order
Cure your morning grogginess at the best diner in NYC with a big plate of huevos rancheros, two eggs over medium with fried corn tortillas, refried black beans, rice, sauce, sour cream and cotija cheese, and optional avocado, chorizo, steak or chicken. Alternatively, try a Western breakfast wrap with eggs, ham, green peppers, onion and cheese. And if you somehow have room left over, grab a slice of cheesecake!
Grand Canyon Restaurant | 143 Montague St., Brooklyn, NY 11201 | $$
The best diners in NYC do more than just serve up delicious meals; they’re also icons of their communities and essential places to relax and absorb the New York cultural experience. Whether you’re craving a fresh cup of coffee, a quick and tasty lunch or just a few minutes to rest your feet, you can trust that the best diners in NYC will have everything you need and more.
For even more ways to explore NYC and beyond, check out other experiences happening on Cozymeal.