If you spend enough time in New York, particularly on the island that is long, you’ll soon find out that people love diners. Actually, love isn’t even a strong enough term to describe the phenomenon. Whatever emotion is stronger than love (creepy stalkerish obsession?) is how New Yorkers feel about their diners.
In fact, I will go so far as to say:
1) I have never met a New Yorker that doesn’t love diners; and
2) I have never been to a diner that I have liked.
Now, before I get into my highly logical and surprisingly compelling argument against diners, let me outline the signs that you should look for to determine if you’re in a real NY diner.
A real NY diner:
• Is usually named after the town that it preys on (or has some variation of “coach” or “coachman” in the name);
• Has more neon trim on the exterior than an Iroc-Z;
• Has at least three of the following items in the waiting area: biorhythm machine; stuffed animal crane game; Mike and Ike vending machine; local pennysavers/want ads; that weird donate-a-quarter to Jerry’s kids cardboard thing; a confused old person; vinyl bench seats (with a confused old person); signs about clothing requirements; more chintzy stuff like this;
• Has a menu that is too big (both figuratively and literally), has too many items on it and is sticky from syrup (I sure hope that’s syrup); and
• Has mini-juke boxes at the booths;
So, why do I hate NY diners?
1) Why bother serve 300 menu items when you can’t get any of them right? Focus, people. Don’t serve breakfast all day if you’re not even good at making it in the morning;
2) They will never substitute anything on the menu. Don’t like hash browns? Too bad. Want a side of mayo? That’ll cost you;
3) The service, atmosphere and food are all always bad. It’s the trifecta, every single time.
4) They’re surprisingly expensive to eat at and they pull that “4 oz. of OJ for $4” nonsense;
5)You always have to pay at the register up front and they act like a Boston cabbie if you pull out a credit card; and
They’re secretly Greek restaurants. And Greek restaurants are terrible.
That’s right, Zorba, I figured out your little scam. NY diners are really just Greek restaurants in disguise.
Look, I totally respect the fact that the Greeks figured out that people don’t like their food so they created diners in New York (and House of Pizzas in New England). It was a savvy move, as Greek food is terrible. To whit:
• Greek food uses the worst part of the grape (leaf)
• Greek food features the most disgusting olive (kalamata)
• Greek food always highlights the worst cheese (feta)
• Greek food has plenty of the worst dough (phyllo)
All of the “famous” Greek dishes – spanikopita, tzatziki, moussaka, etc. are awful. Have you ever heard someone say: “I’d kill for some moussaka right now!” No, you haven’t. Do you know why? Because no one in the history of the world has ever said those words. People would rather eat Vietnamese pho and even the pho chef doesn’t know what’s in that big bowl of scary.
So, now you know. NY diners suck because they’re really Greek restaurants and Greek food sucks.
The secret is out.