One of the Things I Miss

If you look up the word diner on Wikipedia, you’ll find that it is defined as “a small restaurant found predominantly in the Northeastern United States and Midwest, as well as in other parts of the US, Canada, and parts of Western Europe.  However, the kind of diners we all remember from our childhood are fast disappearing from the American landscape.  And that’s a shame.  In the past, a good diner was the focal point of many a small town.  The food was usually what we referred to as “home cooked,” and included such staples as pot roast, meat loaf, corned beef, and other family favorites.  If your mother cooked it, chances are it was also served at the local diner.

Today, when traveling, most of us are forced to eat breakfast or lunch at chain restaurants such as McDonald’s™, Burger King™, Hardy’s™, and Arby’s™.   The only thing in favor of these establishments is their ubiquitousness.  You can’t go anywhere without running into one.  And where there’s one, there are sure to be others.  They sit nestled alongside one another like a murder of crows at every off ramp along every Interstate highway.  And murder is the appropriate term for what they do to food.  The stuff they serve is barely edible (one exception is Chick-Fil-A™, which provides wholesome food at affordable prices).  Sadly, we’ve become so used to what they serve that we accept it because it looks and tastes familiar.  A good diner, on the other hand, is much harder to find, but doing so is usually well worth the effort.

I guess my love of diners goes way back to two such establishments in New Jersey: Rosie’s at the Route 46 Circle in Little Ferry, and Hagler’s in Oradell.  The former was famous for the paper towel commercials shot on its premises, and the latter became famous because NFL legend Bill Parcells frequented it—along with yours truly, who actually knew the Super Bowl winning coach in his youth. Sadly, both diners are long gone.

When traveling through New England about five years ago, we were fortunate to happen upon a real gem, the Littleton Diner, in Littleton New Hampshire.  It doesn’t have the classic “diner look” of stainless steel on the exterior.  But the interior is authentic, and includes a long counter with swiveling stools, and booths with large windows that overlook the main street on which it is situated.  The food was so good that we decided to eat dinner there every night during our four-night stay at a nearby bed and breakfast.

If you’re traveling across the breadth of this land, and you want a good home cooked meal, I urge you to Google a “diner near me,” and point your car in the direction given in the response.  Chances are you won’t be disappointed.  And if you’re in Littleton, New Hampshire, make sure you try the meatloaf at the Littleton Diner.  It rocks!

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About AuthorJoePerroneJr

I am a former professional fly-fishing guide, and I write the Matt Davis Mystery Series, which presently consists of five books: As the Twig is Bent, Opening Day, Twice Bitten, Broken Promises and Deadly Ransom. The series is set in the real town of Roscoe, NY, in the Catskill Mountains, where I guided for ten years. I love fly fishing, movies, cooking (and eating), and music. To learn more about me and my writing, please visit my website at:
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10 Responses to One of the Things I Miss

  1. Dave Hinson says:

    The thing I remember about NY/NJ diners is the HUGE desserts in the glass turntables.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. KiM says:

    I hadn’t noticed the demise of them but just this week I was telling my hubby about when I was a kid and my hand froze to the door handle at the one in upstate NY my family OFTEN frequented. As in first name basis. The waitress of The Black Lantern just came out with warm water and unstuck my hand from the metal. I learned you leave your gloves on until you’re inside! Have you tried Mike’s on Main?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. balroop2013 says:

    I had no idea about ‘Diners’…seem to have gone into the haze of modern chains. Thanks for creating the awareness. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. allenrizzi says:

    We were just talking about diners tonight. I remember them well from my time as a playwright in New York. Many were Greek owned and they were really a novelty for this West Coast kid. I loved them but like the Good Humor Man, they’re pretty much “via col vento.”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Bill Ramsey says:

    In my boyhood town, our diner was “Jimmies.” It is long gone. However, that small town in southwestern PA (about 1,700 souls) still has the popular Pike Street Diner and the nearest fast food franchise is several miles away.

    Liked by 1 person

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