Besides the Shore, Springsteen, and Porkroll, New Jersey is known for one other industry in which they’ve basically cornered the market – Diners! As a child growing up in Middlesex County, I’ve had many-a-meals at such establishments across all of Central Jersey. So, for this post, I decided I’d dish out my opinions on my top-five diners in the area. Keep in mind, these are my opinions, not any formal ranking by any professional food critic.
1. Park Ave Diner – South Plainfield, NJ
Park Ave Diner front view. Taken from diner’s website.
The good old Park Ave Diner is, well, really not that old. I remember coming here as a kid with my father back when it was called Cafe Everest and had a WAY different look to it, outside and inside. A few years ago, the diner was bought and the new owner renovated and revamped the place to make it what it is today. While The Park Ave Diner is a newer contender in the diner industry, but it still serves all those classic diner staples as well as some really cool specials. Every time I come in here, I always take a look at the specials they’re offering that day, and I can always find one that fits my liking. They also do an excellent job on pancakes and their cheddar and broccoli bites have become a favorite of mine. You can even buy beer here, which is something you normally can’t do at too many diners in the area.
2. Scotchwood Diner – Scotch Plains, NJ
Scotchwood Diner seen from Route 22. Image taken from panoramio.com.
Scotchwood Diner is a place I’ve gone to many times throughout my life. I’ve always looked forward to trips here because this diner has a really cool old-time look to it without looking decrepit or run-down. The menu item I remember most vividly sticking out in my mind is the seafood bisque soup they serve on some days. I really hope that soup is still around! Either way, their food doesn’t deviate too far off classic diner foods, but the quality is always good. The coolest part of this place might be the personal jukeboxes at every table. You’ll be sure to find some great classic rock tunes in their song selections.
3. All Seasons Diner – Eatontown, NJ
All Seasons Diner interior. Image taken from Asbury Park Press.
All Seasons Diner is located right across Route 36 from the Monmouth Mall and is about a five-to-ten minute drive from the beach. This diner is seriously cool, due in part to its interior. Just look at the lit-up glass dividers everywhere, and the layered ceiling lights going down the center of the room. It creates a very modern atmosphere to complement its classic diner food. I’ve enjoyed many different menu items here and the specials are always intriguing. For those of you taking a trip down to the shore this summer, this place provides a great meal option for anyone. The only complaint I have about this place is that it’s one of the few diners I’ve been to that isn’t 24-hour.
4. Fountainbleau Diner – South Plainfield/Piscataway, NJ
Fountainbleau Diner exterior seen from Stelton Road. Image taken from diner’s website.
Fountainbleau is another great diner in the Middlesex County area on Stelton Road right by Rt 287. It’s in one of those neighborhoods where you can’t tell whether you’re in South Plainfield or Piscataway, which is a common occurrence in that area. It’s also not too far outside the Rutgers New Brunswick neighborhood either. The one thing I like the most about this place is their coffee. While most diner coffees all taste the same for the most part, this place has an especially tasty coffee if you take yours light and sweet.
5. Menlo Park Diner – Edison, NJ
Menlo Park Diner exterior seen from Route 1. Image taken from nj.com.
Ah, Menlo Park Diner. It’s situated on the Route 1 roadside right next to the Menlo Park Mall. On on side of the lot, there’s a giant commercial complex, on the other side, there’s a park. It’s a diner situated between two different environments, but for me, it was always a cool place to go when I was a high school mallrat. If you want to know what a real classic, chromed-out diner looks like, look no further! This place is as classic as a diner gets.