NYC's Best Classic Diners, Ranked By Coffee Price

For two eggs any style, tuna melts, and never-ending refills.
The interior of Joe Junior.

photo credit: Kate Previte

Shiny new diners with natural wine, and luncheonettes serving polished takes on omelets are everywhere right now. But you won't find them here, on this list of classic establishments that have been grilling burgers, slicing pies, and flipping eggs over easy for upwards of 50 years. At these diners, you can pop in for a tuna melt and be out in 15 minutes, or linger for hours with a stack of pancakes. And, unlike the rest of the city, where a cup of coffee now hovers around $5, most of these spots will still keep your mug full for less than the cost of a subway swipe. In order of ascending coffee price (refills always free) these are the best classic diners across New York City.


photo credit: Alex Staniloff


Long Island City

$$$$Perfect For:BreakfastLate Night EatsLunch
Earn 3x points with your sapphire card

Coffee: $1.75

As one of the increasingly rare 24-hour spots left in the city, Court Square Diner in Long Island City is as much a restaurant as it is a public good. Even if you’re not a regular—at least, not yet—you’re bound to feel like one at this shiny, retro-styled joint in the shadow of the 7 train. At any hour, you’ll encounter a cross-section of fellow New Yorkers enjoying a golden-brown belgian waffle or the extremely gooey french onion soup: construction workers in hi-vis vests, subway conductors, two-year-old kids throwing fistfuls of (very good) curly fries from their booster seats, or 22-year-old kids coming in straight from the afterparty.

Coffee: $1.75

On Sunday mornings, you'll find a crowd of Pratt students and people who've just come from church outside of Mike’s Coffee Shop in Clinton Hill. Nobody is really in any sort of line, but things move along quickly, and at some point you’ll make it inside the small corner spot, where you can eat buttery grits and passable hamburgers, in a space that feels like it hasn’t changed much in the last half-century. For quiet communion with french toast in a window booth, come during the week.

Coffee: $2.00

The servers won't be able to tell you exactly what's in The Kitchen Sink, but the giant sundae is the star at this last remaining location of Jahn’s, an ice cream parlor chain that once had outposts as far as Florida. Gather your seven closest friends—the sundae feeds eight—and head to Jackson Heights to find out exactly how many scoops it involves. There's a full menu of diner classics too, so settle into a red leather booth and get a turkey club if you need to pregame.

Coffee: $2.00

Despite a recent change in ownership, this Greenpoint establishment—around since 1945—is still charmingly dilapidated, with scuffed floors and water glasses that are slowly deteriorating. The menu is appropriately enormous, and the food is perfectly basic, with plenty of options in the $15 range. Get a turkey club with strips of chewy bacon, or go for something a little more ambitious, like jumbo shrimp scampi or a full turkey dinner with stuffing and cranberry sauce.

Coffee: $2.00

Scenes from Taxi Driver and Law & Order have been filmed here, but when Hector's isn't busy being a screen star, it's full of people eating diner basics, as well as gyros and Mexican food. This place has been around since the 1940s, selling strong coffee and cigarettes to meatpackers and partygoers—and though it’s no longer open 24 hours for early mornings or late nights, it’s still a useful spot when you need something to eat in the Meatpacking district and don’t want to pay hundreds of dollars.

Coffee: $2.30

Almost everybody at Joe Junior gets the burger, which costs $7.30 and is exactly the kind of burger you’d hope for at a summer cookout if the person hosting knew their way around a grill. At this Gramercy diner, you can watch a cook flip the patty, layer it with cheese, then add bacon from a towering plate that sits precariously above the grill—or get a tuna melt, which we like even more. Joe's is tiny, the tables are taken up by returning customers, and the decor consists mostly of things that guests have left behind: Lost glasses hover above the cash register, and forgotten keys hang on hooks over the counter.

$$$$Perfect For:Breakfast

Coffee: $2.35

At Tremont Diner, there's so much bacon laid over your platter of eggs and home fries, you might wonder if someone made a mistake. But no, the people at this Pelham Bay diner are just exceptionally kind and generous. Around since 1935, it’s a laid-back spot full of locals deciding between an omelet or a tuna melt this time, and multi-generational families who stay for several hours, ordering up large swathes of the long menu. Tremont Diner is right off the Hutchinson, in case you're driving upstate and need a bacon egg and cheese for the road.

Coffee: $2.50

There are diners you go to when hungover—with readily available tables, and eggs that appear in seconds—but on a Saturday in Prospect Park, Tom’s Restaurant is not one of them. There's almost always a line: full of people who are just hungover enough to need a stack of pancakes, but still capable of dressing to impress someone in the next booth over. Come with a group ready to commit to the wait, order the lemon ricotta pancakes and an exceptional egg cream, then take a nap in Prospect Park.

Coffee: $2.75

This classic Astoria diner has been in operation for the better part of a century, and it sure looks its age. We mean that in the best possible way: Jackson Hole is a greasy, gleaming cathedral of neon and chrome. If you just landed at LaGuardia—or have a longish layover and are feeling particularly ambitious about how fast your TSA PreCheck can have you back through security—cozy up in a booth and crank up an appropriately nostalgic tune on the mini tabletop jukebox. You can’t go wrong with one of their massive burgers, the BLT, or the orange creamsicle milkshake, made with fresh-squeezed juice.

Coffee: $3.00

This quintessential Upper West Diner was revamped in 2021, by the same group behind 24-hour spot Coppelia. (They're currently working on reopening Williamsburg’s Kellogg’s Diner). Other than some sourdough and Lavazza on its menu, Old John's still looks and feels like a regular diner, but one that's functioning at peak efficiency. This is ideal when you need a thick burger and a martini before a show at nearby Lincoln Center. Save space for their challah french toast, and homemade ice cream.

Coffee: $3.00

You'll never have to worry about getting a table at this Astoria diner—the largest on this list—even though it's pretty packed on weekend mornings,with families who know their servers, and people who've moved to Connecticut but stop by Neptune whenever they make a trip back into the city. There’s a never-ending menu that doesn’t have avgolemono on it, but the owners are Greek, so they always have it anyway, and you should get some. Thick, scalding, and tart, it's best followed by a gyro platter, or a big plate of eggs and bacon.

Coffee: $3.00

The awning of Grand Canyon reads “home of the 8oz burger,” but we come to this vaguely Southwestern diner in Park Slope for the menu’s Mexican breakfast section. You’ll find a particularly stacked breakfast torta, and chilaquiles smothered with green salsa, then topped with egg and avocado—which will take you about six coffee refills to finish. On Saturday mornings you may also find millennial members of the Park Slope Food Coop pairing huevos rancheros with screwdrivers from the full bar, and someone watching iPad videos in the company of two grilled cheeses.

Coffee: $3.20

Before going viral for their hand-mixed Cokes and egg creams, Lexington Candy Shop—established 1925—was just a place you could go for reliably buttery tuna melts and fluffy pancakes on the Upper East Side. You can still do this, it just might be a bit more crowded. Come alone and sit at the counter with a book, or come with a few people and wait for a table in a room full of posters of movies set in the neighborhood. Apart from the occasional influencer, most regulars look like they've been coming here for 60 years, minimum.

Coffee: $3.25

Naturally, there's a lot of Seinfeld memorabilia inside this Morningside Heights diner, which dates back to the 1940s, but there's also currency from around the world (courtesy Columbia student regulars), $7 mimosas, and deep red booths that are great for gossiping in. The coffee refills are optimized for crunch-time study sessions, and the specials, like a noodle-filled chicken soup, are worth trying.

Coffee: $3.50

The very best diners bite off more than they can chew. Unsatisfied with omelets, burgers, and corned beef hash, they, like Icarus and the founder of Jurassic Park, dare to court danger. Would you like a whole lobster? Or a plate of moussaka? How about some monte cristo french toast with a shiny cap of barely melted cheese? You’ll find all of that and more at this spacious, 24-hour spot with checkered tablecloths and walls featuring photos of mostly-forgotten celebrities. The wifi password is “chelsea1” in case you need it.

Coffee: $3.50

This diner is a Carroll Gardens crossroads, where you can get hairdresser recommendations from your server, or poached eggs before work on a Friday. Kids in high chairs drown french toast in maple syrup before heading stickily off to preschool, and the fresh-squeeze orange juice machine is perpetually whirring. Grab a chrome stool at the counter, order a stack of chocolate chip pancakes, and admire the eclectic decor: a bike hanging on the wall, a clock made out of a frying pan.

Coffee: $3.60

Go to this Noho diner for split pea soup, and to find out which one is Adam Sandler’s regular booth from your chatty server. The Sandman aside, the crowd at Cozy Soup ‘N’ Burger is equal parts NYU students and groups of women sipping cappuccinos while gawking at the size of a slice of banana cream pie. Skip the burger, but get a reuben with pastrami and corned beef, and a milkshake. When we ordered one to share, they brought it out in three glasses, each topped with whipped cream—the sort of gesture that makes us want to return often.

Coffee: $3.75

The—very small—original Viand on the Upper East Side has its charms, but you can have a more leisurely hang at this bigger location on Broadway and 75th. The menu is huge, ranging from omelets to meatloaf, but the most important thing to know is that they roast their turkeys in-house, so this is one diner where you actually want to order the full turkey dinner, or an excellent turkey club. We like this place during the day: if it’s nice out, grab a sidewalk table, where regulars hide behind newspapers with glasses of white wine.

Chase Sapphire Card Ad

Suggested Reading

an everything bagel with lox and cream cheese

The Best Bagels In New York City

It’s easy to find a good bagel in NYC. But a great one? You’ll find those in this guide.

The Best Breakfast In NYC image

Where to go for an early-morning weekday meal in NYC.

The Best Brunch In NYC image

All the New York City restaurants where you should be eating pancakes, eggs, chilaquiles, and more.

Infatuation Logo


2024 © The Infatuation Inc. All Rights Reserved.
The views and opinions expressed on The Infatuation’s site and other platforms are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of (or endorsement by) JPMorgan Chase. The Infatuation and its affiliates assume no responsibility or liability for the content of this site, or any errors or omissions. The Information contained in this site is provided on an "as is" basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy, usefulness or timeliness.


Get it on Google PlayDownload on the App Store