New York diners have a specific kind of magic to them. They exist in an elusive space-time continuum where there’s no difference between 8am and 8pm. They’re the perfect midnight meeting spots where the only rule is that the man on his fifth coffee refill in the corner is in charge. At a diner, absolutely no one cares who you are, what you do, or why you only ordered a plate of half-sour pickles.
Much like the archetypal diners in Seinfeld, Goodfellas, or The Muppets Take Manhattan, there’s nothing stopping you from pairing your breakfast sandwich with a beer at Golden Diner in Two Bridges. Here you’ll sit next to grandmotherly white lace curtains and an analog clock that says “chicken dinner” in red cursive. Swivel stools face an open kitchen where exactly three people make everything on flat top grills. But unlike the food at whatever comes up when you search “diner near me,” the classics at Golden Diner are updated and unexpected. And in most cases, they make the original versions taste like they’re missing something.
Nearly everything on the menu has Korean, Japanese, Thai, or Chinese influences. Which means your cobb salad will have Thai basil, bean sprouts, and Thai bird chili dressing as well as extra crispy bacon and jammy eggs. It will outshine any salad you eat for weeks. The club sandwich is made with a chicken katsu cutlet and creamy purple cabbage slaw. Eat it once and you’ll react to every other club sandwich the same way you react to your fiscally conservative ex’s LinkedIn updates. And even though you might expect a diner with a locally brewed pilsner and green tea coffee cake to charge too much, there’s only one thing on the menu that costs more than $15.
Our one problem with Golden Diner is that it closes at 11pm. We feel a little emptier inside knowing we’ll never get to have a midnight meeting over pancakes here. But when it is open, no one cares what time it is or how many pickles you eat. So you should feel confident ordering dishes that make no coherent sense together, like you would at any place with sugar packets on the table and a man who’s been sitting in the corner with his coffee and a newspaper since 1979. The only difference is that at this diner, you’ll want to make a plan to eat the breakfast sandwich on the scallion milk bun a week in advance - which is something no one on Seinfeld has ever done.
Your bodega BEC saw you eating this sandwich and now it has intimacy issues. As it rightfully should. This comes on a soft scallion milk bun from a local Chinatown bakery, with melted American, more eggs than we feel comfortable knowing about, and a big crunchy hashbrown.
Another excellent breakfast option that we’d gladly eat any time of day. The beans and crispy potatoes in this burrito make it feel substantial, but not so heavy that it’ll prevent you from solving problems or rescuing cats in trees for the rest of the day.
If you’re here to eat one thing and one thing only, make it this club sandwich. It’s everything you need to know about Golden Diner on one beautiful, green-trimmed ceramic plate. Just make sure you get it with fries and a pickle on the side.
Going back to a normal cobb salad after eating this one would be like learning how to do a perfect arabesque and then being told you have to play tree number four in Swan Lake. It’s light and refreshing, crunchy and saucy, and will inspire you to start putting Thai basil in all of your salads.
This comes with a big fluffy matzoh ball sitting in chicken broth like she owns the place (she does). The broth also has floating carrots, onions, and celery. And now for a sentence we’ve never said before: the celery is the star.
The grilled rye toast in this tuna melt is completely covered in butter, as if it’s preparing for a slip ’n slide during a drought. Inside the sandwich, you’ll find the perfect amount of tuna fish and a handful of salt and vinegar chips that should appear in mayo-based sandwiches more often. We can’t stop thinking about this.
This sandwich will serve as an apology for all the sh*tty vegetarian sandwiches you may have tried in your life. It’s really substantial and filling, with thin grilled tofu skin and most of the vegetables we love so much from the Thai Cobb.
We’ve had inconsistent experiences with this burger. So even though we’d normally recommend any burger medium-rare, ask for this one medium so that the mushroom gochujang sauce, soft bun, and patty don’t feel too mushy together. Having said that, when it’s working, it’s delicious.
This is the only pasta on the menu and they only serve it at dinner. It has thick Taiwanese wheat noodles that look like ribbons, some stray black beans, and a fermented tomato-bean sauce with a slow kick that we love. You won’t realize there are clams in it until about half-way through, because they’re diced and blend into the bread crumbs, tomatoes, and chilis.
Live a little. You’re at a diner after all.