Diners are, above all, anonymous. Some make better pancakes than others, some have stickier booths than others, and some have more tourists taking photos than regulars with standing orders. But when you walk into a New York City diner, you could pretty much be in any New York City diner.
Except for this one. When you walk into MeMe’s, you could only be at MeMe’s - a Prospect Heights diner that’s not like any other NYC diner.
Sure, there’s a wraparound booth, layer cake in a glass case on the bar, and meatloaf and a patty melt on the menu. But otherwise, MeMe’s just looks like an attractive, slightly retro neighborhood spot, minimally decorated save for some globe lights, potted plants, and a wall full of portraits that seem like they should be at The Whitney. If all that makes it sound serious, you should know that the first thing you’ll receive at MeMe’s is a complimentary bowl of cheese balls. And cheese balls, like endorphins, make you happy.
What really makes MeMe’s a diner isn’t its design. It’s the fact that it’s filled with all different kinds of people. And those people seem, generally, about 65% happier than the average New Yorker, at least while they’re here. That probably has something to do with MeMe’s mission (besides being a great restaurant) - the owners have spoken about their efforts to make the space as inclusive as possible, particularly for the LGBTQ community. The result is a genuinely comfortable, relaxed place we’d recommend to just about anyone.
Like any good diner, MeMe’s also serves food that just about anyone would want to eat. But MeMe’s comfort food tastes better, fresher, and more exciting than the usual patty melt, pancake, or even pickles you’ll find at most diners (even good ones). If you think a fried chicken salad isn’t worth traveling for, then you haven’t had this one. We’ve spent many sad office lunches at the bodega salad counter trying to figure out how to replicate the combination of super-fresh vegetables, perfectly breaded and fried cutlet, and green goddess dressing MeMe’s should sell by the gallon. But when you’re sitting at MeMe’s, you’re not going to want to analyze how they make this food so good. You’re just going to want to enjoy it.
We usually go by the rule that the best diner is the diner that’s closest to you. But MeMe’s is a diner you should go out of your way for. After buying a tub of cheese balls on Amazon.
Olives, carrots, peppers, and cauliflower, pickled and fried. Why don’t more people pickle-then-fry things? Your dinner here should absolutely start with these.
This is not some world-changing take on the patty melt. It’s just a patty melt. A really, really good patty melt. It also comes with a side of the fried potatoes (which normally cost $7), so really you ordering this is just a solid financial strategy.
Just get this salad, OK?
A big sweet potato, sitting in mole and tomatillo sauces and topped with toasted coconut. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you won’t be disappointed with this, but we prefer the protein-centric entrees at MeMe’s.
The fruit changes seasonally, but it doesn’t matter what iteration you find this in - if you’re here at brunch, you’re ordering it. It’s light and fluffy, and the combination of black sesame and lemon make it a pancake you will think about next weekend when you’re laying in bed wishing someone would deliver it to you.
“I can make a fried egg,” you’ve probably said defensively at one point in your life. And then this dish gets put in front of you and you realize you don’t know how to make sh*t. The mix of chili oil, tons of seeds and nuts, yogurt, spicy greens, and fried eggs is fantastic.
That perfect fried chicken from the salad also makes an appearance in carbohydrate form, on top of MeMe’s homemade biscuit. As is the case with everything they bake here, it’s incredibly good. A perfect brunch order here will involve this, the fried eggs, and the dutch baby pancake.
Oh, except in the above ordering instructions, we forgot to include a piece of cake or pie. MeMe’s always has one cake and one pie available, and while they each change regularly, we can say with confidence that it will be the best slice of cake or pie you eat that week/month/maybe year.