Broadway Lights Diner: Two

Kingston, NY

Your Monday night is going about normally when a friend shows up at your door unannounced. He’s been on the road for days, with an unsatisfied appetite and plenty of stories to share. You need home cooking, a comfy booth, and a good cup of coffee—so you drive to midtown and look for the neon lights.

The waitress offers you water, but you only take coffee, and that makes her smile. It’s empty inside, and the decor is ambitious at best—but it’s the perfect atmosphere for catching up, isolated enough but complete access to the basics—eggs Benedict and a chicken wrap smothered with excessive portions of hollandaise and barbecue sauce, respectively.

You take a caffeine re-up and lay back against the pleather booth, wishing you had the strength to hit the dessert menu.

“Don’t even think about it,” your stomach says. It’s the feeling you wanted to have, the comfort of knowing that for now, everything is all right, and you can keep moving forward, until your next meal.

Ellen’s Stardust Diner

New York, NY

When we asked 11-year-old Sasha to meet us at her favorite diner in her hometown of New York City, she responded without hesitation: Ellen’s Stardust Diner, “home of the world famous singing waitstaff.” At first we were skeptical—it’s glitzy and kitschy and the furthest possible thing from some of the other places we had captured. But soon we realized that if what we’re looking for is a diner that reflects its community, Ellen’s was perfect. A place like this couldn’t exist anywhere but Broadway.

Dor-Stop Restaurant

Dormont, PA

After describing these pancakes (or, as charismatic owner Vicki calls them, “hotcakes”) to a friend upon our return to New York—richly sweet and spicy, dense but melt-in-your-mouth, stuffed with warm gooey cinnamon apples and drenched in butter, so delicious and moist that maple syrup is not a requirement but merely a bonus—she responded that she couldn’t die happy until she tried them. And let us tell you, from experience? She’s not exaggerating.

Tom’s Diner

Pittsburgh, PA

Tom’s is the quintessential Pittsburgh establishment: open all night, connected to a sports bar where at least one Pitt game can usually be seen, and yes, they put French fries on everything, including the sandwiches and gyros (Did you know that was a ‘burgh thing? It was a surprise to us!). But they’re not afraid to try new things, either, says manager Bridget—their huge craft beer selection and experimental new recipes like slow-cooked pot roast and fiery feta sauce is evidence of that.