Cook Room

Middle Island, NY

Drive down Route 25 on a chilly Sunday morning and you’ll pass a crowd of cars spilling out of a lot and parking on both sides of the road—they’re all there for The Cook Room. Past the old-school exterior, you’ll find hot coffee, warm waitresses, and fluffy, just-the-right-amount-of-sweet red velvet pancakes drenched in cream cheese frosting and maple syrup.

The cozy family-run diner has a loyal following, and once you’re welcomed in by Annie, the owner, and her team, you’ll understand completely. The weathered sign out front reads “Long Island’s Hidden Gem.” We have to agree.

The Cook Room did not gain its following on red velvet pancakes alone. The menu is full of tantalizing stick-to-your-ribs options, and the best part is that every bit of it is homemade—from the hand-pressed french fries to the orange sweet tea to the addicting gravy to the cheddar biscuits that made their egg slider one of the best egg sandwiches we’ve ever had (and as you can probably imagine, we’ve eaten a LOT of egg sandwiches).

Eating here is like going to brunch at your sassy great aunt’s house, and we’re pretty sure that’s exactly what they were going for.

New POK Diner

“POK Diner,” the sign outside reads. Inside, the tiled walls and laminate countertops sparkle like a 1950s toothpaste commercial.

“What does POK mean?” I ask the owner.

“Poughkeepsie!” he snaps in a thick Greek accent. The waitress tells me his name is Nico, and that he bought the Poughkeepsie Diner (now known as the “New” Poughkeepsie Diner) almost 30 years ago.

Together, Nico Koroxenos and Ritu Bedi transformed the old-fashioned establishment into a community gem that caters to a motley crew of daily regulars, fostering the banter between customers that is so rarely found in modern restaurants. You won’t get away with much here; you’d better know what you’re talking about, because sitting in the booth next to you could be the city judge.

The style and attitude of 20th century American diner culture is alive and well in Poughkeepsie. Or POK, if you will.