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.

Suburban Diner

Paramus, NJ

Last October, the owners of Suburban Diner were presented with a challenge: renovate the restaurant to stand out in New Jersey, where diners are found every half mile.

So they went above and beyond to give customers a luxurious diner experience, and it has paid off. Sparkling marble floors and elegant flatware attract a wealth of people looking to escape their abortive sorrows and succumb to sweet temptation.

The food at Suburban Diner is so lascivious it should not be served to anyone under 17. The bacon cheeseburger is in a class of its own, topped with juicy Jersey tomatoes and dripping with barbecue sauce. It’s served with crispy fries—strips of 24-karat Yukon gold. Dessert is layers of cake, pudding, and a caramel sauce that can only be described using expletives.

Despite the upgrades, Suburban does not compromise the basic tenants of diner culture—witty waitresses, endless menu options and a regular crowd at the counter.

Crossroads Eatery

Wayne, NJ

Every morning at 6, the retired regulars file in for breakfast and banter. As the jokes pour out, so does the freshly brewed coffee. Married couple Valerie and Steve run Crossroads together, a venture they embarked on in 1989. A quarter century of history floods the interior, where pictures of celebrities, musicians, athletes and local customers hang on the walls of this classic coffee shop.

Its name is derived from the adjacent train station that shuffles commuters to and from Manhattan on weekdays. Families and tourists pile in on the weekends for the atmosphere and the prices (both of which are reminiscent of another era). The food is prepared right in front of you and each meal comes with a side of genuine conversation. This is what a diner should be.