DinerPorn

Sayville Modern Diner

Sayville, NY

The day after Thanksgiving, you relax around the house all morning. Door-busting Black Friday deals aren’t exactly enticing—mostly because you’d have to get out of your pajamas. But when Dad calls and says he took a half-day to take you for lunch at the diner, you throw on a jacket and you’re out the door.

 

The Modern Diner in Sayville is a piece of history. Its retro decor boasts murals depicting ‘50s sock hops, original Lucky Strike magazine ads (Don Draper style), sparkling emerald pleather booths, and worn Formica tables.

As your waitress sets your table, she tells you that you look just like her grandkids— “so handsome!” When you quickly order a basic turkey sandwich, she persuades you to take a few minutes to find something you really want. And she’s totally right—the Reuben panini melt is worth the extra wait.

The fading November sun beams through the blinds, falling over crispy golden fries, bubbling chili, and glistening green pickles. You don’t have your camera, so you snap a few photos with your phone, hoping they capture the unique beauty of this place. Dad pays the bill and you leave a hefty tip for your sassy waitress before heading back out into the cold, full, caffeinated, and cheerful. It’s hard not to be in a place like this.

Broadway Lights Diner

Kingston, NY

Summer’s gone, but your hunger for adventure isn’t. You wake up early Sunday and go for a drive, and on the way through the nearest city you spot a small diner. “Let’s just get something small,” you say.

Inside, it’s exactly what you imagined: floral upholstery, the aroma of coffee, a happy waitress. She tells you to sit wherever you’d like. You nab a booth by the window.

The idea of getting “something small” is quickly abandoned when you scan the tempting specials. You go right for the big players: huevos rancheros and eggs Benedict. The food arrives fast and piping hot, the eggs runny and perfect.

You relax in the booth, watching the city move outside the window, surrounded by bits of conversations from the people around you. Everything is all right.

Ambrosia Diner

Queensbury, NY

You see a line of people waiting inside for a table and you know it’s the weekend at the Ambrosia Diner. Located 20 miles south of Lake George, the Queen of American Lakes, multiple generations come here for the classic American breakfast.

You don’t think twice before ordering—it has to be the Belgian waffle with fresh strawberries, blueberries and whipped cream.

The food arrives and your hands are shaking. You’re not sure if it’s from the coffee or the excitement. The first bite is always the best.

Selena’s Diner

Tannersville, NY

Often, diners have walls filled with regional trinkets, souvenirs, and photos signed by national or local celebrities. Diners collect the small moments in your life—your old friends visiting town, your neighbors having breakfast, your friends after that wild night—and put them on display like gold medals. Individually, these everyday moments lack context, but together, they represent a much greater concept: at the diner, everyone is family.

Selena’s Diner has a history and a family all its own. Decades ago, the old dining car was transported from New Jersey up the meandering hills of Route 23A, over Kaaterskill Falls, to its current location just outside Tannersville. The diner is technically named “Nick and Selena’s Diner” after the owner and his daughter (coincidentally cousins of our friends at the Village Diner in Saugerties!).

The manager, Amanda, greets you with a snarky-yet-charming hello. As she serves you breakfast, she talks about the town and its people and asks you about yourself. You realize that her duty is not only to serve great food, but also to offer free therapy to everyone in town—and you’ve talked so long that it’s now lunchtime.

This turns out to be a blessing in disguise, because they also serve pizza. Amanda convinces you to order “The Selena,” which is loaded with chicken, bacon, cheddar cheese, and dollops of fresh ricotta.

As you say goodbye, you turn toward the photos on the wall, and you know that it’s okay to leave. People may come and go, but the memories remain preserved.