Artisan mustard shops have replaced corner stores. Soulless apartment buildings have taken over the waterfront, and that watch repair store on the corner is now a pop-up market selling CBD-infused soda. In a city that’s constantly evolving, for better or worse, it’s getting harder and harder to find the kinds of places that truly evoke a sense of history and belonging. Not to say that a fun-size restaurant selling dumpling popsicles and pickle-flavored ice cream isn’t worth visiting, but its ephemeral nature is a far cry from authenticity.
To get that, you have to go to a diner. Not a revamped diner in an airstream serving shakshuka and deconstructed cinnamon buns; I’m talking about a real diner, the ones with weathered vinyl booths, thick porcelain mugs, regulars… and most importantly, a menu of undisputed classics.
So to help you find that reliable slice of Americana in the big city, I’ve put together a list of some of the best diners in Brooklyn.
Mike’s Coffee Shop
Located in the heart of Clinton Hill, caddy corner to Pratt Institute, Mike’s Coffee Shop has been a neighborhood staple for over 60 years. Its neon sign, made by a former Pratt student, is a welcoming beacon for bacon lovers and pancake devotees alike. Come on the weekend and you’ll surely see a few people standing out front eagerly waiting to be called inside. In true diner fashion, the owner can usually be spotted upfront near the register chatting to locals and greeting newcomers. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a booth, arguably the most coveted of seats at any diner. Mike’s hasn’t changed much over the years and that kind of atmosphere is exactly why you should go. Just don’t forget to take out some cash beforehand.
Cobble Hill Coffee Shop
In a neighborhood where a one bedroom apartment can break the $3,000 mark, Cobble Hill Coffee Shop is one of the last few remaining bastions of a bygone era. The staff seems genuinely pleased to seat you, the prices aren’t sweat inducing, and the place exudes a real old-school Brooklyn charm. Whether you’re in the mood for ice cream topped Belgian waffles or a classic western omelette, you can rest assured that you will find something to satisfy your appetite. As for the coffee, just expect to be buzzing after the fourth refill. All in all, if you’re in the area and looking to scratch that diner itch, this is the place for you. An easy shoo-in for the best diners in Brooklyn.
Tina’s Place, Bushwick
If you’ve ever dropped $70 on brunch and thought to yourself, “is this real life?” you’re not alone. Fortunately, Tina’s Place is there for you. Service is friendly, the food is exactly what you’d expect (greasy and delicious), and the prices will leave you thinking you just went back in time. Seriously, pancakes and side of sausage will set you back a mere $5. So the next time you want to go out for breakfast in Bushwick, pass on the bone marrow egg and cheese sandwich, and make your way to Tina’s Place. As you probably guessed, this is a cash only establishment.
Tom’s Restaurant, Prospect Heights
Opened since 1936, Tom’s Restaurant is a true Brooklyn institution. Being one of the oldest diners in the borough, it gets quite a few visitors on the weekend. That being said, even as you wait in line, you can enjoy some complimentary coffee and cookies. The decor is a hodge-podge of decorations spanning the decades, the portions are large, and the coffee is hot. If you really want to take a trip back in time, order a lime-rickey or an egg-cream to go with your hearty meal.
7th Ave Donuts & Diner, Park Slope
Open since 1977, this low-key diner is a favorite of long-time Park Slopers. While the food isn’t going to win any awards in the near future, it will definitely soak up all that booze from the night before. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy a pink sprinkled donut for dessert? And if you find yourself with a hankering for a plate of fries at 3AM, you can always pull up a stool at this 24 hour Greasy-Spoon.
Anopoli, Bay Ridge – Delicious Ice Cream Sundaes
Kellogg’s, Williamsburg – A late night favorite with classic diner design
Happy Days Diner, Brooklyn Heights – Amazing sparkly blue booths