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Posts from the ‘diners’ Category

Kitchenette: A Tribeca Diner with Mama’s Kitchen Style

Kitchenette is just like your mother’s 1950s American kitchen, on steroids. Pink polkadots and yellow curlycues adorn the walls otherwise in need of a coat of fresh paint; trays upon trays of homemade goodies from sloppily frosted cupcakes to animal-shaped cookies to layer cakes, mini meringues, and pies are stacked at the front door for all passersby to ogle; a kitchen of short-order cooks bustles, churning out comfort food staples from waffles and pancakes to mac n’ cheese, burgers, and cold chicken cutlet sandwiches. The brainchild of two women who formed a cooking and catering partnership 16 years ago, Kitchenette is what a New York diner would look like if crossed with pastry shop and infused with a woman’s touch.
The narrow railroad space has a few refurbished-doors-cum-tables in the window, an impressive pastry array by the door, a few shabby stools for solo diners at the coffee machine and cash register, and a back room near the kitchen with tables for groups. Everything is more than a bit run-down, but in a charming sort of way. The polkadots are a bit faded; the tables a bit chipped, a little off-kilter. This isn’t a spot for foodies and fanatics or for those seeking the newest spot and chasing trends; this is the closest New York is going to get to a small-town diner, just off the highway. It’s nostalgic and comfortable, cozy and cute.
The grub is straight-forward American comfort food, served on large plates in big portions. What’s refreshing though about Kitchenette is that the food is just really good; it’s not too greasy, though greasy enough to please the hungover; the ingredients are fresh, showcasing everything from fluffy artisan bread to crisp vegetables and bright juicy fruits; the omelettes are fluffy, the biscuits buttery, the grilled cheese utterly oozing cheese, the burgers fat and flavorful. With a shockingly extensive menu and breakfast until 4:30pm, there’s surely something here for everyone, and it all comes at a refreshingly un-New York prices.
Kitchenette is a charming diner-style eatery in a distinctly diner-free neighborhood, and perhaps, this is what makes it so popular. Sure, it’s a little shabby, but who cares when such great comfort food comes so cheap? (Imagine: an entire filling meal for just around $10? Excellent.)
Perfect For: budgeters, those seeking greasy spoons, all-day breakfast, sweet teeth, group lunches, mother/daughter luncheons, lone diners

Kitchenette on Urbanspoon

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La Bonbonniere: A Diner, West Village-Style

Hudson Street hides a gem, an amazingly cheap, casual, cash-only gem. La Bonbonniere is the size of my bedroom, a long narrow strip of dressed-down Americana. The name gives it some French penache, but La Bonbonniere is really nothing but an American diner with a fancy zipcode.

One room with floor-to-ceiling windows staring off onto Hudson Street where it becomes 8th Avenue, La Bonbonniere seats no more than 34 inside with a few tables on the sidewalk. The plain beige walls are peppered with newspaper clippings, tacked-on American flags, postcards, hand-written letters, old movie posters, and other such random Refrigerator front knick-knacks. Delivery orders come through the old Verizon pay phone stuck to the far wall. Slowly-circling ceiling fans, blue vinyl bar stools under the off-kilter Formica counter, mis-matched faux-wood tables, and plastic flowers stuck to windows complete the diner dive vibe that makes La Bonbonniere so unique in the otherwise snazzy West Village neighborhood.

Short-order cooks prepare classic American comfort food lightening fast. Scrambled eggs, bacon, and white toast come out in less than 5 minutes, piping hot and well-seasoned; oatmeal is thick, heavy and mealy, served in a salad bowl, loaded with brown sugar; omelets, of which there are many offered, come fluffy and stuffed with whatever you want, from the unusual (potato chips, cottage cheese) to the typical (peppers, sausage, onions, tomatoes); burgers and sausages cook in fat on the sizzling griddle, open for all to see behind the counter. The food at La Bonbonniere is greasy and simple, the ideal comfort food for hungover mornings and guilty TV dinners.

Impossibly cheap, La Bonbonniere is wallet-friendly and gut-busting. It’s comfortable, nostalgic for simpler days. As an attitude and pretention-free haven in a neighborhood known for its haute restaurants, La Bonbonniere attracts not only those looking to save a few bucks but also those hiding from sight, most notably celebrities the likes of Kate Winslet, local Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Julia Stiles.

Perfect For: greasy breakfast, cheap eats, quick bites solo at the counter, hangover cures

La Bonbonniere on Urbanspoon

Bus Stop Cafe: West Village’s Version of a Truck Stop

The Bus Stop Cafe transports you out of the ever-chic West Village and into a small town anywhere in America. It’s a relic, in a charming way, of a slower lifestyle (a cheaper one too) where breakfast was enjoyed every morning and food was simple and tasty, without fancy adornments. The polar opposite of ‘relaxed’ and ‘casual’ hot spots like Braeburn, Cafe Cluny, dell’anima, and Bistro de la Gare, the diner-like Bus Stop Cafe remains a go-to favorite of the neighborhood.

Wonder why it’s called the Bus Stop Cafe? I’ll give you one guess.

Bingo, it’s prime location is just outside a bus stop, at the busy and bustling intersection of Bleecker, 8th Ave, and Hudson. The restaurant is small and crowded with boothes and tables helter-skelter and squished into unusual spaces; in clement weather, limited outside seating is available for a few lucky diners. The theme? Diner mashed with truck stop mashed with coffee shop. The look is simple, unadorned, and cozy, slightly kitschy in a charming way, and just plain comfortable – familiar to those from small towns across America.

The food? Simple as simple can be and varied American. Expect classics like eggs benedict, pastrami sandwiches, burgers, spaghetti bolognese, and a BLT along with more Mediterranean-focused fare like chicken souvlaky, prosciutto & mozzarella wrap, and eggplant parmesan. My basic favorite when I’m too lazy to make my own is a tuna fish bacon sandwich with a side of crispy fries. The grub isn’t fancy or made from locally-sourced pricey ingredients, but it’s hearty, hot, and generally satisfying. The best bet is brunch, complete with fluffy pancakes, hulking french toast, fresh bagels with lox, steak & eggs, and a variety of omelettes.

The Bus Stop Cafe is oftentimes a welcome relief from the sky-high prices, overly-complicated cuisine, and snob factor so popular in New York restaurants. It’s basic, efficient, friendly, and utterly devoid of all pretentions. Expect a more laidback clientele than you’d typically find in the West Village, though by no means shabby – heck, you might even spy some good ole Reebok/New Balance sneakers.

Perfect for: hangover brunch, coffee infusion, cheap & fast delivery/takeout, and a simple dinner solo or with buds

Bus Stop Cafe on Urbanspoon