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The Week in Yelp: Ode to the Great American Diner

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From the people who brought you The Week in Craig, one of the all time great uses of the internet, comes The Week in Yelp, wherein Amy Blair takes aim at the ridiculousness that is the world of Yelp. Her intrepid Yelp-surfing, and words, follow:

2008_01_yelp.jpgHaving grown up in New Jersey, greasy spoon capital of the universe (the whole freakin’ universe, I tell ya!), diners played a fundamental role in my formative years. Did we do anything without a late night follow-up trip to The Coach House or The Grill? How many hours could a couple of teenagers spend stretching out a single plate of pizza fries? (Many, much to the horror of disgruntled diner waitresses everywhere --sorry). Later, diners became a place to study, then, a place to pig out drunkenly in the middle of the night, and lastly a place to shake off hangovers on the cheap. The best thing about diners are that they are the same anywhere you go. I remember stumbling into a classic 50’s-style diner in Tokyo many years ago after being at a club all night, ordering a piece of pie, and then promptly falling asleep with my head on the table while my friends and I waited for the sun to come up and the subways to resume operation. So yeah, diners rule the world over, including the Yelp Universe.

Anywho, first up we have a review of Tom’s Restaurant in New York. So quaint! They decorate the outside with scare crows and?bushes? And the waiters bring you french fries while you are waiting to be seated (not sure that I believe that, but, ok). And the pancakes will “turn everyone’s world upside down.” So what’s to complain about? Finish reading to the end of the review?

Tom's is phenomenal. They are a NYC institution and rightfully so. The prices here are very reasonable with nothing over priced which is rare enough in the city, and extremely rare with a place as well known as Tom's. The outside of the diner is decorated beautifully. When I went this fall it was decorated with bushes, scare crows, and fall decorations you could only find in a quaint neighborhood restaurant in small town America.

Expect lines on a weekend morning 25-45 deep but they have a remedy for that. They have a waiter come out every couple minutes offering things like, coffee, water, cookies, oranges, strawberries, french fries, etc.. to keep you entertained and keep your hunger in check so you don't leave. But if you get here on weekdays or earlier on the weekend like before 9am you probably won't have to deal with a line.

They have all the classic breakfast items done extremely well and some innovative ones you'll never find anywhere else. They're well known for their egg cream, which I tried for the first time (the chocolate version) and I thought it tasted enough like chocolate milk (though slightly different) that I would probably just get chocolate milk instead in the future. The innovations are really centered around their dozen or so types of pancakes. From pumpkin walnut, to blueberry danish, to orange and everything in between there is a pancake to turn everyone's world upside down. If that wasn't enough they serve them with cinnamon, lemon, and strawberry butters. I got the orange pancakes with bacon and cinnamon butter and it was unbelievable.

The portions here are a little modest but you won't be leaving here hungry and it ends up being just enough.

If all those praises weren't enough the people were very nice and the timing was fantastic (I don't think I had to wait more than 15min for my hot fresh and tasty breakfast). The place has been around since the 30s and although I doubt they had as many Mexican employees back then I'm sure the warm service and good food hasn't changed a bit in the past century.

Tom's is definitely the best breakfast I've had in NY yet.

Mexicans! It’s always the Mexicans.

Yup. So, um, next we have a review of Jackson Hole in Queens, New York. If you haven’t been here before, you’ll be interested to know that the diner has both a 1980s AND a 1950s feel to it. Which is interesting, considering that the two decades have, oh, you know, virtually NOTHING IN COMMON. Oh, and also? It’s “Yumma McHumma.” Grrrr.

It is as dinerish as you can get. The tables have a 1980s feel to it, not to mention coral-pink menus and a very tin-box, 1950s feel to it. I got the veggie burger with steak fries and an iced tea. Yumma McHumma* Across the street is a cemetary. Feels like "Six Feet Under" when you sit there, enjoying the headstones and your lunch. There are a bunch of waitresses, some are so peppy, some dull and life-less. Good luck*
Not only does the phrase “Yumma McHumma” grate on my nerves like nails on a chalkboard, but also I’m thoroughly confused by her use of the asterisk. Does “Yumma McHumma” mean “good luck?” Or are those just totally random asterisks? For decorative purposes? Me no get.

Alright, here’s a review of Café 50s from one hungover lady. Apparently the traditional American breakfast relieved her of her hangover, but unfortunately it couldn’t save her from using phrases like “Rosa Park-ed.” Yup. She went there.

One person in the fetal position on the couch, one person lying out along three dinner chairs, another zygote lying on the couch with one leg off the couch and yours truly splattered on the floor..only to wake up to a banging headache and fuzzy recollections of the beerymids and a game of flipcup between Team Awesome vs. Team Korea (Plus Pete).

First words out? "Ugh"

I was in dire need of a remedy that was in the form of either hot noodle soup or some traditional American cookin' to cure me from the alcohol-induced weekend that debilitated me completely.

We went the Traditional route and i was smiling from all corners. I ordered the Great Western Omelet which had yummy ham, avocado, potatoes and jack cheese that was blanketed with 3 beaten-eggs sided with 4 pieces of toast. The boys had Banana pancakes and a traditional eggs and bacon breakfast. I also ordered a to-go order of Joes Scramble to bring home to team Korea, who decided to stay passed out at home. They said it was heaven packaged in a styrofoam box.

Sadly, we were Rosa Park-ed into the back of the restaurant near the kitchen (clink-clang), which sucked, but its okay. Service was great and seating was prompt. CASH ONLY!

Really? Rosa Park-ed in the back of the restaurant? Um, that’s just not ok.

Anyway, last but not least, the (perhaps) downside to diners (sorry to say)?

I totally loved this place for a good while as my neighborhood breakfast spot. However, the last handful of times I ate there the same thing happened to me, a roach crawled across the counter and once clear across the wall towards me. The first time I flicked it away thinking it was just a one time event, I thought the roach was trying to shake my faith in the family run cafe spot, but no, it happened again and again. The prices are really low, the food is good and maybe that's the kind of thing you have to put up with in order to snag that kind of a deal but I'd rather pay an extra buck to eat in peace.
Yup, it’s true. Roaches love the diners about as much as I do. Icky?

—Amy Blair