I saw Guy Fieri pop up in the news the other day. He’s an interesting dude. He looks like he should be some random guy working at Game Stop. Instead, he’s a celebrity chef who hosts “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” among other shows.

He featured Clifton’s Tick Tock Diner in an early episode of that show. This was years before the major renovations that Tick Tock underwent just before the pandemic. Renovations that included bougie coffee choices like cold brew and French press and a barista, a posh main dining room with black walnut tables and terrazzo flooring, and an atmosphere that was shedding authentic diner skin into something more upscale.

Which got me thinking.

Which diners are still around that are honest to God, true, authentic diners? You know, where they have paper placemats with the local business ads printed on them and one is always for a bail bondsman.

Where the waitresses are still called waitresses and not servers and they still call you “Hon.” Where there’s a counter with those swivel seats without backs and upholstered in red vinyl. A genuine diner.


So we asked the best source. The people of New Jersey. According to New Jersey 101.5 listeners these are some of the most authentic diners in the Garden State.

The Bendix

In Hasbrouck Heights just off Route 17 the Bendix has stood its ground since 1947. It’s old school. It’s famous, and so are some of its workers and customers. Such as John Diakakis, a blind waiter who rose up through the ranks to run the place.

And music superstar Jack Antonoff who shot the music video for “Stop Making This Hurt” inside the Bendix. It’s even been featured in movies such as “Boys On The Side” and “The Many Saints of Newark.”

Typical diner breakfast
Diana Van der Sluys

South Star Diner

In Mount Holly, this diner is one of the few that remains a 24-hour diner. It may not look like a train car exterior, but when you walk in and see that glass case with the cheesecakes and other desserts and then sit down and find one of those oversized laminated menus in your hand you know you’ve come to the real thing.


Summit Diner

You want a diner that looks like a railroad car? Yes, it’s still there. Since 1929 the Summit Diner has stood across from the train station. It’s so famous it even has its own Wikipedia page. Rumor has it Ernest Hemingway was once a patron. It doesn’t get more authentic than this and may they never change.

Mays Landing Diner

It’s said to have a true, old-school community feel where you’ll always find regular old-timers at the counter reading a newspaper. Lots of paper placemats, lots of windows, lots of booths, and homemade baked meatloaf on their menu. Need we say more?

american diner restaurant style in black and white tiles and red booths

Legacy Diner

The Legacy Diner in Audobon was called in and raved about as being an authentic New Jersey diner still operated by a Greek family. A local and narrow old-school layout with booths on one side and a generous counter on the other. It has everything you'd expect to see in a real diner right down to the glass pastry case.

Breakfast foods and drinks
Daniel Hurst

Broad Street Diner

This place is like walking into a diner 40 years ago. Chrome everywhere, including the chairs except for the red vinyl seats. A perfect throwback and a hidden gem on Broad Street in Keyport. Once voted best diner in New Jersey by NJ.com. Oh, and they're a BYOB establishment. And yes, it looks like a train car.

Typical diner breakfast
Diana Van der Sluys

Clinton Station Diner

On Bank Street in Clinton, this diner has an honest to god railroad dining car attached. If you have a sweet tooth they're known for their desserts, especially their cheesecakes. Also known for their huge burger menu, I counted 30. And a liquor license means you can enjoy a beer or cocktail with your authentic diner food.

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Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski only.

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