19 Best Diners In New Jersey, Ranked

Diners are defined as small, owner-operated eateries with wide-ranging menus that typically feature affordable American fares like hamburgers, sandwiches, fries, and every type of omelet under the sun. There's something for everyone, whether you're looking for a hearty breakfast, a quick lunch, or a simple cup of coffee.

More broadly, though, diners can be defined as a New Jersey staple. The Garden State is widely considered the diner capital of the world, boasting more than 500 within its borders. The very concept began in the town of Bayonne, where businessman Jerry O'Mahony founded a company that built more than 2,000 readymade diners in the years between World Wars I and II. Other diner manufacturers followed suit, taking advantage of New Jersey's infrastructure and dense population to build customer bases, and many mirrored O'Mahony's signature metallic railroad car design.

While many diners have changed with the times, several of New Jersey's classic spots still sport that recognizable look today, complete with neon signage that hearkens back to mid-century America. Some are still open 24 hours a day, too. Whether you're staying for a while or just passing through, these are the places you'll want to hit for that authentic New Jersey diner experience.

19. Beacon Diner — Fairview

Formerly known as The Point before rebranding in 2019, The Beacon Diner in Fairview is hardly the oldest on this list. But it does diner tradition proud with its cozy booths, friendly atmosphere, and, of course, its extremely large menu and portion sizes. Like most diners, breakfast is big here, and sweet options are the star of the show — just ask anyone who's ordered a stack of specialty choconutter pancakes (covered in peanut sauce and Nutella) or tiramisu French toast (filled with mascarpone, bananas, and raspberry sauce).

If you don't have a sweet tooth (or simply don't feel like getting up early to beat the breakfast rush), lunch is also a good option here, with both Buffalo chicken and Caesar wraps as clear standouts. Beacon Diner is solid and sets a good baseline for this list, but lacks that lived-in charm to be ranked much higher.

18. Jackson Hole — Englewood

If Jackson Hole looks familiar, it might be because its sister diner in Astoria, Queens landed on our list of the best diners in America. That one might have "Goodfellas" bonafide, but the New Jersey iteration is no slouch, complete with its nostalgia-inducing metallic exterior and neon signage. Each booth has its own tabletop jukebox packed with classic and contemporary hits, so don't forget to bring quarters.

The omelet selection at Jackson Hole is fantastic, but the diner's calling card is its massive burgers that are so big you'll probably need a knife and fork to finish them. No shame, though — these are not for the faint of heart. Order one with fries, top it with house-made pickle chips and wash it down with a root beer for maximum effect. This is a great diner overall, but it gets some points off for having three other locations — all of which are in New York. Not exactly pure Jersey diner tradition.

17. Shamong Diner — Shamong

Our first entrant from South Jersey, the Shamong Diner began as a simple coffee shop off Route 206 before chef Manny Monteiro took it over in 2006 and turned it into a local favorite. This place does all the diner classics well and also features traditional Indian dishes. Stop by on Indian Nite for specials like samosas, saag paneer, and the double lamb cheeseburger deluxe served up on a pretzel bun.

Shamong Diner also features full ice cream and pizza menus, and locals rave about the chicken tikka masala pizza. There's a full section of Italian food on the regular dinner menu, as well as both vegan and vegetarian options and recommendations from Manny himself. We seriously doubt he'll steer you wrong. Since this place is part pizza shop, though (which we certainly don't mind), it gets knocked down a peg toward the bottom of our list.

16. Red Lion Diner & Bakery — Southampton Township

The Red Lion Diner & Bakery has been a Southampton Township institution since 1973. Customers are greeted by a friendly staff and a surprisingly large restaurant interior, the size of which is only matched by the restaurant's portions. Expect the Red Lion to be packed any time of day or night, but especially around breakfast time. We're keen on the breakfast special pancakes, one of which comes with Greek yogurt and honey that makes for the perfect not-too-sweet breakfast.

The menu is substantial but not immense and features plenty of gluten-free and vegan options. Highlights include an eggless veggie breakfast sandwich and seitan marsala. And if you're in need of a last-minute pie or cake, Red Lion's dessert case will make you understand why it's got "bakery" in its name. We love this diner, but it's almost too big, and that takes away some of the cozy diner feel we expect with a plate of eggs and a piping cup of joe.

15. Silver Coin Diner — Hammonton

If you're looking for spectacular neon signage and lighting, then the Silver Coin Diner in Hammonton is the place for you. Founded in 1982 and situated between Philadelphia and Atlantic City, this place is renowned by locals for its friendly service and delicious diner fare that keeps them coming back for more.

Try the gyro wrap or chicken parm sandwich for lunch or any of the Silver Coin's egg options for a filling breakfast. Something about an omelet served on checkerboard-outlined plates just hits a little differently. It's not quite a 24-hour diner, but hours from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. should keep you covered for just about any time you're in the area and feeling hungry. You could do far worse than the Silver Coin, but it lacks that extra oomph to get it higher ranked.

14. Deepwater Diner — Carneys Point

Deepwater Diner is another South Jersey staple just across the river from Wilmington, Delaware. Its neon sign isn't the flashiest, but you'll be able to spot its big red letters from far away. When you arrive, you'll surely be greeted by friendly staff and eat amongst regulars who can't get enough of the restaurant's homemade soups, which are usually offered on special rotation and worth the trip alone.

Broiled and fried seafood get their own separate sections on this classic no-frills diner menu, but you can't go wrong with a simple Western omelet here. Expect quality food no matter what time you end up stopping in, because this place is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week as the diner gods intended. We love how straightforward this place is, but there's a certain panache missing that you'll find in some of our higher-ranked diners.

13. Marge's Diner — Clermont

It might not be neon, but the sign above Marge's Diner is as good as any on this list. The restaurant itself is as straightforward as its "eat here and get gas" slogan. This place may look like somebody's house as you pull in, but once you're inside, that cozy, classic diner atmosphere washes right over you. 

Locals have plenty of favorites, including the hungry man special that comes complete with pancakes or French toast, two eggs, and your choice of breakfast meat. But the most-lauded dish here is comfort food that you may have forgotten about: cream-chipped beef. If you're headed to (or from) the Jersey Shore and need a nourishing meal, Marge's will get the job done and then some. It receives a deduction here for not having that traditional railcar diner exterior, but only a slight one.

12. Golden Pigeon Diner — Bridgeton

The Golden Pigeon Diner has that quintessential New Jersey diner look and the hours (open 24/7) to match it. The exterior is a mix of metallic siding and cobblestone walls that feel in many ways like a blast from the not-too-distant past. Rotating lunch and dinner specials are all the rage here, and the prices are extremely reasonable — three eggs with your choice of meat clocks in at under $10.

The service here is quick and friendly, and the complimentary bread is a nice touch that you don't commonly find at diners. Sometimes a local restaurant feels elemental, as much a part of a given place as native trees or a body of water. The Golden Pigeon feels that way. It's a very good diner, but not a transcendent one.

11. Arlington Diner — North Arlington

A good sign doesn't make or break a diner, but it can go a long way in setting that proper diner tone. Arlington Diner's sign does just that, as its gigantic neon letters hearken back to the 1960s and draw you in like a moth to a flame. Unlike a moth, however, here you'll be treated well. The menu features all the classics, but the highlight is its slew of classic and crazy milkshakes, including a cannoli version.

Arlington Diner also has its own spin on Jersey classic disco fries, serving them up with waffle-cut beauties. This local favorite is open from 6 a.m. until midnight, so there's plenty of time for you to indulge your diner cravings (and snap a pic of those neon lights for your Instagram followers). The signage would normally put this diner near the top of the list, but the exterior is almost too movie-set-like to live up to.

10. Salem Oak Diner — Salem

Salem Oak Diner looks every bit the part with its vintage, worn exterior featuring metallic siding and a red neon leaf. Inside, the service is fast and friendly, and the prices are reasonable, especially for the amount of food you get. The omelets are massive, as are the portions for the diner's signature salad with chicken. Check with your server for rotating daily specials and don't be afraid to try a local recommendation.

Salem Oak is as simple as it gets, and that's part of the reason why it sits at about the halfway point in this ranking. But simple certainly isn't a bad thing. It's part of what makes this the kind of place you want to pull over for, even if it's just to drink a cheap cup of coffee and share some conversation with friendly servers or regulars.

9. Colonial Diner — Lyndhurst

Another diner, another classic red neon sign. The Colonial Diner in Lyndhurst advertises itself as traditional, and it encompasses every sense of the word. Located just a few minutes from MetLife Stadium on Route 3, this place is a favorite for postgame meals after early afternoon Jets and Giants games. The interior is as cozy as it gets, with booths just a few feet away from the counter (and do not get us started on those barstools and beautiful tiling) — the vibes are just so good here.

Food-wise, this place is a go-to for French toast, a delicious Greek salad, and both chicken and pork souvlaki. Be sure to come hungry, because the portions are as large as you'd expect at a perpetually busy old-school diner.

8. Chit Chat Diner — Hackensack & West Orange

The Chit Chat Diner is so good that we're grateful it has two locations. And the folks in Hackensack and West Orange (and the surrounding areas) are also pretty thankful for it.

The booths are a bit more spaced out and the entire restaurant takes on more of a modern feel than some on this list, which makes sense for a diner founded in 2009. Even still, you probably won't forget you're in a true blue New Jersey diner — and just in case you do, the menu will remind you all over again. Choose from a dizzying variety of egg scrambles and specialties like the El Camino (poached eggs and pulled pork carnitas served with fried tortillas). Chit Chat West Orange is open until 9 p.m., while the Hackensack location stays open 24 hours.

7. Vincentown Diner — Southampton Township

South Jersey Magazine crowned the Vincentown Diner as South Jersey's best diner in 2022, and it's not terribly hard to understand why. The original Vincentown Diner was built in 1953 and was recently remodeled in 2019, giving it a sleek, modern look. But while the exterior doesn't exactly scream classic diner, inside you'll find typical favorites as well as riffs on timeless classics like the Mile High Meatloaf (stacked on mashed potatoes and topped with fried onions), which was featured on "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives."

You can't go wrong with the chicken pot pie or sandwich options here, and we absolutely love the burger selection. If you're going for breakfast, set your sights on the apple pie French toast, and don't look back — unless it's at any one of the delicious hot cakes that are also available.

6. Angelo's Glassboro Diner — Glassboro

Angelo's Glassboro Diner checks all the essential New Jersey diner boxes. The space is quaint and warm. The service is speedy and friendly. The food is delicious and affordable. Breakfast is what Angelo's is all about, as the pancakes, scrambled eggs, and breakfast potatoes are all local favorites. The sandwich selection is worth checking out, too, whether for breakfast or lunch.

More than food, though, Angelo's the kind of diner that leaves its mark on you, nestling itself in your subconscious without you even noticing. Then one day, maybe years since you've been there, you wake up with a hankering for it, and not just the food — you crave the smell of fresh bacon and the sound of spatulas smacking against a hot griddle. We can think of no higher praise.

5. Summit Diner — Summit

We've made it to the top five, which means we're also in the territory where there are no wrong answers. Founded in 1928, Summit Diner is one of the most famous in New Jersey. It's almost a crime to have it ranked this low, but that just speaks to the number of quality diners in the Garden State. The building itself is beautiful, with the classic railroad car design housing its cozy wood-paneled interior. Make sure you get here early, though — Summit Diner opens its doors at 5:30 a.m. but closes up shop at 4 p.m.

As with any diner worth its salt, breakfast is the tried-and-true meal here, but you can't really go wrong with anything on the menu. Keep it simple with eggs any style, pancakes, or corned beef hash. We'd also recommend the biscuits with sausage gravy. If you want to feel like you're part of a tradition, continuing something bigger than yourself that's gone on for generations (and will continue long after you've paid the check), you should eat at Summit Diner and drink in the entire experience for everything it is. Just remember that it's Taylor ham when you order here, instead of pork roll (if you know, you know).

4. Bendix Diner — Hasbrouck Heights

When you think of a picturesque roadside diner, your mind likely conjures up something that looks an awful lot like the Bendix Diner. It's been a filming site for plenty of television shows and movies, including "Jersey Girl" and most recently "The Many Saints of Newark." Its shimmering metallic siding and bright pink signage attract drivers from both sides of Route 17 and is regularly flanked by truck trailers. Inside, you'll be greeted with impeccable service from a staff that includes John Diakakis, a waiter who has become as much of an icon as the diner itself.

Eating at a place like the Bendix is more about the ambiance and history rather than the food, which is part of the reason we've slotted it fourth in this ranking. But there's plenty of deliciousness to be had here, as well. We recommend the French toast or a Greek omelet if you're in a breakfast mood, and the cheesesteak is a perfect filling lunch option. Perhaps no other diner on this list will make you feel more like you're the main character of a Scorsese film, and we love that.

3. Broad Street Diner — Keyport

The Broad Street Diner can only exist exactly where it is. The tiny railroad car diner is about three car lengths long and has been serving the people of Keyport delicious diner fare for generations. We've used the word "cozy" several times to describe diners, but that doesn't feel quite apt enough here ... so we'll go with "snug." The classic car theme is prevalent everywhere, from the neon sign above the diner to the bright red and white cushions padding its booths.

Bobby Flay has filmed here, and Broad Street Diner has won several best diner awards, including NJ.com's recent diner showdown, so you know this place is good. You'd do well ordering any of the diner classics, but if you want a little pizzazz, try the Elvis French toast (topped with peanut butter and bananas) for breakfast or the Juicy Lucy burger (filled with melty American cheese) for lunch.

2. Tick Tock Diner — Clifton

Simply put, the Tick Tock Diner is a New Jersey original. It's attracted hungry locals and travelers of all stripes since 1948. If you're driving along Route 3 at night, you can spot its neon illumination from half a mile down the road. Perhaps its most famous feature, at least on the outside, is the "Eat Heavy" sign, and that slogan isn't taken lightly here — the portions are appropriately massive. By now you surely realize breakfast is a good bet at any given diner, and the same is true here, but we also can't resist the cheeseburgers.

When you're this high up on the list, there's usually a good reason for it. Tick Tock isn't just a restaurant, it's an institution. Virtually any person who grew up in and around North Jersey has likely eaten here at least once, whether they stopped in for a wholesome breakfast or to chow down on some late-night grub. If you're ever passing by, don't think twice — pull in, grab a seat, and eat heavy.

1. Tops Diner — Harrison

Tops Diner is aptly named, as it takes the top spot in our Jersey diner rankings. It was founded in 1942 and has undergone plenty of change since then, including a recent remodeling, but quality food, service, and atmosphere remain. Tops' vertical sign is equal parts transfixing and beckoning, while its elegant interior showcases a sleek mix of modern and retro. This is a restaurant fit for any occasion, whether you're looking for a quick meal or planning a birthday dinner with a group.

We could talk about the food for a while, too, because this menu is absolutely stacked. We highly recommend the Kansas City burger, Cajun waffle fries, and meatloaf. The truth is, though, you don't need a recommendation here. Just open the menu, close your eyes, and point to anything — you can't go wrong at Tops. There simply isn't a better diner in New Jersey, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a better one in the entire country.