Thursday, February 4, 2010


I am a huge diner fan. I have been since I spent my formative years at the lovely Acropolis Dinner in beautiful Poughkeepsie, NY. What else do teenagers do in the suburbs? We had few options, and would spend hours over a few cups of coffee, maybe a plate of fries if we were feeling rich. Either there or Denny's. But anyway, teenage hangout or favorite place to get sunnyside up eggs for breakfast, I am a loyal diner kind of person. When I lived in Astoria, I switched between Michael's and Sanford's. Since Corona, it's been the Georgia Diner. But now, thanks to the project, I am able to expand my range, and the first diner (and there aren't many more) is Pete's Grill on 39th and QB.
My biggest decision, once it passes noon, is do I go for eggs or for lunch. I always go in wanting eggs, but then I get distracted by the platters of fries and sandwiches and soups that parade by as I peruse the menu. So today, we got to the diner around 12:30 and sure enough, I lost my focus and ordered a sandwich. A turkey club, to be exact. Which is one of my top picks in any diner. Something to do with my childhood, perhaps (Jeffrey Markel, if you read this maybe you can elaborate). I got the turkey club, José ordered a chicken club panini. Fancy.
We moved to a corner booth after ordering, once it became free, and waited. The place was packed. Busiest lunch I've hit so far in my month of lunching. Everyone had huge salads or sandwiches on their tables, and they all seemed like regulars. We had a great runner, and José immediately made friends with him, as usual. His name was José too.
So the food:
Turkey Club on Whole wheat. Tasted like a turkey club from a diner! To be expected: mealy winter tomatoes. That goes with the territory, so I can not complain. This is not a local, seasonal kind of place. The turkey was on the dry side, which may not make for the most delicious sandwich but is good in a nostalgic kind of way. Here is where it stood out though: super crispy bacon, and the fries were great. Take a look.
Extra crispy, some with the peel still on. Mmm diner fries.
José 's sandwich was fine, he said. Nothing special.
I had a bite, and had to agree. Bacon wasn't as crispy in the panini as in the club.
Why mess with a classic? There were murals of Greek ocean views on the walls, comfy booths, and bottomless cups of coffee. Diners make me happy. What more can I say?

Pete's Grill
39-14 Queens Blvd


  1. I agree, diners are the best!! I don't normally order anything other than breakfast food, but I'll try a turkey club next time. Great job Sara!!

  2. I resemble that remark! I don't remember, though, that you ever demonstrated a special affinity for club sandwiches (or maybe I was just just too focused on my own?)

    Silly Sara - everyone knows that diner Turkey Club sandwiches are to be made with WHITE toast, not whole wheat. As you discovered, diner tomatoes leave a lot to be desired (even during tomato season) - one must firmly yet politely insist that they be left off the sandwich. Finally, there should always be one of those little flutey paper cups on the side with enough mayo to sufficiently moisten the turkey.

    You were right to dither on the breakfast/lunch decision. You may have to go back, because the other test of a good diner (after their club sandwich) is breakfast - specifically their fried eggs with bacon and home fries. It sounds like they've got the bacon down, but you need to see how they do sunny-side up eggs. Yolk broken? or too cooked? Whites under-done? Is the toast to dark? Too light? Too soggy with butter or too dry with not enough? And home fries are key to the experience - made on the griddle with the bacon fat, fried just a little bit crispy with maybe a little bit of green bell pepper, and onion that's cooked soft and sweet but never so much that it gets that acrid over-fried onion taste. And - except for making sure they keep the coffee (and little creamer thingies) coming, they have to leave you alone to read your newspaper or do your crossword or do whatever it is you want to do to idle away a morning.

    Greek murals are good - but was there a map of Greece on the paper place mat? Was there a stylized Greek Key and Trojan soldiers design on the take-out coffee cups? They're integral to the diner experience, don't you think?

  3. Ok, whole wheat, I was trying to be "healthy", although I did eat most of the fries, so I should have just gone with the white.
    I agree 100% that I need to go for bkfst, which is the true test, and I too order sunny-side up eggs, wonder where I got that from?
    There were no paper place mats with a map of Greece, no paper place mat at all for that matter (although I've found that place mats with a list of cocktails and on them are as good an indicator of a great diner as any Greek motifs). Did not notice the take-out cups. Looks like I have more work to do.

  4. Oh man! You should have tried the breakfast. I mean, I guess it's hard to mess up eggs. But the cinnamon raisin baked french toast is super delicious. For lunch, I love their veggie burger -- surprisingly homemade. And don't miss those soft mints on the way out -- so much better than regular peppermints.