Sadly this particular Manhattan Diner in Upper West Side is no longer there, though there is another of the same name not far away on Broadway. We were staying across the road in the Beaux Arts style Hotel Belleclaire (much revamped in the last few years) and since they did not have a restaurant, we were advised to come here for breakfast along with their other guests. The place had a pleasing ease-yourself-into-the-day atmosphere, but what I liked most was that Upper West Side residents also came here every day for breakfast. I rather felt that this easy cross-the-aisle conversation had been continuing for years, morning after morning, familiar, but not too familiar.
No More Dining at these New York Diners
“We simply don’t want to live in a world without old-school staples like rounded coffee counters, shiny stools, leather booths, jukeboxes, prefabricated stone or steel exteriors and black-and-white photos of “famous clientele” hanging on the walls”
Manhattan Diner Upper West Side 2008
Big Nick’s Upper West Side 2008
I’m posting these photos as a farewell to two New York diners. Being a bit of a food faddist (organic, unprocessed, no GMO), I never expected to like these places so much. Perhaps it was the sense of community that struck me most. Big Nick’s closed its doors in July 2013, after fifty years in the business. Sad. Though I have to say, some of the decor on these shots looks as if it hasn’t been ‘refreshed’ in all that time. The rather smarter Manhattan Diner, where we had breakfast while staying in Upper West Side’s Hotel Belleclaire, was just across the road from Big Nick’s, on the corner of Broadway and 77th. It was forced to close a few years ago to make way for development.
These diners were much loved and served neighbourhood locals and visitors 24/7. Perhaps they did not offer the healthiest menus in the world, and dishes were served up with mega-portions. But fresh fruit and yoghourt at the Manhattan Diner made a delicious breakfast, to say nothing of their frittata. And all the coffee you could drink and huge glasses of iced water, and that feeling of being part of NYC even though we were strangers…
© 2014 Tish Farrell