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Monday, September 26, 2011

Nice Man on Death Row


There are no rules. Just because an acclaimed artist is messy does not mean that messiness confers artistry or that it is a necessary condition for such. Handmade is not always better than factory-made or mass-produced. And although generally speaking, I am not a huge fan of the encroachment of national retail chains in New York City, I am not going to buy into the idea that the quality of goods in every small mom and pop shop is superior to that in the chain store.

On weekends, I often like to drive in the outer boroughs looking for stories and photos for this website. On Sunday, I was hungry and in the mood for comfort food, which I rarely eat. I thought I had learned my lesson regarding diners, but apparently, not yet. And this time, I succumbed to a new foolish quest: a search for the "best diner in New York."

My research indicated that the Family Corner in Astoria, Queens, was a worthy candidate for the "best diner" quest, so, I recruited a friend for this outing. We parked, and on the way, I spotted the Neptune Diner, which proclaimed "The Best Diner in New York City" according to the New York Daily News. However, I was to later learn that designation dated back to 1993. We stopped inside - the decor was quite nice for a diner. However, the rave reviews of the Family Corner nagged at me, so we pressed on.

We had parked in a spot that was supposed to be a short couple of blocks away using the Google mapping system. Apparently, even Google is confused with the street numbering system in Queens - their mapping software put us about one mile away. It was after 2PM and I had not yet eaten, so the long walk down 31st Street seem interminable in the humidity. The Neptune Diner was starting to look better every block. Much of the walk was nondescript commercial, making the journey extremely uninteresting.

When we arrived at 2102 31st Street, I was surprised to find the place much smaller than expected, and unfortunately, they had closed the restaurant for sit-down meals - it was now takeout only. So, another mile back down 31st Street. Neptune Diner it would be.
The place was framed by the elevated subway and stairway to the Astoria Blvd station. A fellow patron had recommend the fish, so I ordered salmon stuffed with crabmeat. Like any diner, entrees come as meals, with sides, salads, etc. My companion had the spinach pie - we both agreed that at least one of us should have a Greek specialty.

The food was passable and seemed worse viewed in hindsight as the day passed on. This was the 4th diner experience I have written about - Joe Jr's, the Jackson Hole, the Empire, and now the Neptune. Someday I may finally learn that looking for a great diner is tantamount to seeking a nice man on death row :)

Related Posts: Love Is All Around, Part 2, Greasy Spoon, Anthora

6 comments:

heikoworld said...

After living and working in New York for 2 years as a Television Cameraman finding good places to eat was IMO an art, everyone claiming to be the best and more often the food not being that good.
It was an experience, one that I will never forget. Now home here in the UK and 3 years on from NBC-CBS-Fox and a couple of stints with NY-1, is something I miss but your blog pictures keep it all alive.
Thank You

Heiko

valeria said...

I love New York, i love this blog :)

Anonymous said...

I've eaten in a diner just one time, the Empire.

It was a raining day and it was nice to me, stay there eating my burger, watching people outside fighting against the rain.

but I liked just that romantic atmosphere because food and service weren't so good.

So please, go one looking for the best diner and next time I'll try it ;-)

Anonymous said...

Oh no, I've just visit http://www.empire-diner.com/.
The empire has CLOSED :'(
Do you think that all the diners will disappear? I hope no :'((

Leslie said...

I'm wondering if you want to change the title of this post...actually there are lots of innocent people on death row. I belong to several groups that are fighting to get rid of the death penalty. Since 1973 130 men have been exonerated...how many more innocent people have been wrongly executed? You can delete this post if you feel it's off topic...

Chelsea J said...

I actually sat in the back left in that picture with my mother. They have a mean Greek salad, with every topping you could think of. A little too much salt for me, but I did enjoy it, and I was full for the rest of the day (so glad I didn't order the chicken).