Long Islanders love their diners, reliable spots where you can order breakfast, lunch or dinner at any time of the day and generally get a big meal at a great price. Most are sprawling structures built from the 1960s to the 1980s. The Island’s newest, the double-decker Landmark in Roslyn, opened in 2009, replacing the old Landmark built in 1964.
Covering all the bases at all hours (hours of operation may be reduced during the pandemic) requires an encyclopedic menu. Laminated and spiral-bound, a typical diner menu clocks in at more than 200 items, including eggs, pancakes, waffles, hot and cold cereal, burgers, sandwiches (hot and cold, open-faced and closed), pasta and Parms, souvlaki and moussaka, steaks and chops and fish, ice cream and fountain drinks plus a colorful array of prominently displayed cakes and pastries. Portions are large, prices reasonable. The dining rooms are brightly lit with a variety of seating options — counter, tables and booths. Service is quick, and no one will give you a hard time if all you want is a cup of coffee.
Everybody's got a favorite — and that may well be right down the block. Here are some diners of distinction.
Landmark Diner (1027 Northern Blvd., Roslyn): This double-decker diner has an impressive array of salads, from a classic Caesar to a grilled chicken caprese, and patrons can tailor them with any number of proteins and more than a dozen dressings. The roster of choices extends throughout the menu and includes daily comfort-food specials, including chicken pot pie and corned beef and cabbage. More info: landmarkdineronline.com
Oconee East Diner (749 Main St., Islip): The diner is known for its over-the-top holiday decor, particularly during Christmastime, when glittery red, green, silver and gold decorations bedeck the ceilings, booths and windows. More info: oconeediner.com
Premier Diner (690 Commack Rd., Commack): Co-owners Peter and Helen Georgatos have made quality food their calling card at this diner, which boasts 350 items on its regular menu and goes through 10,000 eggs a week. They make their own gravies, bread and pancake batter. A veteran of the Hunts Point produce market, Peter is bullish on vegetables, opting for super select cucumbers and Sunkist 140 lemons. More info: premier-diner.com
Thomas’s Ham ’N’ Eggery (325 Old Country Rd., Carle Place): There's always something new and inventive on owner Tom Koukoulas' breakfast menu. Cheese and herb-laced egg scrambles (including the Popeye), meltingly good egg sandwich melts, stuffed French toast. No wonder people wait in long lines on weekend mornings. Old favorites — like the ambrosial oatmeal, light Belgian waffles, moist muffins and coffee cakes — draw crowds as well. More info: hamandeggery.com
Tim's Shipwreck Diner (46 Main St., Northport): This reliable neighborhood spot has a crisp nautical blue-and-white color scheme but remains a vintage diner at its heart. You will find newer items, including the "Wreck-less" breakfast wrap with grilled salmon and egg whites, as well as the standards that have helped this place stay alive since 1924.
Pantry Diner (525 Merrick Rd., Rockville Centre): Tommy Mavroudis is a grandson of the Pantry’s original owner, Teddy Pagonis, and is determined to continue the family’s legacy. This is a modernized diner with a streamlined menu and sleek decor featuring dark wood floors and tables, Edison light bulbs and instead of a counter, a bar. More info: eatatpantry.com