Newsday's Elisa DiStefano visits LI diners where the menus are vast and nostalgia runs high. Credit: Randee Daddona

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. Here are some diners of distinction.

Cutchogue Diner

27800 Main Rd., Cutchogue

Long Island's oldest diner has retained the stainless-style exterior and red-and-white interior that graced its opening in 1941. The tables, counter and kitchen are all contained within one prefabricated unit. More info: 631-734-7016,

Embassy Diner

4280 Hempstead Tpke., Bethpage

One of Long Island's oldest diners (est. 1960), the Embassy got a new lease on life when it was bought in April by Gus Tsiorvas, scion of one of the partners in Islip's Oconee East Diner. Tsiorvas has brought back some old favorites like beef goulash and pepper steak, and has introduced some newfangled concoctions like a chicken-bacon-honey-BBQ quesadilla and an “Italian grilled cheese” that is filled with “mozzarella stuffed with three mozzarella sticks.” More info: 516-796-1132

Golden Reef Diner

329 Sunrise Hwy., Rockville Centre

In addition to the usual desserts — mile-high pies, fountain favorites, baklava — the Golden Reef serves more than a dozen varieties of homemade gelato and sorbetto, all displayed for customers to select their own combinations. More info: 516-764-9273,

Hauppauge Palace Diner

525 Smithtown Bypass, Hauppauge

Until iPods came on the scene, jukeboxes were practically mandatory at diners. Now they are an endangered species but can still be found at the booths at the Hauppauge Palace. More info: 631-724-1775,

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, such as chicken potpie and corned beef and cabbage. More info:

Oconee East Diner

749 Main St., Islip

The Oconee East Diner in Islip keeps it fresh for customers by changing the interior decorations throughout the year. September’s autumn leaves give way to Halloween ghosts, Thanksgiving turkeys, Christmas lights, Valentine’s Day hearts, St. Patrick’s Day shamrocks, Easter eggs, Memorial Day flags that carry right through July Fourth to Labor Day, when the cycle starts again. More info:

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:

Coconut-chocolate chip pancakes at the Premier Diner in Commack.

Coconut-chocolate chip pancakes at the Premier Diner in Commack. Credit: Daniel Brennan

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, pictured), 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:

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 décor featuring dark wood floors and tables, Edison light bulbs and instead of a counter, a bar. More info:

The "Calm" Chicken Ranch Salad at the Pantry Diner in...

The "Calm" Chicken Ranch Salad at the Pantry Diner in Rockville Centre. Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

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