At times, it may seem there's but one diner on Long Island -- one that was somehow cloned and distributed throughout Nassau and Suffolk. How else to explain all the glitzy exteriors, 10-page menus and glass showcases of decadent desserts?
But there are some that break with the stereotype, in both architecture and food. From a vintage railroad car to a streamlined new double-decker, we give you these diners with style, taste, individuality and, in some cases, history. Picks by Joan Reminick.
The Cook Room (25 Middle Country Rd., Middle Island): The homestyle menu features everything from creative takes on French toast to burgers (pictured, with avocado, cheddar and bacon).
Dix Hills Diner
Dix Hills Diner (1800 E. Jericho Tpke., Huntington): In true diner form, you can order everything from fish and chips to pot roast, a chicken gyro to cheese blintzes, a farmer's omelet to banana-pecan pancakes. Also traditional are the hours, which extend to 2 a.m. on weekends.
Empress Diner (2490 Hempstead Tpke., East Meadow): A good bowl of oatmeal can make your morning. And at Empress, you can have it your way, as the diner offers a roster of 21 oatmeal varieties. Also good are the surprisingly fluffy pancakes, made with a hint of vanilla. You'll also find a host of unique omelets — including options with pastrami and gyro meat — in addition to an array of burgers, sandwiches and salads.
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.
Mineola Diner (138 Jericho Tpke., Mineola): Diner buffs will enjoy the time-warp ambience of this gleaming, little stainless steel landmark, manufactured in 1946 and on its current site since 1948. The chef roasts a whole turkey daily, so look for sandwiches, salads and omelets featuring dark as well as white meat. Also on the menu: burgers, house-made soups, salads, milk shakes and egg creams.
Mitchell's (191 Rockaway Ave., Valley Stream): This diner, which dates to 1938, has a full savory menu, but you could make a meal out of the ice cream-based desserts, all the components of which are made on the premises. Highlights include the silky, bittersweet hot fudge; a pistachio ice cream with depth of flavor and lots of nuts; and an ice cream sandwich on toasted marble pound cake drizzled with caramel and chocolate.
Mitchell's in Oceanside, known for its ice cream, will close July 12.
Plainview Diner (1094 Old Country Rd., Plainview): In this eatery open for more than 40 years, you're good from the light, fluffy pancakes on through the fresh seafood. Pies and pastries are baked on the premises and provide perfect finishes to the Angus burger menu.
Premier Diner (690 Commack Rd., Commack): At this spot-on diner, co-owner Helen Georgatos offers a regularly changing menu insert that showcases her imaginative thinking. Proof comes via clever pancakes, including pumpkin (pictured), pistachio and cloudlike angel food. Baked oatmeal is also good, and the omelets are light yet substantial. For lunch, there are hefty sandwiches, char-grilled burgers and generous salads; the dinner options are seemingly endless.
Riverhead Diner & Grill
Riverhead Diner & Grill (85 E. Main St., Riverhead): Not many restaurants can boast 80 years of history, but Riverhead Diner has blown past that landmark anniversary. Travel back to the 1930s for breakfast, lunch and dinner at this historic spot. (Pictured is owner Liz Strebel.)
Thomas's Ham 'N' Eggery
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 on long lines weekend mornings. Old favorites, like the ambrosial oatmeal, light Belgian waffles, moist muffins and coffee cakes, draw crowds as well.
Tim's Shipwreck Diner
Tim's Shipwreck Diner (46 Main St., Northport): With a recent makeover (courtesy of the Food Network show "American Diner Revival"), this reliable neighborhood spot boasts 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 (pictured), as well as the standards that have helped this place stay alive since 1924.