Hoboken’s Diner Experience
When you think of New Jersey in general, a few things come to mind: Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Chris Christie on the beach, Tony Soprano—and diners.The Jersey Diner is a well-worn concept, and the state happily owns it. The diner concept is fading over time, unfortunately, because people can find the typical diner specialties—coffee, breakfasts, burgers, and other American fare—at other, trendier locations. Throw in rising real estate costs, and diners have been disappearing all over the country. In New Jersey (and New York) it’s especially noticeable because of the sheer number of diners out there.Luckily, diners persist, and we even have four places in town that count as diners even if they’ve tried a more modern spin on the concept. Diners offer fast, casual service with good food at good prices, and they’re generally the sorts of places where you can park yourself in a booth for hours sipping bottomless coffee and nibbling while reading the paper, chatting with friends, or just people-watching. It’s a priceless resource, really—so let’s take a look at the options for diner living in Hoboken.
The best classic diner in town, hands-down. It gets pretty crowded on Hangover Mornings, when the bleary-eyed younger crowd shows up, zombie-like, demanding grease and copious amounts of coffee. But during the week it’s a classic diner experience: You can slide into a booth, chat with the waitress, and eat some surprisingly good food that’s served up hot, fast, and with a minimum of fuss. They also have a liquor license, so you can get a beer or a decent cocktail as well. And if you’re lucky—since this is Hoboken—you might witness the FBI busting a city official or two in a corruption case. Best of all, the Malibu is a 24-hour diner, so you can satisfy your cravings for pancakes at any time.[caption id="attachment_12059" align="aligncenter" width="600"]
The Malibu is as classic as Jersey Diners get.[/caption]
Only serving breakfast and lunch, and only open until 3PM every day, Turning Point isn’t exactly your traditional diner experience. It’s also very crowded most mornings, so there’s not so much lingering in a booth over a cup of coffee as there’s avoiding the impatient stares of people waiting to get your table. Still, the food is on point (see what we did there) and the view—when there isn’t a massive construction project right outside—can’t be beat.
Modeled on an old-fashioned malt shop, Schnackenberg’s is a Hoboken tradition going back eighty years or so. It’s only open until 5PM on weekdays (and 9PM on weekends) so it’s not going to be your late-night spot, but Schnackenberg’s has the old-school milkshakes-and-burgers vibe going—comfort food all the way. The newly-refurbished space is classic diner, too, making it an ideal spot for a casual lunch or an early (very early—they start serving it at 11:30AM) dinner, topped off with some of the best cakes and milkshakes in town.[caption id="attachment_12060" align="aligncenter" width="640"]
You can't beat Schnackenberg's fun ambiance.[/caption]
Hoboken’s other 24-hour diner is also your best bet for drunken fights on Friday and Saturday nights; its proximity to the PATH means that the folks invading our fair town for a night of bar-hopping usually stop in to the Spa on their way back to the train. The Spa isn’t the nicest or prettiest spot you’ll eat in, but the food is good, the prices are low, and the service is ... brisk. The Spa has its regulars, and their banter with the staff can be an extra dose of entertainment, which is worth its weight in gold. There’s nothing fancy here in terms of ambiance and menu, but it’s got the basics down cold.
Diners are essential parts of the city experience, especially in these parts. Hoboken’s four diners within its relatively small area is a luxury few people pause to appreciate. Change that today!