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Andre Gardner

Weekdays 2:00pm–7:00pm

PARK RIDGE, NJ - JUNE 20: General view of The Ridge Diner, a restaurant which James Gandolfini reportedly frequented, June 20, 2013 in Park Ridge, New Jersey. Gandolfini passed away on June 19, 2013 while on vacation with family in Italy. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

So I hear it’s National Cheesecake Day.  Who serves up a better slice that the good old diner?!   To commemorate this day, I wanted to throw out some names of diners, past and present, that shaped me into the man I am today, at times a bit too literally. 

Every local diner has its own character, and characters eating there, and each boasts a certain dish or pie that is better than all others.

I’m sure I’ve left many great ones out, so feel free to add your own!

1.  Olga’s Diner, Marlton NJ

They served up slices of pie larger than my head back in the day.  Olga’s was, for many, the halfway point between the City and the Jersey Shore, perfect for a pit stop.  Sorry it’s just a memory now.

 

2.  Red Lion Diner, Tabernacle, NJ

I believe one of the few times I cut class I took a drive with a pal to the Red Lion Diner, right on the circle of Rt. 206 and 70.

 

3.  Golden Dawn Diner, Burlington, NJ

You never forget your first diner.  I remember my parents taking me there as a youngster and basking in the glow of a hot plate of their fries while gazing our the window as the cars whizzed by on Rt. 130.

 

4.  Vale-Rio Diner, Phoenixville, PA

Another one that’s gone now, I loved stopping into that little place for a quick soup and sandwich.  I hear someone saved the dining car somewhere!

 

5.  Penn Queen Diner, Pennsauken, NJ

My parents loved going to diners.  I could be wrong, but I really do believe we went there on their grand opening weekend.  The first time I ever heard “Over The Hills And Far Away” by Led Zeppelin was on the Penn Queen juke box.  The things you remember..

 

6.  Town And Country Diner, Bordentown, NJ

I discovered this gem one day on my way to work at WPST in Princeton.  I used to tool up 206 and, feeling peckish, stopped in to The T&C.  It was love at first chew.  I’ll always pop in if I’m up there and hungry.

 

7. Ponzio’s Diner, Cherry Hill, NJ

Oh the states I’ve been in while dining at Ponzios over the years.  We’ll leave it at that, but their food always has been consistently excellent!

 

8.  Melrose Diner,  South Philly

C’mon, you can sing the jingle on command. It’s an inn-stee-tution in this town and, though they’ve recently suffered a small fire, they’ll be back and serving their delicious meals in no time.

 

9.  Bob’s Diner, Roxborough

THE quick lunch place for those of us hungry and working in Bala Cynwyd, Bob’s always came through.

 

10.  Llanerch Diner,  Upper Darby, PA

If you haven’t had their creamed chip beef, bleary-eyed at 4am, you are no diner fan, pal.

 

11.  Penrose Diner, Packer Park/South Philly

Leave it to South Philly to have two incredible diners literally a mile apart.  The Penrose serves up some of the best fries you ever munch, and there’s nothing like being called “hon” by the waitstaff.

 

12.  Mayfair Diner, Northeast Philly

The best plate of lasagna I ever had, not served at someone’s home, was here.  I still remember it, some 35 years later.  It was that good!!

 

If you happen to stop by one of these great places that are still open, I’ll see you at the counter.  I always prefer sitting there.

~ Andre Gardner

@andregardner