Friday, February 9, 2018

Best New England Diners That Rarely Make the 'Best of' Lists

New England has its share of outstanding diners, and the ones that constantly make the "best of lists" almost always deserve landing on the media's dining out dean's list.

Diners like The Maine Diner in Wells, Maine, Red Arrow Diner in Manchester, N.H., the Agawam Diner in Rowley, Mass., and Modern Diner in Pawtucket, R.I., get lots of press, but what about those other diners that inexplicably tend to fly under the radar? Often, in their own unique ways, those diners are every bit as good as the more popular ones.

Here are four of my favorites...

Patriots Diner (photo by Eric)
Patriots Diner, Woonsocket, R.I. This neon and chrome beauty located just outside downtown Woonsocket gets high marks from us for a dedication to home-cooked meals, a big menu that has something for everyone, huge portions, and convenience for being open 24/7. Whether breakfast platters, three egg omelets, French Toast, pancakes, waffles, soups, burgers, triple decker club sandwiches, Greek and Italian specialties, steak and chicken dinners, fried seafood platters or gigantic desserts, it's all good. We have never had a bad meal here and almost always, an excellent one. My favorite dishes include pastichio (baked macaroni and ground beef, topped with a creamy cheese sauce), the Monte Christo, baked meatloaf dinner, fish and chips, Greek salad with a heaping amount of feta cheese, and the New Englander -- apple/cinnamon pancakes topped with apples, cinnamon and whipped cream. Like all great diners, the service is down-to-earth and dependable. The Patriot Diner is located at 65 Founders Drive, Woonsocket, R.I. Tel. (401) 765-6900

Dave's Diner (photo by Eric)
Dave's Diner, Middleborough, Mass. This southeastern Massachusetts diner looks like a classic diner with all its neon and chrome, but was actually built in the 1990s. Some traditionalists might be put off that the diner wasn't built in the mid 1900s and doesn't creak and look slightly worn, but that would be a mistake: locals that know their diners consider this one of the best. Sticking to the basics -- and then improving upon them -- elevates Dave's Diner to our "best of list."  Popular dishes like the roast turkey dinner, fried chicken, the King Kong's Waffle with strawberries, bananas, chocolate chips, walnuts & whipped cream and The Hungry Harry with three eggs with home fries, two bacon strips, two sausages, two pancakes and toast will make you a believer. Dave's Diner is located at 390 West Grove St. in Middleborough MA. Tel. (508) 923-4755

Carl's Oxford Diner (photo by Eric)
Carl's Oxford Diner, Oxford, Mass. Constructed around a Worcester dining car, Carl's Oxford Diner features staff that could have had second careers as comedians and delicious breakfast and lunch food that goes beyond big portions -- case in point, the Bacon Special with 10 strips of bacon, three eggs and a mountain of home fries. Certainly not a diner for anyone with a dedicated dietary New Year's resolution and the need to immediately improve cholesterol readings, Carl's, nevertheless, could very well serve as the prototype of everything good about a diner. The service is down-to-earth, the place looks like a real diner, and no one goes home hungry. If fact, the owners can often be heard asking the customers if they've had enough food. Although done with sincerity, it's kind of a ridiculous question given the portions here and favorites like the pastrami and cheese omelet, the gigantic kielbasa plate, the bacon cheeseburger, and double stacked strawberry waffle pancakes. I haven't had this happen to me but heard that if you don't finish your food, one of the lady employees will write "Real Big Wimp" on your take-home box and paint one of your fingernails red!  Carl's Oxford Diner is located at 291 Main St., Oxford MA. Tel. (508) 987-8770

Putney Diner (photo by Eric)
Putney Diner, Putney, Vt. You've got to love a diner that uses real Vermont maple syrup, carves its turkey fresh, and serves maple walnut pie for dessert. Sure, the Puntey Diner is good sticking with the basics like eggs, pancakes, burgers, and mac and cheese, but the extra touches make it a wonderful choice as a top echelon Vermont diner. Additionally, while most "real" diners offer friendly service, the Putney Diner seemed a bit friendlier treating each customer, during my visit, like an old friend. While the Putney Diner looks more like a small restaurant than a classic Worcester dining car, the atmosphere says "diner." The food definitely says "diner!"  The Putney Diner is located at 128 Main St. in Putney VT. Tel. (802) 387-5433

Love diners and want to read more? Be sure to check out The Best Diners In New England Guide at

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