Diners near campus that will fill your heart and your stomach

Sometimes the stomach is the best way to ease heartache. Here are the best diners near NYU that could help treat your homesickness, one pancake at a time.

Sarah Whitacre, Contributing Writer

As the weather grows cold and the semester drones on, I’ve found myself missing the comforts of home. Last year, my homesickness was nearly unbearable. Overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of the city, I needed some cheering up. One winter night, my roommate and I researched the best places to get milkshakes. We went to a diner just off of Washington Square Park — the only one open late. Long after we finished our shakes, we tried several other things on the menu and chatted with some Columbia University students next to us. After that night, I became a diner connoisseur, constantly dragging my friends to every nearby diner in search of the perfect one. Thankfully, I’ve found a few. 

The good food and friendly folks reminded me of the welcoming atmosphere of my local diners back home in the midwest. There’s nothing like leafing through a multi-page menu that hasn’t changed since the ’90s, drinking a mug of hot chocolate at the counter or sharing a stack of pancakes with friends. This fall, whether you’re seeking homestyle comfort or just a good meal, look no further than the counter of your local diner.

A facade of a restaurant at a street corner with a sign of neon lights, text “Washington Square Diner,” and tree shades next to the building. A perpendicular sign reads “Washington Square.”
(Kevin Wu for WSN)

Washington Square Diner

7 a.m.-11 p.m.

150 W. Fourth St.

Nothing compares to the warm, cozy atmosphere of the Washington Square Diner. Ever since I first stumbled upon it during my first year at NYU, the comfort food and kind staff have kept me coming back. This is the perfect place to decompress with some friends over a cup of coffee or eat a filling late-night meal. Their multi-page menu is full of amazing choices at reasonable prices. They have all the diner staples, including omelets, pancakes and burgers galore. However, their variety of Mediterranean food is my favorite. The Greek salad for $11.95 is my go-to, especially served alongside their famous house-made spinach pie for $17.45. The desserts are as delicious as their main courses, with several types of pie, cakes, pastries and ice cream. The milkshakes are incredible, my favorite being the classic vanilla for $6.45.

:The facade of a restaurant behind a subway station entrance with the text “HOLLYWOOD DINER” hanging on the wall. Smaller signage beneath it also reads “HOLLYWOOD DINER.”
(Irum Han for WSN)

Hollywood Diner

Open 24 hours on Fridays and Saturdays, 6 a.m.-2 a.m. on other days

574 Sixth Ave.

This one’s a little further from campus, but it’s worth visiting at least once. It’s more put together than your typical diner. The cute decor featuring Hollywood stars on spotless tables is a nice touch. There are usually several customers and their brunch service gets especially busy. Their popular brunch combo options seem to keep people coming back — you can get an omelet, toast, potatoes and a drink of your choice for about $15.95. For those over 21, that complimentary drink can include a bloody mary or mimosa. The staff is extremely friendly and attentive, and the food holds its own.

The facade of a restaurant at a street corner with outdoor dining spaces and text “Joe Junior Restaurant” on the light sign. A perpendicular sign reads “Joe Junior Restaurant.”
(Jennifer Ren for WSN)

Joe Jr.

6 a.m.-11 p.m.

167 Third Ave.

Joe Jr. has delicious food, quick service and the prices are the best out of any diner on this list. It’s not as polished or outwardly cozy as some other diners, but it serves its purpose and does it well. It’s hard to complain when you can get a tasty milkshake for $4.90 or a quality burger for $7.30. Not only is the food affordable, but it is also enjoyable, and there is a wide range of menu items to choose from. This place is the quintessential neighborhood diner. There’s almost always an open seat at the counter, and everyone treats you like a familiar face. It’s good food and good service at a good price — simple as that. 

The facade of a restaurant with green accent color and light sign with text “SOUP ‘n’ BURGER” in red. “
(Yuna Baek for WSN)

Cozy Soup ‘n’ Burger

Open 24 hours

739 Broadway

If your commute includes walking from Broadway to Washington Square Park, you’ve probably passed Soup ‘n’ Burger. This cozy spot offers classic diner food and a comfortable atmosphere. The soup and burgers, their namesake dishes, are fairly good. I recommend their split pea soup, but prepare for one tiny cup of soup to set you back $7, plus tax. However, their breakfast specials are affordable gems, with prices ranging from $9 to $11.25. This diner’s convenient location and hours make it a solid option for a quick bite.

The facade of a restaurant at a street corner behind a subway station entrance with text “WAVERLY DINER” on the light sign in red and “BREAKFAST LUNCH DINNER” in brown.
(Shirley Zhang for WSN)

Waverly Diner

7 a.m.-11 p.m.

385 Sixth Ave.

If you’re looking for the feel of a classic retro diner, look no further. Waverly Diner can get busy and packed easily, but only because it’s just that good. The portions are large, though some of the prices are a bit steep — for example, their hot turkey sandwich is $18.15. However, they have many other more affordable options. Their breakfast menu is especially extensive and boasts some of their best dishes. Their french toast is unrivaled, especially the Challah french toast with strawberries going for $16.15. The food is phenomenal on its own, and the environment of Waverly Diner makes the experience worthwhile. The service is quick and friendly; everyone talks like they know each other. It maintains the vibe of a cute neighborhood spot, even when it’s filled with people from all over the map.

Contact Sarah Whitacre at [email protected].