When I go into a diner that looks like a “50’s style” diner, I’m always in terror that some waiter is going jump up on a counter and sing “Love Shack” to amuse me. Then I’ll point out that “Love Shack” isn’t a song from the fifties, and why do we have this romanticized version of the fifties is our minds, what with the segregation, the objectification of women, terrifying cold war, etc, etc. Yes, I’m a barrelful of lighthearted laughter at Johnny Rockets!
Luckily for anyone who is forced to eat with me, the Bel Aire Diner only looks fifties-ish from the outside. Plopped on the corner of Broadway and 21st Street, it has the chrome-everything appearance of a mobile home.
I got there on 3pm on a Sunday afternoon, which means it’s time for breakfast food. (You don’t go ordering shrimp kabobs or lentil soup on a Sunday afternoon, Commie!) It’s busy. Super busy, even on an off time. This place has apparently been voted “best diner” in Queens for the last 100-plus years, and they’re in no danger of going out of business. I sit at the counter (I don’t mind eating solo), and order the Irish breakfast. I’ve ordered “Irish Breakfast” at other places, and usually it means that they throw Irish Bacon in the normal mix of eggs and toast. But oh, how I underestimated you Bel Aire Diner. My plate is put in front of me, and I get this:
Okay, I didn’t get an actual photo of the plate, but sweet Mother O’Malley, people. Here’s what you get: Two eggs any style (I recommend over-hard), two savory pieces of Irish bacon, two pieces Irish sausage, two pieces regular sausage, French fries, and baked-bean style white pinto beans. And toast. Thanks, Irish for never inventing a dish that’s less than 70% starches. Everything comes out in a big pile, which you should most certainly put catsup upon and eat as one big conglomeration. I wouldn’t have suspected that all this mixed together would come up delicious, but my rule of thumb when eating out is: if it sound like a bizarre or terrible idea, ALWAYS order it. It will either be the best thing you ever put in your mouth, or a horrendous thing you can tell a story about later.
In addition, it’s not greasy. The meat is all real meat, not pieces of lard shaped into different forms. The beans are fresh, and the fries are light and crispy. Oh, and it’s only eight dollars. That’s right. Coffee is good diner coffee. It’s not the greatest, but certainly not brown water. It’s just strong enough for you to drink five cups without getting ill.
Two more reasons it’s great: 24 hours, and one block from my house. So come out here and eat, you little jerks!