Lunching at the VIP Diner

I feel like I’ve been here before. It smells like french toast and coffee mingling with onion rings cooked crispy in new oil. When I walk in there’s a waitress hugging an elderly man and it all seems so familiar. So Jersey.

“Table or Booth?” someone in business casual asks me. She’s either the manager or the hostess. I can’t tell. Either way she’s kind. I’m meeting someone who’s running late so I order a coffee and water while I wait.

The menu looks like every other menu in every other diner you’ve ever visited. There’s no need to look at it, but you do anyway. It’s a habit.

(The manager. She’s definitely the manager. I can tell now.)

When my guest arrives, she orders a chicken and rice soup and suggests I order the French Onion – but when it comes out the cheese doesn’t have those well-done bubbly cheese spots on it, so I’m disappointed. I try again. I really want to love this place. (There’s a parking lot!)

I flip flop between the turkey burger and the chicken quesadilla, ultimately choosing the quesadilla. It arrives just minutes later, steaming and overflowing the plate. It comes with a side of salsa, sour cream, and FRIES?! Unconventional, for sure, but delightful nonetheless. And the quesadilla was everything I wanted it to be: standard, but easy on the cheese, heavy on the chicken, a few peppers and no onions.

There’s something wonderful about feeling like a regular in a restaurant you’ve never been to. That feeling like you belong. Which, at the VIP, it seems like you do.

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But don’t take my word for it. They’re open 24 hours. Give it a shot.

The VIP Diner is located at 175 Sip Ave, Jersey City, NJ 07306. You don’t need a reservation.

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Posted by

Mel Kozakiewicz a professor, editor, writer, and mother of two.

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