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.
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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