Adirondack Diners Worth The Drive

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by Micheal Martineau

Adirondack Diners Worth The Drive

Diners. A staple establishment within the Adirondacks. Think about the last long hike, campout, backpacking trip, sunrise hike, etc. you were on. When you got out of the woods you gravitated toward a good, solid meal. Comfort food. I usually do at least. Heck, I start thinking about what I want to eat as soon as I leave the summit or campsite. My group of friends do the same. We just start blurting out what we want to eat. So, where do you go once back at your car? A diner of course! There’s just something about sitting in those cushioned booths, at a rounded table, dirty, sweaty, and ravenous.

Diners are also the epitome of the saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover.” I’ve often found that the diners that look the worst appearance-wise are the ones that have the best food. Maybe because they use more grease? I like to think they just make killer food because, well, my taste buds are in heaven.

Adirondack diners on the other hand, take great tasting food to a whole other level. Now, I grew up in New Jersey, which to many is known as the diner capital of the U.S. My weekend mornings always started at a diner. When I moved up to the Adirondacks, this routine didn’t skip a beat. If anything, my love for diners turned into an addiction. Adirondack diners are just on another level. Sorry Jersey. With the Adirondacks, the diners just feel so homey. They always smells delicious, the staff treats you like a family members, and the food will make you melt into the booth or barstool.

With all that said here are the diner’s I highly suggest checking out. Whether it be after a hike, backpacking trip, weekend campout, or just a weekend morning in the ADKs.

1.

Ohana's 1950's Diner

Ohana's 1950's Diner in Tupper Lake may be the only haunted diner on this list. For serious. Legend has it that a couple from the 1920s call the colorful interior of the diner home. Enjoy a strawberry milkshake and keep your eyes peeled for shifting shadows and a jukebox or popcorn machine with a mind of its own - you know, normal ghost things.  

2.

Bokie's Drive In

No you didn’t read the title wrong, this is in fact a drive in! In the mood to transport a few generations back to poodle skirts, bow ties, and genuine service? Then you have to visit Bokie’s Drive In. It’s a staple in Malone and a really fun experience. Those who get really into the scene even show up in classic cars. Try not to drool over that 58 red and white Corvette that pulls in. When you’re there grab the classic drive in meal: burger, fries, and a milkshake! Visit Malone to see why traveling back in time has never been so fun and delicious.

3.

The Sunrise Diner

Three words: Apple - Crisp - Donut! Is your mouth watering now? Don’t fight it. These things are incredibly good and will make you melt into your seat with happiness. If you’re lucky enough to show up when they are running them as a special do not pass up getting one. Sunrise Diner in Speculator, the Heart of the Adirondacks, opens at 5 a.m. every day of the week so for you early risers, head there for that first cup o’ Joe. Chat it up with a local  – get their thoughts on what you have planned for the day. They may have some secret spots they are willing to direct you to, making the day even more memorable. Even though that donut will be on your mind constantly.

4.

The Noon Mark Diner

The Noon Mark is no secret to locals and Adirondack enthusiasts. For first-timers hiking the High Peaks Region around Keene Valley though it can be easily overlooked. It’s another one of those must-stop places when you’re here. My first experience with the Noon Mark came at the start of what would be a very long day. A memorable Adirondack diner visit, my first bite was a pleasant surprise, second, even better, and by the third I was doing a happy dance in my seat. Its location is also a huge draw. There are multiple trailheads just minutes away. Know what that means? It the perfect meeting spot for a group hike, or before heading out for a backpacking adventure. Not to give away any secrets but make sure you pick up some extra pie before heading out. Guarantee after finishing your adventure you’ll stop back in for more to bring home.

5.

Country Bear

Oh, the pancakes! No matter how full I am, if I have a chance to go get pancakes from the Country Bear in Wilmington, I’m there. Now, I’m not saying the other food there isn’t delicious — it is, but I can’t stray away from the pancakes. It’s a quaint little diner that is the weekend breakfast spot of the Whiteface Region. The other plus? The drive to it. Whether coming from Ausable Forks, Jay, or Lake Placid it is stunning. Think winding roads along the river, open fields showcasing the High Peaks, and Whiteface Mountain in all its glory. Trust me, starting your morning here will always lead to a great day.

6.

Downtown Diner

A not-so-hidden gem can be found right on Main Street in Lake Placid. Breakfast crowds often flock toward uptown Lake Placid where most retail shops and restaurants are located. Understandable, but you’re missing The Downtown Diner! It’s your quintessential small town diner and man, is it good. The first time I went I was with my family. We had been visiting Lake Placid for about 5 years at that time and overlooked it, so one diner-craving morn we decided, what the heck,  we'd try it. The light blue pleather booths caught me off guard, but the food smell grabbed my attention right back. A few bites into my meal, and I was wondering how I had overlooked this place for so long. Now, it’s become a routine stop for me, especially after a morning hike. The staff is friendly, the seats are super comfortable, and the food comes out fast and hot. Everything you want after being in the woods or putting in long miles. Do your taste buds a favor, head downtown, you’ll be glad you did after the first bite.

7.

Pitkin's

Pitkin's Restaurant on the main drag in Schroon Lake is one my favorite places to chow down and fill up! We're talking good old-fashioned cooking, fresh homemade pies, steaming hot coffee, and friendly locals. I'd offer up a suggestion on what to order, but I have a hard time choosing between their towering club sandwiches or their awesome omelettes. Perhaps you should just go for both. Oh, but wait, I forgot their daily specials and hot soups and... Ah, well, I think the only bad choice here is forgetting to leave room for dessert - seriously, leave room.

8.

Foote's Port Henry Diner

Foote’s is a local gem within Port Henry in the Lake Champlain Region. It’s also a hit for anyone who loves trains because, well, it’s in an old box car! This is one of those places that transported me back to my younger childhood years. The years when on Saturday mornings I used to go with my grandfather to a diner for breakfast and I’d have either a matchbox car, toy plane, or toy train with me to play with on the table. The atmosphere is just awesome. The food is equally delicious, and it should come as no surprise that they fill up quickly on weekend mornings. Their quiches are also a must-try — ham, Swiss, green peppers, and onions? Yes, please!

There you have it. Some, and I really want to emphasize the word some, of the diners in the Adirondacks you need to check out when you’re here. I don’t know about you, but my mouth is watering thinking about all the delicious food. Might just have to head to one of these diners now. It’s never too early or late for pancakes — that’s just a few words of advice from me to you. Happy Adirondack diner eating all!