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This Fourth of July was dreamily warm and sunny in the Lehigh Valley.  Huge puffs of clouds drifted across the blue sky.  Key City signPerfect weather for a road trip.  So, on a holiday outing to New Jersey, we stopped for breakfast at a noted area landmark – the Key City Diner in Phillipsburg.

The restaurant’s hostess showed us to an isolated corner booth in the half-filled restaurant.  (We would regret not asking for a more noticeable table.)  From the large menu of appealing breakfast entrees, we chose quickly then turned our attention to the morning newspaper.   Well over ten minutes had passed when we realized a waitress had not yet made an appearance.   We were about to go searching when a red-shirted young woman appeared.   In apology she said, “I didn’t know you were here.”  We asked for coffee and water then placed our orders.

As we waited for our drinks, M. continued skimming the newspaper while I glanced around at the classic diner decor.  Key City outsideRoomy and bright, Key City is surrounded by windows.   Established in 1955, it sparkles with mirrored walls, formica and shiny stainless.   An airy, traditional New Jersey diner.

Another five minutes passed before our water finally arrived, followed by our coffee.  Scattered across the dining room, two larger parties and several couples talked, laughed, and enjoyed their meals.  A more experienced waitress efficiently handled their orders.

When our food came – steak and eggs for M., scrambled eggs for me – our waitress said she forgot our toast and would bring it right away.  breakfast 228After she’d left, I realized she’d also forgotten the sausage links I had ordered.  Meanwhile, M. began eating.  The homefries were well browned, crisp and tasty.  M.’s large steak was juicy and medium rare, as he’d asked.   My sausage links, once they arrived, were superb.

Mid-way through our meal, our coffee cups were empty; we awaited a refill.  Through the mirrored wall, I spied our waitress gazing out the window.  I motioned but she wandered away.   Finally, we signaled to the other waitress for more coffee.  She left to call our server then returned with a coffee pot.  Just then our waitress also showed up, pot in hand.

The Key City has a fine reputation.  The atmosphere is appealing and our food was very good.  Based on past experience for lunch, service has generally been friendly and quick.  Whatever the reason on this visit, service was sufficiently lacking that I felt it should be commented on.

Our total bill for a large breakfast steak, two eggs, homefries and toast, and two scrambled eggs, homefries, two sausage links and toast, and two cups of coffee (one refill each), came to just under $22 (plus tip).

The Key City Diner & Restaurant is located at the junction of Routes 22 and 57 in Phillipsburg, NJ.  908-859-2373.  They offer take-out, and are open 24 hours.


Key City Diner on Urbanspoon


“How do you choose a diner to review?” a friend asked.   westgate-diner2Answering took a few minutes.  Sometimes it’s geography, based on a morning’s errands.  Or we might pull a name from others’ suggestions.   On occasion, it’s pure happenstance.  That’s how we ended up at the Westgate Diner this morning.  We just sort of happened upon it.  A happy surprise.

Westgate Diner sits in a southwestern styled building at the angled corner of Schoenersville and breakfast-1631Catasauqua Roads in Bethlehem, catty-corner from the Westgate Mall.  Not a huge parking lot, but adequate for the seating inside.  The southwest theme is carried into the dining room in color and style.

On walking in, we were met with a warm smile and promptly seated at a booth under a rounded window adorned with tied-back curtains.  A dozen or so customers were chatting and enjoying their meals.  Our genial waitress handed us menus and took our requests for coffee and water.

The two-page menu held the usual breakfast assortment – egg dishes including omelets, pancakes, French Toast, and various sides.  No sausage links we learned, only patties which was fine with me.  M. ordered one of his favorites – steak and eggs.

As we sipped our coffee (superbly brewed!) and browsed through the morning news, more folks arrived.  Gatherings of families and friends, couples, and obvious old-time regulars.  breakfast-1593Soon our food arrived on heated plates.   Almost immediately, we knew we’d found a jewel.

M.’s steak was a good-size breakfast steak, medium rare as ordered, with two large poached eggs on top, perfectly cooked and steaming.  His steak was tender and tasty.  Both of us were awed over the homefries, fresh, hot, and deep golden brown.  My scrambled eggs were moist and filled with flavor, and the large sausage patty nicely cooked.   When our waitress arrived to refill our coffee, we offered our compliments to the cook, something we don’t often do.  “He is good,” she said, smiling.  I added, “One of the best we’ve found,” (and meant it!).

Our total bill came to $18 (plus tip) for steak, two eggs, homefries, and wheat toast for M. and two scrambled eggs, homefries, sausage patty, and wheat toast for me, plus our two coffees with refills.

What is it that sets one diner apart?  The service?  Atmosphere?  Food?  Whatever it might be, we’re pleased to have found it this morning at the Westgate Diner.  I hope you’ll visit this hidden gem among the Valley’s diners.

The Westgate Diner is located at 1267 Birchwood Drive, Bethlehem, PA.  610-865-5562.  They are open 7 days a week from 6:30 am to 9:00 pm.


West Gate Diner on Urbanspoon

Saturday morning shopping took my husband and me to Easton. On our way, weTic Toc Sign decided to stop for breakfast at the Tic Toc Family Restaurant, located near the intersection of Highway 22 and 25th Street. It had been a while since we’d eaten at the Tic Toc, long before Pennsylvania’s restaurant smoking ban went into effect.

We arrived soon after 9:30 AM and were surprised to see that the parking lot was only about a quarter-filled. Unusual for a Saturday morning. Either the rainy weather or the economy seemed to be keeping people away.

Inside, the manager offered us a choice of booths in the now smoke-free restaurant. We chose one near the front window, looking out onto the damp Tic Toc Restaurantand dreary day. But the day brightened some when our cordial waitress set two cups of steaming coffee in front of us then took our order. The Tic Toc’s breakfast menu is a typical diner menu, and includes an extensive assortment of omelettes and other egg offerings, French Toast, waffles, and side dishes. The Belgian Waffles caught my eye today, while my husband ordered steak and eggs.

As we waited for our food, two silver-haired ladies and their middle-aged sons and daughters were seated nearby. What a wonderful sight, seeing them talking, laughing, and eating together. There is something special about taking elderly parents out for breakfast, both in their enjoyment and your own.

Tic Toc BreakfastOur food soon arrived. My husband’s steak was medium rare, as he’d requested. His home fries and toast were nicely browned, but he said the potatoes tasted of onions and his eggs were small. My Belgian Waffle was warm and tasty. The bacon, however, was greasy and overly chewy. Service was good. Although our waitress was busy with the large family and other new customers, she kept our coffee cups filled.

Our total bill came to just under $18 (plus tip) for steak, eggs, home fries, toast, a Belgian Waffle and side order of bacon, and two cups of coffee. The food ranged from fair to good. Our waitress was both pleasant and attentive.

The Tic Toc Family Restaurant is located at 2510 Northampton Street in Easton, PA. They are open 24 hours.


Tic TOC Family Restaurant on Urbanspoon

breakfast-046The New City View Diner sits proudly at the top of the hill on MacArthur Road in Whitehall, just north of Highway 22. Given its fantastic view of Allentown, it is aptly named. Since we were driving to the Lehigh Valley Mall area, the City View seemed a natural place for us to enjoy a leisurely Saturday breakfast. Apparently many others felt the same because, in spite of the sad downturn in the economy, the large restaurant was nearly filled when we arrived just before 10 this morning. No waiting though. We were seated immediately at one of the few vacant tables.

With its Art Deco influence, this Greek diner is both bright and clean. The long walls breakfast-049of windows bring the outdoors inside. The day’s dark clouds and drizzling rain didn’t dampen the warm, inviting feel in the large dining room. Our tall, young waitress quickly brought us our cups of coffee and glasses of water.

The City View’s breakfast menu contains a broad selection of eggs, a variety of pancakes and French Toast with a number of fruit toppings, as well as many other breakfast specialties. The rainy autumn weather seemed to call for a hearty breakfast. I chose a bacon and cheddar omelette. My husband ordered steak and eggs.

As we waited for our meal we skimmed through the morning papers. We especially noted the sad news about the death of historian and retired history teacher, James Wright. Among his other accomplishments, he was a published author who had written historical articles for the Express-Times for over 30 years. Mr. Wright left a solid legacy and he will be missed. Somehow, the day’s rain seemed appropriate. Our condolences go to his family.

Soon, our poised waitress was presenting our breakfast on hot, white plates. My husband’s strip steak was steaming and medium rare. He enjoyed it along breakfast-045with his eggs, homefries, and wheat toast. My bacon omelette and potatoes filled my plate providing more than I could eat. The food was hot, not greasy, and totally delicious. In spite of the now packed restaurant, our waitress checked back frequently as we ate, keeping our coffee and water glasses filled.

Our total bill came to just over $17 (plus tip) for steak, eggs, homefries, and toast plus a bacon omelette, homefries, and toast, as well as two coffees with ample refills. Considering the tastiness of the food, the warm atmosphere, and the fine service, it was well worth the cost.

The New City View Diner is located at 1831 MacArthur Road in Whitehall, PA. It is open 24 hours and provides a nice spot for breakfast, or any other meal. Click comments (above) to share your own experiences there.


New City View Diner on Urbanspoon

Hartman’s Family Restaurant and Ice Cream Shoppe has a homey quality, unusual for such a large restaurant. Their decor is comfortable with wooden spindle-back chairs and wall-mounted antiques. Their home-cooked food is appealing and satisfying. Whenever we’ve visited for lunch or dinner, we’ve wondered why they don’t serve breakfast.

Well, now they do! As of this past summer, Memorial weekend we were told, Hartman’s started serving breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays, from 8 AM to 1 PM. My husband and I couldn’t be more pleased.

As we drove north on Sullivan Trail this morning, the sky was slightly overcast and the road damp with remnants of last night’s rain. Our talk centered around Hurricane Ike. Four million without power. Makes one glad to live in Pennsylvania, although our thoughts surely go out to those in Texas.

When we pulled into Hartman’s parking lot shortly before 9 AM, we saw only a few cars. Then we spotted the large “Open” signs mounted on the doors. I wonder how many don’t know about the new weekend hours.

After we were seated, our waitress quickly brought our coffee and large glasses of water. The one-page menu is deceptive in its simplicity. While many places offer a long list of various omelettes, Hartman’s offers a 3-egg omelette with your choice of three fillings. But it was the Belgian waffles that caught my eye, especially the one with ice cream. Hartman’s is famous for their ice cream. They’ve been making it since 1906. For some reason – still wondering why – I went with my usual breakfast fare – scrambled eggs, home fries, bacon, although I did order a blueberry muffin for a change of pace.

While waiting for our order, we chatted about various news stories – teachers’ strikes in Souderton, in Saucon Valley, and possibly in Northampton. And we talked of the upcoming football season and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ history. Suddenly, our friendly waitress was delivering our food.

My husband orders steak and eggs about once a month. It was time. As he sliced into his thin rib-eye, he said it was a little overcooked (it wasn’t bleeding), but still tasty. My eggs were moist and filled with flavor, among the best I’ve eaten in a long while. The blueberry muffin was still warm – light, homemade and filled with fresh blueberries. Delicious! The home fries were thinly sliced, different from most places. We’d asked for crispy and they were, yet not overcooked. Wonderful flavor.

Great service, great atmosphere, great food! What more can one ask?

Our bill came to just under $20 (plus tip) for a small rib-eye steak, eggs, toast, and homefries for him, and eggs, homefries, and bacon for me, plus two blueberry muffins and two coffees (with ample refills).

Hartman’s Family Restaurant and Ice Cream Shoppe is located at 5920 Sullivan Trail, Nazareth (Belfast), PA. They are open for breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays from 8 am to 1 pm. They are also open for lunch and dinner seven days a week.


P.S. I’m still thinking of that Belgian Waffle with ice cream. Maybe next time!

UPDATE On December 14, 2009, Hartman’s Family Restaurant closed its doors, as reported by the Express-Times. Sad to see another restaurant close.

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A thought

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?" ........... "What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?" ...... "I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet. ... Pooh nodded thoughtfully. "It's the same thing," he said.” ...... ― A.A. Milne
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