On our way to cover the NEA JazzMasters in NYC every year, the intrepid Miss Julie and I always make a point to stop along the way, take a break from the New Jersey Turnpike, and have an invigorating breakfast at the Hightstown Diner. It may not be the original, classic structure, pictured on so many vintage postcards, but it is friendly, charmingly local, the coffee is good, and the experience is what we all go to diners for! Just off exit 8, the sad and long abandoned Mom’s sits in the shadow of the new exit overpass, the reminder of tasty pancakes from my youthful trips to Maine, but an extra 5 minutes into town still yields the goods of small town eats in a wasteland of fast food franchises. Check it out, it’s a great treat! photo ablogdiner2.jpg
Long closed, Mom’s! the name said it all! photo adinerblogIMG_7005.jpg photo ablogdiner3.jpg
You gotta love the art at Mom’s photo ablogdiner8.jpg
Even though the new “Enviornmental” style facade can’t really compete with the original, it still has certain charms photo ablogdiner5.jpg
A great breakfast and never-ending coffee,with plenty of bacon  photo ablogdiner6.jpg
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We only stop here once a year, and run into this fun & friendly father and son every time! What are the chances? Dad, checking out the chicken sandwich on a diner’s plate- “Somethings wrong with that chicken!” Son “What?” Dad- “It’s DEAD!” Same joke every year, too funny.



Back on the road, this time to beautiful San Francisco! Thousands of images to sort through, but while we wait, let’s match the Bay area greasy spoon to the breakfast standard of bacon & eggs, with a hot cup of Joe!
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The Java House, The Pinecrest Restaurant and It’s Tops! All Tops in my book!


It’s always a good day when I can go out exploring the great American roadside with my son, The Diner Hunter. This has been a tradition of ours since he was but a lad, and now that he’s an acknowledged expert in the field, it is all the more fun. As a pre-Christmas holiday treat, we headed to the Harrisburg, PA. area for a return trip to Kuppy’s, a great little Ward & Dickinson diner which opened in 1933. It was a hoppin’ place on a chilly Thursday morning, full of spirited local conversation, but we warmed right up with some hot and tasty coffee, and a breakfast which couldn’t be beat. Spencer had the baked oatmeal, with brown sugar and blueberries, a regional Amish delight and I tucked in to a traditional bacon & eggs, with plenty of perfectly crisp bacon. Yum, yum! It must make old Carelton Towers’ mouth water just to think about it. Diners of Pennsylvania writers Brian Butko, Kevin Patrick and Kyle Weaver like it here…. and so do we.Photobucket
Not much to look at on the outside, but a great neon sign
Photobucket Owner Greg Kupp keeps things happening behind the counterPhotobucket
Getting hungry again just thinking about it!Photobucket
Keep your sunnyside upPhotobucket
Don’t forget to try a Grilled Rachel


The old chestnut “You can’t judge a book by its cover” has been flogged to death, but sometimes the truth of this adage proves to be illuminatingly true. I’ve lived in our small corner of the Washington suburbs for years and for much of that time I have passed by what appeared to be a derelict and abandoned gas station/country convenience store. The gas pumps have been dry for years, the dust from the nearby fields clogging the nozzles, the windows dark and devoid of the normal signs of commercial life, and, on the one or two occasions I had stuck my head through the front door in search of a quick caffeine fix, I had been greeted with a view of near empty shelves of sugar charged kid’s cereal and coolers of lonely night crawlers awaiting the next desperate fisherman. And yet, some mornings I would pass by the intersection of Georgia and New Hampshire Avenues, and the cracked and pot-holed lot would be filled with a curious mix of shiny new Mercedes sedans and the odd assortment of landscaping trucks and massive Harley cruisers. “What gives?”, I asked myself. “Is there something inside this cinder block box that I’m missing?”
Well, when my son, The Diner Hunter and I finally got past the aging shelves and dusty boxes of crackers, we discovered a roadside dining treasure right in our own backyard, for at the back of this seemingly empty gas station was a four stool grill that dished out a breakfast that could not be beat- and the best burgers on the planet! There are no menus, no checks, no credit cards, no receipts- you clear your own plates, you call out your orders to the ladies behind the chipped and pitted counter. If you get a seat, just if, you could be sitting next to the burly tattooed dude from the bobber outside, the stylish and wealthy matron who owns the 200 acre horse stables nestled off the main road, a world weary musician, or a group of chattering high school lovers, lost in a universe of their own as they dig into a half pound of ground beef, cheese, fried onions and bacon guaranteed to clog even the healthiest arteries. Nothing about the Sunshine Store speaks to a healthy diet, this is a coronary on a plate, but you will never find a tastier meal. A vegetarian friend pronounced the french toast the best he had ever tasted, all the while eyeing the rows of sizzling bacon with wistful envy.
And, if you are a people watcher, every visit comes with a floor show, whether from the good natured banter between the gals at the grill, or between the diners themselves. This is not a diner, nor really a lunch counter, but it has all the best hallmarks of both. It is a spot of true egalitarian community, an authentic crossroads dive and a sadly vanishing bit of Americana, especially on the outskirts of the Nation’s Capitol. If your Roadside experience needs some brightening up- come on out to Sunshine, put your heart healthy diet on hold and get it while you can. ….and be sure to bring cash, you won’t need much, but they don’t accept plastic. It’s just not that kind of a place.


“Thanks for the coffee, hon”, muttered Barnswell Chesterfield, as the bleary eyed blonde set a sloshing cup onto the diner’s counter. With vaguely disguised amusement, his friend Carleton Towers watched as Barney proceeded to put first one, then two, then three, four and finally five spoonfuls of sugar into the noxious black brew.
“Sweet enough for you?” asked Carleton, shaking his head in disgust. “Kind of defeats the purpose, don’t it? I thought coffee was supposed to be bitter, kinda like your ex-wife.”
“Well, shit, Carl, she might’a been a little sweeter, too. At least to me. I think she saved all that for the fellow she run off with from down the plant. Doubt that’ll last too long, though. He’ll wise up soon enough.”
The waitress returned with two orders of bacon, eggs, hashbrowns and scrapple, the grease fairly dripping off the plates as she dropped the orders in front of the hungry men.
“Get ‘cha anything else? Enjoy,” she asked in a bored monotone, as she scooted away without waiting for an answer. There was a boisterous, more handsome group of young men sitting at the other end, certainly more entertaining than these two old buffalos. Probably better tippers, too.
Barney eyed the food with suspicion, wondering what was actually in that brown patty that purported to be made from actual meat. Tasted good, though, and the scrapple here was a guilty pleasure that he allowed himself from time to time, Doctor’s orders be damned. He was a free man and could do as he pleased, and he and Carl were off to an early start for a relaxing day of fishing and beer, so cholesterol be damned. The weather today was predicted to be cool and clear, and Chesterfield was looking forward to kicking back and putting the world’s troubles behind him and dreaming of a couple of big, fat rockfish.
“You gonna finish that?” asked Carl as he reached out into the shiney puddle of grease in which floated a last piece of bacon.
“ You fat fuck, keep your hands to yourself……..” Barney started to reply, while at the same instant a commotion erupted from the other end of the counter. The waitress recoiled from the group of young bucks, and a surprisingly muffled series of pop, pop, pops filled the confined space of the diner. Barnswell’s head exploded in a mist of red as he fell face first into the remains of his breakfast.
Upon first surveying the scene, Detective Sergeant Turnbuckle’s first thought was, “……always wondered what was in scrapple.”

Copyright 2011 Michael G. Stewart – may not be reproduced without permission