Motorcycles, Travel & Adventure
Great roads, superb food, good times - do we need more?
Without any doubt our most popular column. The Great All American Diner Run, or GAADR, gives our readers some of the best places ro ride for a great meal. Whether it be some hidden barbecue in the Adirondacks or a crab place in the Chesapeake, the GAADR gives the very best eateries, and like most things in Backroads, we'll supply a super way to get there as well with our own Rip & Ride® Route Sheets.
I grew up in New York City and have been to the Empire State Building only once; when cousins had come to visit from the ancestral home Scotland. (everyone else comes from a town or region – we Scots all come from an ancestral home)
When I did get to the 86th floor’s observation deck I had to wonder why I had waited so long? Maybe it is that I grew up in our ancestral apartment building in Queens and it was just part of the background fabric.
I kinda feel the same way about this month’s stop on the Great All American Diner Run - the Phoenicia Diner. Why did it take us so long?
We have passed this place countless times, usually on our way somewhere else. When we did stop in the town of Phoenicia it was usually to one of the restaurants on Main Street. The oldish-looking diner, sadly, was ridden by.
But some good old things can become new and greater things.
But first a little background. Like all real diners the Phoenicia has a history. This particular diner was built back in 1962 and moved to the Catskills in the early 80s where it did business for nearly 30 years.
It was then purchased in 2012 by current owner Mike Cioffi, who set about making it what it is today; a Mecca of sorts, and maybe new standard for the cool diner experience.
When Mike took it over the old Phoenicia Diner was stripped down, rethought and renovated and the new Phoenicia Diner took its place.
The doors opened, people came and the word began to spread about just how good the new Phoenicia Diner is.
Shira heard this as well and a number of times had stated we had to drop by and check it out. Well, maybe a bit more than a number of times.
That being the case, while we were on a meandering romp around the Catskills this past summer, I mentioned maybe lunch at the Phoenicia Diner would be an good idea. She was all for it.
My only question now is why did we take so long to come back here?
We had been to this diner many years back and it was a decent, run of the mill, sort of diner. Not a GAADR, by any means.
Well, it is not run of the mill any more.
From its cool “Road Trip” packed station wagon logo, to sourcing most of their ingredients locally, the Phoenicia Diner cries ‘We’re on a Catskill Adventure! Come for the mountains, Stay for the food!’
On occasion we have been impressed with a menu. Although we all know the menu is here to tell you what is available and the price, in some places it can be so much more. In the case of the Phoenicia Diner the menu handles a number of jobs.
First off this carte du jour has a wide array of offerings (some of which we will get right into) and decent prices to go with them; but it also serves as the place mat too. And, across the place mat you will find all that is Catskills - the diner’s history, local happenings, and things to do in the area.
The password for the diner’s wifi is there (it’s the phone number, duh) and a number of other curious tidbits and local information. It is both place mat and local chamber.
Best of all is the breakfast and lunch items that are so neatly listed in its center. To make things easier we’ll just tell you the basics and then a few of the more interesting offerings.
Yup, pancakes, eggs and omelets can be found as well as The Benedicts which can be served with crab cakes, Canadian bacon and smoked salmon.
The Skillets are where things get real interesting, with seven to choose from including duck and grits, Wild Hive polenta and a most excellent dish called the Arnold Bennett – which is a locally smoked trout (and lots of it) with parmesan cheese, crème fraîch scrambled eggs - that Shira ordered immediately and I immediately attacked.
The dish has its own story, as it is said the original trout and eggs dish was created for the novelist by the chefs at the Savoy Hotel in London and Bennett then asked that it be recreated everywhere he went.
Deeelicious…. and, aromatic too.
Rip & Ride • Phoenicia Diner
5681 NY-28, Phoenicia, NY 12464 • 845-688-9957
Rip & Ride: Approx. 95 miles • GPS Download Here
Out of New Jersey on Route 17
Route 17 north past Tuxedo
Bear left onto SR. 19 (right past Red Apple Rest)
Left at 17M
Follow signs to Rte. 208 north
Left at Rte. 52
Right at New Prospect Rd.
Right at Brunynswick Rd.
Left at US 44 over Shawangunks – Great Views
HARD RIGHT – at Granite Rd.
Right on Rte. 209 north
Left at CR 213 (CR4)
Right on Rte. 28A
Follow Road over dam
Left on Rte. 28
Follow signs for Phoenicia (on right)
You will also find breakfast tacos, burritos and smoked trout or salmon with herbed cream cheese, red onion, capers on a Brooklyn bagel.
Moving onto lunch you might like to try their CBLT – crab, bacon, lettuce & tomato on a brioche roll. Maybe a Cubano is more to your liking.
Their fried chicken & waffle sandwich looked appetizing, but this day I stayed reasonable with the classic turkey club that came on a wonderful local bread and was created thick, juicy and faultless.
For you salad lovers (yes, I am slowly joining your ranks) the watermelon and feta cheese with arugula, red onion, almonds and a balsamic vinaigrette sounded enticing – but, you can put feta cheese on road kill and I’d eat it.
When we stopped by the diner, on a summer Sunday afternoon, the place was fairly well packed, but the wait was not long and the staff was as friendly and helpful as can be and seemed to really mean it, unlike the snappy rehearsed BS you can sometimes be fed at some typical diners.
It seems that breakfast is served all day and lunch from noon till closing at 5 pm. They also have a bar, which was neither here nor there, but they did offer something that we might have to investigate at another less motorcycle’ish day.
A bourbon milkshake.
Shira loves milkshakes and she enjoys a good bourbon.
Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
So we let you in on the secret that everyone knew – the Phoenicia Diner rocks and is the place to stop in for breakfast or lunch while scooting around the Route 28 area in the Catskills of New York.
But now we have to give you a ride that is equal to the food.
Moving, interesting and a bit different - and with an excellent finish.
Easy – follow me.
5681 NY-28, Phoenicia, NY 12464 • 845-688-9957