9. Empire Diner is One of NYC’s Last Standalone Diners

Empire Diner
Empire Diner.

Empire Diner in Chelsea is one of the city’s historic retro diners, and one of the city’s last standalone diners. It was constructed by the Fodero Dining Car Company in 1946. Empire Diner is located at 210 Tenth Avenue and features an Art Moderne exterior that has featured in many films and television programs. However, the diner’s history has not been smooth; it was nearly abandoned after closing in 1976, and the greasy spoon was renovated by three new owners as part of the “Chelsea Renaissance.” Instead of serving traditional diner fare, the owners transformed it into an upscale restaurant with “highbrow-lowbrow fusion.”

After a rather successful run and a few shifts in ownership, the diner closed again in 2010, but just a few months later, Gotham City Restaurant Group opened a new restaurant at the site, the Highliner. The restaurant then reopened under the name Empire Diner in 2014 but shut down again a. year later. Now, Empire Diner serves a rather expensive menu of diner fare and American bistro cooking, featuring newer additions such as small plates and mains including cavatelli with truffle butter and broccolini pesto, fried chicken, and lobster BLTs.