Ellen’s Stardust Diner: Worth an Hour & a Half Wait?

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Okay, local New Yorkers — what’s the most touristy thing you’ve ever done in NYC? Visited the Empire State Building? Cruised around Manhattan on the Circle Line? Maybe even ice skated at Rockefeller Center during the holiday madness?

Well, I have one to top them all. This past weekend, I took Mr. P and Augusten to stand in line for an hour and a half (yes, really) to eat diner food. Yep, no other than Ellen’s Stardust Diner, home of the singing waitstaff! This has been high on my list of “must dos” since I basically moved to the city, but the problem is that I detest standing in lines, especially for food.

But then I shifted my thinking, and decided to look at the wait as part of the experience. We chatted with tourists, took pictures for them, played “I spy with my little eye” with Augusten for a really long time. And then it got to the point where we were like, “Well, we’ve waited this long we’re NOT turning back now!” So we kept standing.

Finally, we reached the front, and EVENTUALLY, a party of three opened up. Augusten was smitten from the moment we walked in, there was confetti being thrown, people singing and dancing, pretty much non-stop entertainment. And truth be told, I adored it (probably even more) than he did. As my husband put it:

It’s like karaoke, but with really, really, really good singers.

The food was exactly what you’d expect for midtown diner food (read: mediocre, overpriced, and not healthy in the least.) But again, you’re not really coming here for the food, are you

Verdict: Would I come again, and would I suggest you go too? A resounding YES and YES.It was so much fun getting serenaded with non-stop entertainment, everything from today’s top pop to Broadway’s finest. And there was no point in the experience where we felt rushed, which was a huge plus. (And trust me, Augusten eats his noodles ONE AT A TIME…they were very patient with us;-)

A few tips before you go:

–Dress for the weather! We were only about half way down the block when we started waiting in line, and it legit took an hour and a half to get in. If it’s winter, bundle up. Summer, bring water.

–If you’re going to take turns standing in line and walking around, just make sure your entire party is there by the time you creep to the front. If not, they will pass right on over you to the next full party, YIKES!

–Make friends with people in line around you and if a table for six pops up before your table of three, consider eating together (there won’t be a ton of talking going on anyway, you’ll be focused on the music!)

–There seemed to be lots of tables for two available while we were standing in line, so you’ll probably get in faster as a party of two.

–The restaurant adds in an automatic 20% gratuity, and you are encouraged to drop bills into the “Broadway Bucket”, which goes towards helping the waitstaff pay for singing, dancing, and acting classes. So consider bringing some small bills, too.

Jessica Tiare Bowen
Jessica Tiare Bowen lives in the juicy Big Apple with her adorable pink-nosed chihuahua, Gillman. He's the inspiration for her first published children's book, "Park Avenue Pound Puppy." The book is the combined result of her two greatest passions: pooches and penning stories.

Her passions include art, urban hikes through Manhattan, drinking coffee with 3 creams and 6 sugars, making extremely detailed itineraries and traveling to far away places, singing along to Broadway shows, Netflix movie nights, discovering incredible treasures at Goodwill and thrift stores, and listening to stories from little people under 7 and big people over 70.

She started her career as New York City Teaching Fellow, teaching elementary school and theater arts at a special education school in the South Bronx for 6 years. She is now a Special Education School Improvement Specialist working in public schools throughout New York City. She is the Editor-In-Chief of the online New York City travel magazine, Used York City. The magazine focuses on finding the best of New York...as used by New Yorkers. She is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and an ASPCA Ambassador.
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