2010-01-06 / Restaurant of the Week

Court Square Diner...A Classic

The Court Square Diner in Long Island City is a classic diner with a modern attitude. This classic diner was established in 1946 and has seen its share of history in this ever-changing community. Current owners, Steve and Nick Kanellos, took over in 1991 and recently underwent


extensive renovations to update the diner’s interior and menu, while maintaining the classic retro diner look that is uniquely American. Shiny granite countertops gleam against sparkling stainless steel fixtures lit by sleek, hand-blown, suspended light fixtures. Warm accent walls of green and rust and tiles create a cozy atmosphere for the booths up front. In the back, a separate dining room is nice and quiet and can accommodate a private party. Court Square Diner was recently the setting for the filming of a scene in the hit show “30 Rock”. What could be more New York?

The Kanellos brothers’ goal is to keep prices low while maintaining the highest quality in all they do. They buy from the best purveyors to provide the freshest ingredients possible to create their delicious dishes, which include classic American diner dishes, Greek dishes, Hispanic favorites and more, to satisfy the diverse clientele it serves. They are also proud to be the only diner in the area open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including holidays! We all benefit from such consideration and I urge you to visit soon. It couldn’t be easier to reach, literally at the bottom of the steps of the 7 train, and one block from the G and V trains. If you can’t get there, they will come to you with free delivery to your home or office. Full-service catering is available too, so make your next business or family event extra special.

Enough about that…let’s move on to the food. We started with a platter of freshly wrapped grape leaves stuffed with rice and herbs, surrounded by wedges of savory feta cheese and tomatoes. Their crispy chicken wings and drumettes had a spicy, crunchy breading on them that was addictive. Quesadillas are filled with jack cheese and chicken, if you like, then served with house made guacamole, salsa and sour cream and offer plenty to share ($7.25). Fried calamari are golden and crisp, served with marinara sauce, and the kids love the mozzarella sticks and chicken fingers with dipping sauce ($6.45). Hearty soups are made each day, such as chicken orzo, lentil and beef barley. There’s even a full cocktail bar, mixing up your favorites, as well as beers and wines to complement your meal.

There are different dinner specials each night of the week and they change each week, so there’s always something new to try. I devoured a traditional roast turkey dinner with house made apple raisin stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce and a side of fresh broccoli. My friend dug into a huge plate of chicken San Francisco, which was made with sliced, grilled chicken breast, sun-dried tomatoes, asparagus and mushrooms with creamy garlic sauce over a mound of perfectly cooked ziti pasta. Both dishes left plenty for the next day’s lunch. You might also find steak Louisiana with spicy Cajun seasoning, classic meat loaf and mashed potatoes, juicy lamb chops and a Greek specialty such as moussaka or pastitsio. The nightly fish specials are all ocean fresh and prepared to order. All dinner specials come with homemade soup or salad, a side of vegetables and choice of potato. Most complete dinners cost less than $17, making Court Square an economical choice for working folks like us.

The regular menu features slow-cooked roasts from $8.95 to $11.95 such as roast top sirloin of beef au jus, roast fresh ham and a perfectly roasted half chicken. Two juicy pork chops come with apple sauce and your choice of sides, as does the 16-ounce NY shell steak, cooked to order. Sautée specials include chicken piccata with fresh mushrooms, capers and lemon white wine sauce. Shrimp a la Court takes jumbo shrimp sautéed with tomato, garlic and feta cheese over linguine ($13.95). Fillet of sole can be broiled straight up, or stuffed with savory crabmeat and bread crumbs, or fried until golden and crisp. The fisherman’s platter combines shrimp, scallops, fillet and clams, and is prepared either fried or broiled and served with house made fries.

At lunch time, the grill sizzles with juicy 8-ounce burgers topped as you like. A hot open roast beef sandwich hits the spot in the middle of your day, or wrap your hands around a triple decker sandwich layered with turkey, Virginia ham and cheese, roast beef and Swiss or chicken salad. Court Square makes delicious specialty sandwiches, such as the tuna melt or chicken salad melt. One of my favorite sandwiches is the Reuben, with corned beef, sauerkraut and melted Swiss cheese. Many of your favorite items can be piled into a delicious wrap, such as the chicken Caesar wrap with lettuce, tomato, Romaine lettuce and classic Caesar dressing.

Start your day with breakfast at Court Square Diner, where the eggs are whipped up into delicious omelets, served on platters with potatoes and toast, or piled onto fresh rolls to go. Pancakes, French toast and Belgian waffles are available 7 days a week, but there is an extra special brunch served on Saturdays and Sundays from 9am to 3pm.

For dessert or anytime you crave a sweet snack, you can’t go wrong with any of the desserts at Court Square Diner, since they are all made on the premises. It had been a while since I had a hunk of classic NY style cheesecake and this was one of the best with its creamy texture and light finish. I like strawberries on top but purists can order it plain. Brownies a la mode are great for sharing, but you won't want anyone to touch your chocolate Èclair, filled with light cream. The coffee’s good too!

Since 1946, Court Square Diner has been part of the Long Island City community. The Kanellos brothers invite you to make it part of your dining repertoire. With great food, nightly specials, quality ingredients, fast, friendly service, a full bar, weekend brunch, catering, and open 24/7, there’s no reason not to!
45-30 23rd Street, Long Island City
718. 392. 1222

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