2016-12-14 / Restaurant of the Week


To call Dinerbar a ‘diner’ would be like calling a Ferrari a Ford. This gem of a new restaurant opened last July on Queens Blvd in Rego Park and has redefined casual dining. The gorgeous, modern, sleek décor suits this decidedly upscale ‘diner’ with its very handsome bar lit by Tiffany style lamps and muted screens for game watching. There are both tables and banquettes, dressed in a retro plaid motif with soft, pretty lighting and nice background music with which to enjoy their exceptionally good cuisine. The Queens Chamber of Commerce will soon bestow Dinerbar with an architectural award for its beautiful design, rendered by Josh Nathanson of his Rhode Island firm.

The Gatanas Family has a long history of successful diners with their popular “Tower Diner” just down the road on Queens Blvd. Brothers Spiro and John have set out to create something unique, more upscale, while keeping prices low and the atmosphere casual. Spiro’s lovely wife Kelly, and General Manager Elias, do a fantastic job of keeping everything running smoothly while Chef Kurt performs magic in the kitchen.

Start with one of their signature cocktails such as the ‘Evil Touch’ made with rye, fresh grapefruit juice, and lime for a slightly sweet and tangy concoction. My pomegranate margarita was perfectly mixed and served with a sugar-rimmed glass. ‘Love on the Rocks’ gets a kick from tequila, lime, agave syrup, and port wine, and the beer selection is great. Happy Hour runs from 4-7pm so when you get out of the subway at 63rd Drive, you are just steps away from happiness and fine food.

We started with crab cakes that were full of lump crab meat and fresh herbs, perfectly pan-fried to golden crispiness ($12). The firecracker shrimp is a house favorite, made with sweet and hot chili sauce that isn’t overpowering so you could taste the freshness of the shrimp. Roasted fish tacos or grilled steak tacos are freshly prepared and filled with avocado, spicy cabbage slaw, and salsa, available with a gluten free tortilla if you wish ($9). The short rib sliders are such a treat, served on a mini brioche bun with grilled pineapple and slaw. I’ll talk more about those short ribs in a moment. Everyone loves the truffle mac and cheese bites made with three kinds of cheese, and the cornmeal-dusted calamari. All the starters are ideally portioned for sharing.

Elizabeth, our super pleasant waitress, swiftly cleared our plates to make room for the entrees that came piping hot to our table. Elias suggested the skirt steak, and he didn’t have to twist my companion’s arm to try it. There it was, a perfectly cooked, juicy, tender skirt steak topped with aromatic chimichurri sauce, and served with oven roasted potatoes and a mélange of fresh market vegetables. I had his leftovers for lunch the next day and can say that this was an exceptionally good steak. There’s also a ribeye that rivals those in fine restaurants, and sweet and spicy pork chops au jus with apple onion relish ($22). Back to the short ribs, I ordered the braised short rib entrée with gremolata, a haute cuisine garnish made from parsley, garlic, and lemon zest, accompanied by creamy polenta and perfectly sautéed broccoli rabe. I took one bite of the succulent meat that gently eased away from its bone and declared, “This ain’t no diner!” One would expect a dish of this caliber in a fancy Manhattan restaurant at twice the price. Roasted salmon with honey wasabi glaze, homemade spinach pasta with shrimp, tomato, and wine sauce, and a grilled vegetable platter are also available. If you’re looking for some classics, there’s a modern version of chicken parmigiana, meatloaf prepared as an individual portion, and fish and chips.

Each night of the week features a special dish, such as fettuccine bolognese on Mondays, buttermilk fried chicken with crispy kale on Tuesdays, and grilled halibut on Fridays. Though we could barely breathe, Spiro said the peach and berry crisp with vanilla ice cream should not be missed. At the same time, Elias said the apple and cinnamon empanadas should not be missed, so guess what? We tried both of them, and were glad we did, just for a taste of these delicious confections.

At the back of the restaurant, lies “The Market,” with its own entrance from the street. The Market offers gourmet fast meals, soups, sandwiches, sweets, and coffee drinks to take out or to eat in at the bistro tables. Open for breakfast, try a biscuit sandwich with cheddar, egg, and bacon, assorted fresh muffins, croissant sandwich, or vegan protein balls made from peanut butter and oatmeal. The burgers and sandwiches are great, all made with fresh ingredients, served with a small garden salad or shoestring fries. Smoothies and milkshakes taste great any time of day to stop in on your way to work.

Dinerbar is a unique concept that combines two iconic words: diner + bar = dinerbar. They are open seven days a week from 8am to midnight for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and brunch every day. They will arrange your private party in the lovely dining room, or can cater off-premises to your location for your next business lunch, office party, holiday feast, or family event. Dinerbar is definitely a great ‘date spot’ so impress her with the casual elegance, cocktails, and fine cuisine. They will be closed on Christmas Day but open on New Year’s Day so start the new year off with a great meal at Dinerbar. Stop in anytime for a quick meal at The Market, a drink at the cozy bar, or a full meal with family and friends. Dinerbar isn’t your grandmother’s diner…it’s fresh, exciting, and waiting to welcome you.

97-45 Queens Boulevard
Rego Park  718.897.6000

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