Best Diner - 2004
Readers' Choice: Pete's Kitchen
People-watching is an important part of the diner experience. Second to coffee-drinking, it might be the most important part. And if people-watching were a sport, Breakfast King is where future Olympic hopefuls would come to train. The King attracts all sorts, from old farts to young fellas, from truckers to slummers to parents dragging their squalling toddlers behind. Everyone is ably tended to by waitresses (not servers, not waitrons, but old-fashioned waitresses who are good at their jobs and happy doing them) working off a menu that was already old when the King was new -- a time-capsule version of American cuisine, circa 1970, that's full of cheeseburgers and fries, Coney Island hot dogs, chiliette, biscuits and gravy, and ham with pineapple rings. The coffee is strong, the company easy, and no matter what hour you wander in, one thing is certain: It's good to be the King.