It’s hard to imagine a restaurant with a more famous facade. This humble diner on the corner of 112th Street and Broadway has people descending on it from all over the world. ‘They land at JFK and take a cab right here’, the owner tells me. And Arabella and I also had Tom’s Restaurant on our list of ‘must-see’ places while in New York.
The restaurant scenes for the very first episode of Seinfeld were filmed at Tom’s Restaurant. The facade continued to appear in every subsequent episode and with the popularity of the show, the building has become iconic. After shooting the first episode an identical replica of the interior of the diner was built in Hollywood. Sadly, due to a number of renovations the interior today is no longer as it appears in Seinfeld, however, that doesn’t stop the tourists from arriving.
While sitting up at the bar (there’s a $7.00 charge to sit in a booth) we met a tourist from Toronto who told us he was there because of Seinfeld and then a back-packer arrived who sat at the bar and asked, ‘Is this the diner in Seinfeld?’ The staff are only too happy to answer questions and share their Seinfeld connection.
Then a film crew arrived and shot a scene outside the building for a documentary. The reporter was telling the camera the story of how this is the restaurant from Seinfeld and how the word ‘Tom’s’ doesn’t appear in the TV show as they wanted the restaurant to be ‘more generic’.
There’s plenty of Seinfeld memorabilia inside the restaurant. There’s photos of Jerry taken at the diner, autographed photographs of the cast and you can purchase t-shirts and other souvenirs. When I told Carl he asked if I bought him the T-shirt. Whoops! Might have to go back for another visit.
The menu at Tom’s Restaurant is large, covered in plastic and busy with lots of fonts and colours and descriptions and images. It’s a mess to look at! Once your eyes have settled down you’ll find all that is typical of American diner-fare. There’s the burgers and fries, the omelettes, sandwiches, salads, onion rings and wraps. You can have a range of soft drinks that come with one complimentary refill. There’s the ‘famous’ milkshake and the apple pies and the cheesecake and brewed coffee. All the portions are overly generous and the prices cheap. You can have a cup of soup for $2.00 or if you’d prefer it in a bowl it costs $3.00.
The food arrives quickly. We ordered the buffalo wings that arrived on a plate decorated with iceberg lettuce. They were served piping hot with a spicy aioli-styled dipping sauce and we loved them.
We ordered a bacon and egg roll that came with very crispy bacon (bordering on dry) and an egg we felt was over-cooked. (I do like a runny egg yolk even in a bread roll.)
We couldn’t leave without trying the ‘famous’ milkshake. There are lots of flavours to choose from. We asked for butter pecan but they’d unfortunately run out of that flavour. I was keen to try the cherry vanilla flavour but Arabella gave that idea the thumbs-down so we settled on vanilla. It was a wonderful milkshake that was loaded with ice cream so was more like a thick-shake. It was so generous in size we shared it between us.
The staff at Tom’s Restaurant are friendly and give good customer service. As we were leaving and more and more tourists were arriving and having their photo taken in front of the famous facade. I’m quite sure that when the owners opened the diner, they had no idea that in just a few years, their little restaurant would be known and visited by people from all over the globe.
Verdict: For lovers of Seinfeld, Tom’s Restaurant is a must-see.
Tom’s Restaurant: Cnr 112th Street and Broadway, New York, New York.
Ph: (212) 864 6137
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