The Only Diner in America You Ever Need to Know About

June 20, 2012 5:52 PM EDT | By Staff Writer
Eggs Benedict
We go beyond the Benedict at O'Rourkes in Middletown, Connecticut (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

I'll admit to being diner-minded today: I did a review of a restaurant named Diner, which isn't a diner proper in spite of taking up space in a converted one. It got me thinking about some of the best diners, proper diners, I've ever been to, which, given how many road trips I went on since coming to America from the Philippines, were numerous.

I started to make a list of the best ones, and this article was originally going to be about the top five. However, given just how good the best one on the list is, it didn't seem fair to put it side-by-side with any of the others. It's not only the best diner I've ever been to, or will ever go to, it's one of the happiest places on earth and one of the most special experiences you'll ever have in a place that serves food.

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The honor belongs to O'Rourkes Diner in Middletown, Connecticut-- just a thirty minute drive from Yale or a ten-minute walk from my alma mater, Wesleyan University. Middletown has some wonderful eats, but no place is more wonderful than this local staple. It burned down the year before I came to school, but thanks to town-gown fundraisers, it was rebuilt from the ground up, and serves patrons the best breakfast foods ever seven days a week.

Before we get into their breakfast stuffs, I have to take a quick break for the steamed cheeseburger, a Connecticut favorite that is the burger equivalent of an anchovy. It's flavorful, but eerily soft-- and for that reason, it's pretty divisive. I'm a big fan, but I was not at first. But if it's your first time in the area, save room for one of these. They're cheap, and it's my understanding that O'Rourkes has the very last word in them.

That's not difficult to believe, considering that they're the very last word in so many foods. An extensive menu with Irish flare and a bold risk here and there, you'll be overwhelmed choosing between twenty different takes on the omelet and ten different takes on the eggs benedict. A little bit of curation: we like the Eggs Oscar, which sees the traditional eggs benedict sub out Canadian bacon for perfectly poached shrimp and asparagus. As far as omelets go, you'll want either "Ethan's Idea," filled with prosciutto, spinach, blue cheese, and poached pear-- or the "Omelet of My Dreams," which has provolone cheese, hollandaise sauce, and (be still my heart!) caramelized onion pesto. How? Why? What?!

The schlep back into New York is the perfect length for you to work off your food coma. But if you really want to commit yourself to the hospital, here's an extra protip: their milkshake is the fairest in the land, no matter the flavor.

From New York: Take the Metro-North to New Haven train station, then split a cab with your friends to Main Street in Middletown, Connecticut. It may seem like a lot to ask for, and it is, but you'll be surprised how often you'll be doing this, and how willing you are to plan your weekend drinking around it.

O'Rourkes Diner

728 Main Street

Middletown, CT 06457


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