Those of us who grew up in this fine city remember sitting at lunch counters, eating honest tuna melts with our dads when we were young. And our dads, even then, were lamenting the loss of so many luncheonettes.
Eisenberg’s may be your only form of solace, until now. I recently happened upon Johnny’s, one of the few remaining luncheonettes, and one of the only restaurants left in Manhattan that does not bare a Time Out New York sticker in its window.
The menu at Johny’s is too big to sample in a couple of visits, so I stuck to the most critical aspect of lunch counter dining: breakfast, which of course is served all day.
Johny, who has a heart tattooed on his forearm with the name “Melissa” over it, is a master of sandwiches, and an egg sandwich ($2.75) here is superior in every way. He breaks the yokes so they don’t run all over the place but doesn’t cook them hard, like most places do.
The Lumberjack ($6), not to be confused with the Bigman Breakfast ($7.50), is three pancakes, bacon or sausage, and two eggs. We went over-easy, sausage. Everything was just right (eggs gooey, sausages firm, browned, salty) but the pancakes were the standout. The batter looked awfully thin when ladled onto the griddle, but puffed up miraculously after a minute. Johny knew just when to flip them, too.
Johny’s clientele, on a Saturday, was fascinating. There was a tall man with long, thick gray hair and a sweater vest who, when Johny said “Where’ve you been?” explained that he had been in a coma for a while. There was a woman with dreadlocks and a fur coat, who practically whispered her order across the counter (cheeseburger, extra rare), and a man just sipping coffee and grinning. A stroll through the Antiques Garage down the block explained everything. They were all there. And they all said hi.
124 West 25th
between 6th and 7th