East Newark, NJ 07029
- Credit Cards: All Major
- Alcohol: Full Bar
- Parking: Private Lot
- Take Out: Yes
October 17, 2013
Nothing is small at this brilliant, blue neon and chrome-accented diner on the Eastern bank of the Passaic River – not the plates of food, not the line out the door for lunch on weekends, not many of the customers.
Feeling healthy after a local 5k run, I rewarded myself with a trip to Tops Diner and immediately replaced any calories lost, and then some, at this temple of Jersey diner food. Tops is a full service diner. Looking for a martini with your Eggs Benedict? Top’s has a fully stocked bar directly across from its rotating cheesecake display.
The menu, a hefty binder, goes on forever. You can order just about anything at Tops – breakfast, tacos, pizza and pasta, seafood, chicken, steaks and chops and, of course, dessert. The “Bay of Pigs,” for example, is a gargantuan sundae with three flavors of ice cream, a brownie and a chocolate cookie, among other things.
There’s an entire page of specialty burgers, plenty of “Southern” specialties (pulled pork, meatloaf, a shrimp po’ boy sandwich, chicken n’ waffles) and separate sections devoted to french fries (“frites”), cheesesteaks, frozen drinks, and the aforementioned cheesecakes. Yes, there’s also an entire page of “large” salads.
The homemade Lobster Bisque, a thick but not overly floured soup, is justifiably popular. Tops is also a nice place to try a plate of Jersey’s iconic Disco Fries. The savory brown gravy has good flavor and the mozzarella cheese is not overwhelming. I was essentially full after trying the bisque and sharing the fries with my kids. That didn’t stop me from trying the surprisingly good poached eggs with crab hash. Look carefully at the menu, and you can find just about anything.
Tops is very busy on weekends. The 180 seats in two dining rooms fill up fast. Not quite a 24 hour option, Tops is open from 6am daily, until 1am weeknights, 4am on weekends. There can be a wait, and service can be a little slow – no coffee hits the table as soon as you sit down. Patrons come here to eat, a lot. This is a diner where the Giants or Jets offensive line would not be out of place, chowing down after practice.