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Home > Restaurants > Empire Diner

Empire Diner

Critic's Pick Critics' Pick

210 Tenth Ave., New York, NY 10011 40.747127 -74.004436
at 22nd St.  See Map | Subway Directions Hopstop Popup
212-596-7523 Send to Phone

  • Cuisine: American Nouveau, American Traditional
  • Price Range: $$

    Key to Prices and ratings

    Upscale
    • Almost Perfect
    • Exceptional
    • Generally Excellent
    • Very Good
    • Good
    Cheap Eats
    • Best in Category
    • Excellent
    • Delicious
    • Very Good
    • Noteworthy
    • Very Expensive
    • Expensive
    • Moderate
    • Cheap
  • Reader Rating: Write a Review
Photo by Melissa Hom

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Hours

Daily, 5 p.m.-10:30 p.m.

Nearby Subway Stops

1 at 23rd St.; C, E at 23rd St.

Prices

$16-$21

Payment Methods

American Express, MasterCard, Visa

Special Features

  • Dine at the Bar
  • Good for Groups
  • Hot Spot
  • Notable Chef

Alcohol

  • Full Bar

Reservations

Not Accepted

Profile

Like Jonathan Wu, and almost every other cook in town, the seasoned executive chef and reality-show presence Amanda Freitag (’Cesca, the Harrison, Gusto, Iron Chef, Chopped) is dabbling in the dark realm of comfort foods. At her newly rebooted ­version of Chelsea’s famous Empire Diner on Tenth Avenue, you can belly up to the counter for a very un-diner-like mound of crab salad scooped in a bowl of avocado, and crocks of onion soup capped with melted Gruyère and fat, slightly soggy croutons cut from a substance called “bagel bread ­pudding.” The soupy, properly biting house mac ’n’ cheese is constructed with Italian orzo, instead of elbow macaroni, and touched, a little unsettlingly, with truffle butter. The buffalo wings are spicy and tangy enough, but instead of chicken ­Freitag uses skate wing, cut in meager slices (I counted four) and graced with a spoonful of crème fraîche.

Would I have preferred the usual mess of Tabasco-doused chicken wings, ­supplemented with glops of blue-cheese dressing? Probably. Upon reflection, I also would have preferred less pork belly in my bacon-addled oyster pan roast, along with a traditionalist shmear of cream cheese with my lox, instead of a soggy wad of ­burrata. But we quibble. If nothing else, Freitag deserves credit for breathing new life into this ancient, iconic dining space. Her signature burger (with a “special sauce” on brioche) and patty melt (on crunchy rye with melted Swiss) work just fine, as does the trout amandine, which is set over a pat of parsnip purée in a pool of brown butter. The silvery Art Deco room is mobbed most nights, so get there early, and if you feel like a drink with your burger, call for the ample cocktail menu, which includes a seductive New Age martini, garnished, for an extra artisanal kick, with a pickled baby carrot.

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