Chit Chat Diner

Visited Friday, July 6, 2018
Location: 55 Essex Street, Hackensack, NJ
Hours: Open 24 hours

Last week was our long-anticipated visit to Tick Tock Diner, and this time we bring you our thoughts on Chit Chat Diner. Visit us in coming weeks for reviews on Mish Mash Diner, Riff Raff Grill, and Ping Pong Pancake House.

Jokes aside (because this is a very serious blog), we’ve looked forward to visiting Chit Chat because friends have universally had good things to say about it. But none of that matters until Burger Deluxe has weighed in.



Main Dish

Asian Short Rib Beef Sandwich

The short rib sandwich is emblematic of Chit Chat’s menu overall: not overtly fancy, per se, but a little more dressed up than a standard diner menu. If a standard diner menu is a t-shirt and jeans, Chit Chat is a t-shirt, jeans, and a bowtie. No, that’s an awful analogy. But you see what I’m saying. Cases in point: their array of sandwiches features such reliable favorites as a club, a cheesesteak, and a tuna melt, but also Tex-Mex meatloaf, Sicilian steak, and banh mi—which, I learned from the late Anthony Bourdain (RIP), is a Vietnamese pork sandwich developed by French colonists. Come for a diner review, stay for a history lesson.

My short rib sandwich—braised in teriyaki sauce, with fried onions and melted provolone—was really terrific. The meat was “slowly braised,” and it flaked apart in the same way as a roast out of the slow-cooker. I think I could’ve enjoyed it just fine with a fork and no other ingredients, but the provolone cheese was a fine, unobtrusive pairing, and the toasted ciabatta added an excellent crunch and soaked up the juice.

P.S.: They started us off with complimentary warm bread, with olive oil for dipping. Five burgs.

Main Dish

Roasted Garlic and Smoked Mozzarella Burger

Bud, that analogy was awful. You’re fired. Other Buds out there, please send in your resumes to eat with me.

While Bud got himself the “bowtie” meal, I stayed true to my roots and got a burger. This was a slammin’ burger. I was a little reluctant at first on my choice because despite being 100% Italian, I actually don’t like garlic or smoked mozzarella. This has caused many arguments and a disowning from no less than two grandmothers. (That’s a lie, one grandmother disowned me for a completely different reason.)

ANYWAY, I kept the garlic, but subbed the smoked mozz for fresh, and man what a killer burger it ended up being. The garlic ended up just being a slight hint. Just enough so you don’t forget it’s there. The mozz melted perfectly and was delicious, and the fried onions, as usual, were incredible. I didn’t even need to add ketchup or anything, it was perfect as it was.


This is the good stuff. Rarely do I see these shoestring fries at a diner, and I was pleasantly surprised at Chit Chat.


So here’s the thing—GOOD fries, but they had been built up by friends so strongly that I thought I was gonna have my socks knocked off. Though I wore flip flops in preparation for sock-knocking, the fries were nothing crazy. Pretty run-of-the-mill waffle fries. These guys had a more airy-crispiness that I don’t really care for in my waffle fries. Chit Chat serves their fries in a little porcelain bowl on the plate next to your entree, so I’m not sure if we got less fries than usual or if it just looked like it.

Honey mustard was quite nice.


Big Fat Chocolate Cake
Strawberry Cheesecake

Never have I seen a dessert case so crammed with pristine pastries. If nothing else, Chit Chat gets big points for presentation. Everything looked so good that Dan and I deliberated far longer than usual before deciding. We even asked the hostess standing nearby, and she was super helpful:

Bud: “We can’t decide what to get. Do you know what all these are?”

Hostess: “Yeah, I know what they are.”

Bud: “Cool. This one looks good—what is it?”

Hostess: “I don’t know.”

Bud: “Oh. Ok. Well, what’s this one?”

Hostess: “Not sure.”

Bud: “Alrighty.”

She did finally recommend the big fat chocolate cake, and it was a fine choice. Chocolate cake isn’t my favorite—I find it to be one-note, just aggressively chocolate and not much else to it—but this was perfectly acceptable. The thick fudge frosting was a needed textural contrast. The best part was the brownie chunks arrayed on top, which is a fun idea and really tasty.

We also tried a taste of ol’ reliable, the strawberry cheesecake. I’ll tell you, when you’ve had enough of them, they all just start blending together (like the years of mine and Dan’s relationship). While I can’t attest that Chit Chat’s strawberry cheesecake does anything special, it is at least competent. Creamy cake, appropriately portioned compote (that’s what you call the topping, right?). It was even placed atop a drizzled bed of what I think was white chocolate, which is a nice touch.


Big Fat Chocolate Cake
Strawberry Cheesecake

Buddy nailed it: “aggressively chocolate” is a perfect way to describe this cake. I want to complain that there was no whipped cream but I feel like I’m getting a little repetitive here. I do believe some whipped cream could really have been a nice touch amidst all the chocolate. There were about five different types and textures of chocolate in this cake, and I think it actually may have been too much for us to handle. It was the first dessert we didn’t finish!

As far as the strawberry cheesecake goes, I took one bite and was like, nope, not as good as Tick Tock. It wasn’t bad, but there’s definitely a better strawberry cheesecake out there.


Chit Chat seems to employ a small army of wait staff. I’m not sure who exactly the host was, because there were at least three or four folks standing near the entrance. We did have just one dedicated waitress, but I swear at least three differently people refilled our water. As we got up and left, a squad of busboy commandoes parachuted onto our table to clear our dishes. (I made that last part up, but that’s how it felt.)

Of the ten dozen employees we interacted with, all were friendly and helpful. Even the aforementioned hostess, who bluffed about her knowledge of the dessert offerings, was nice enough. The food came out fast, despite that the place was starting to get crowded.


Service was fine. I feel like I use the word “efficient” too much when ranking service, but it seems to describe my feelings in the most succinct way. Our waitress was prompt and friendly and she brought us all our food without error. Aside from the very transactional relationship we had, there was very little, if any, talk between her and us.

On the other hand, we did have a very pleasant exchange with the hostess, who helped inform our dessert decision (see Bud’s dialogue recreation in his “dessert” section). She was lovely and fun.


Like Tick Tock Diner last week, this may be where Chit Chat falters. Often, when a friend or acquaintance has recommended Chit Chat, he has followed quickly with a caveat: “It’s a little pricey.”

My sandwich was $14.95, undoubtedly expensive for a diner sandwich. But “good value” is not synonymous with “cheap.” It’s perfectly acceptable that a short rib sandwich costs more than a plain old burger—and, in fact, one of our dining companions (hi mom) ordered a cheeseburger deluxe at $9.95. Nothing wrong with that. The other side of the coin, though, is that another companion (hi dad) ordered a chicken teriyaki platter (chicken, veggies, rice) at $18.95. That felt a little rich to me. The cheesecake was under $6 and the chocolate cake $6.25, which are about average.

Chit Chat did strike a nerve for me by offering free refills for only coffee. Fountain drinks are notoriously inexpensive to produce, and I think there’s never an excuse to deny free refills. Alas, I spent most of the night drinking water like a peasant.


A little caveat here, Bud mentioned that he “heard this place was a little pricey” about nine times between the parking lot and being seated, so I went in already feeling ripped off. Though I didn’t find their prices exorbitant (looking at you, Tick Tock), I do have to agree with Buddy that the prices were a bit steep. Also, there’s no excuse to not offer free refills for fountain drinks. It’s an insult.


If Saddle Brook Diner is a throwback to classic diners of a past era, Chit Chat is a bold step into diner future, exemplified by this weird statute outside. Far too avant-garde for a diner. Gimme the tacky red vinyl booths—that’s my comfort zone.

I didn’t sense a strong diner vibe, which is a strike against Chit Chat solely because of the subject of this blog. In other respects, it is a bright, welcoming, comfortable place. The interior designer did have a bit of a thing for black-and-white checkerboard. They chose a theme and they committed to it.


Chit Chat is absolutely darling. Very unique. There was a nice blend of the classic diner looks with a fun unique twist that made it stand out from the typical diner.

Of course, I can’t forget to comment on the part of the diner that inspired its name: the conversation cards. Though Bud and I didn’t use them to prompt conversation (I just wanted to talk about my puppy), I feel like it’s such a fun idea. Great feature to have if you’re, let’s say, on a first date. I found too many sport-themed cards for my taste but in general, I love the idea.


Chit Chat Diner offers both the diner standards and a variety of more ambitious dishes. While the prices compare unfavorably to some of the other diners we’ve visited, the quality and variety of food and solid service make it a good value.


I have a lot of clients and friends that highly recommended this diner, and I gotta say, I was a little skeptical that it would live up to all the hype. Well, readers, it certainly did. Chit Chat is a super cute, very fun diner. The décor is adorable and the food is excellent. Like I mentioned earlier, this would be a great place to take someone on a very casual first date, but if you ain’t got no honey, it’s a fine place to go with family or friends as well.


Tags: ,

7 Replies to “Chit Chat Diner”

  1. Hi Bud. My burger was fine, Thank you. Cooked to perfection. And their slaw was wonderful!
    Hi Dan, too bad we couldn’t bring Douglas, but I know he was resting up for his big party.
    And the cheesecake at his party was much better, although this was acceptable. Not great, but acceptable. No whipped cream.

    1. I don’t know why cole slaw is the standard side dish, but I don’t like it. We need to find a place that does, say, macaroni salad.

      1. No place does macaroni salad, don’t be crazy.

  2. The conversation cards at Chit Chat sound like a really adorable touch… but I heard that if you’re on a first date, the proper etiquette is to talk about how both of you are lefties and then make awkward movements with your hands… Thoughts on this?

    Also— the Chocolate Lady hasn’t commented on the aggressive chocolate cake yet? She’s so mysterious.

    1. We definitely agree. Cards are appropriate for diner novices, but diner professionals can easily sustain conversation for an entire meal solely by discussing their left-handedness.

  3. At the risk of being predictable, I think we all know what I’m going to say here. How can you possibly be turned off by an aggressively chocolate cake? I love when a cake slaps me silly with chocolate, like a comical exchange between the Three Stooges. Your credibility falters for me a bit here. How can I trust your judgment of chocolate cake when you seemingly want it to just whisper into your ear?

    Regardless, good review and I will be trying the cake myself. Let’s let an expert judge.

    1. A pure chocolate dessert is one-dimensional. Without day there is no night, without grief no joy, without silence no song. We need contrasts in our lives, you see. Even a little dab of whipped cream would’ve been nice.

Leave a Reply