Lexington Diner

Visited Saturday, September 7, 2019
Location: 351 Lexington Avenue, Clifton, NJ
Hours: Mon.–Fri., 6 a.m.–midnight; Sat.–Sun., open 24 hours

Our lovely Clifton is home to no fewer than four diners—Maple Valley, Allwood, Tick Tock, and now Lexington—and this is our last to visit. None of them have been standouts so far, but can Lexington buck that trend?



Main Dish

Bacon Cheeseburger Deluxe

Despite the name of this blog, I’m not a burger guy—never have been, likely never will be. I greatly enjoy Five Guys, recently tasted and enjoyed my first Shake Shack offering, and once a fortnight I’ll indulge in a Big Mac. (What’s a fortnight? That’s like two years, right?)

Nothing on this menu was calling my name, so I had little choice but to settle for a burger. At least, I thought I was settling. What arrived was much better than I expected. This is a bog-standard bacon cheeseburger with lettuce (hold the tomato), but boy was it tasty. The toasted bun was an unnecessary, unexpected, but entirely welcome touch. The cheese—American—is really the only proper burger cheese. (Don’t start with me, Dan.) The bacon was crisp but not excessively crunchy. The beef was what really carried it for me: in my limited experiences with diner burgers, I feel too often like it’s just a big hunk of grease. But this one, cooked medium, was nicely meaty. That’s what I want out of my burgers. Meatiness.

This is not the dawning of a new age for me, and I won’t make a habit of ordering burgers. But I’ll tell you what, this one really hit the spot.

Main Dish

M.O.M. Burger

Fortnight is three times a week, if we’re defining it by how often Bud indulges in a Big Mac. Heh.

MY DISH. I was sold immediately on the M.O.M. Burger. Not only because I have mother issues, but also because it’s got my favorite concoction of toppings: mozzarella (the best burger cheese, don’t start with me, Bud), onions, and mushrooms. I gotta say, it was delicious! The burger patty itself was so refreshingly char-broiled tasting. Lately, I feel like a lot of burgers have been going the way of lean and kinda dry…tasteless.

The M.O.M. Burger broke this unfortunate trend of bland burgers and gave me a meaty, greasy, 100-percent American patty. The meat was delicious. The cheese was good, but I’ve definitely had better. The onions were pleasantly sweet, which you think would be the norm when you get “sweet onions” on a burger, but surprisingly isn’t. The mushrooms were the cherry on top. I have absolutely zero complaints about this burger. It was excellent. The only thing that could have really knocked it out of the park is if they used higher-quality mozzarella, but most diners just go with the generic stuff.


You can tell from the picture that these are those coarse, crunchy fries you see once in a while. You know what I’m talking about? Yeah, those. Crunchiness always buys an extra point or two from me.


Nope. Didn’t like these fries. When I see these kinda fries, I get the feeling that they were cooked in the morning, set aside, and then thrown back into the fryer right before they hit our plate. They’re SO fried that they’re functionally just air puffs enveloped in potato.

I will say this much, if you are the sort of tasteless individual (Buddy) that enjoys these kinda fries, well are you in for a treat. This was honestly the largest mountain of fries I’ve ever been served. The plate was honestly 50 percent burger 50 percent fries. Bud loved it…mine all went to waste.


Strawberry Cheesecake

If the burger and fries were a charming surprise, the dessert was the real bummer of the evening. The options were thin from the start—just plain and strawberry cheesecakes, with no other appealing candidates—but even then it was a tough choice. The strawberries, as you can see, are a flattened layer on top of the cake, which isn’t the most appetizing presentation, in my opinion. I mean, it’s obviously deliberate, so I guess it’s a thing, but it just doesn’t do it for me.

The results from the tasting were no more favorable. It just wasn’t creamy enough, wasn’t quite sweet enough. The strawberry layer was gooey and formless. The very center was still frozen—which, oddly enough, I really didn’t hate. It gave it a kind of froyo iciness. But still not a great experience overall. (I know Dan was peeved that it didn’t even come with whipped cream, which is a definite issue, but our fault for not requesting it.)


Strawberry Cheesecake

Me: “Hi, yes, can I please get strawberry cheesecake, but can you make it ice cream?”
Lexington: “I gotchu.”

Come to think of it, I WISH I got ice cream strawberry cheesecake. It would have been better than the Lunchable-style cheesecake slice I got. The flat strawberries were flavorless and literally entombed in the kinda compote/gelatin topping that graced the surface of the flavorless cheesecake. Don’t get me wrong, I’m used to and quite enjoy that fruity gelatin layer on top of my strawberry cheesecake, but the way this was layered, along with the flat-pressed strawberry slices inside…it felt like there was Jello on top of the cake.

The cheesecake was not only NOT creamy, but was practically entirely ice crystals. This leads me to two conclusions, both of which are equally concerning: (1) management is so incompetent that they don’t know how to keep cheesecake at a “cool but not frozen temperature,” or (2) this cheesecake is straight outta the box and hasn’t fully thawed yet. For reference, this was about 6pm. Either way, I am disturbed.



Our waitress was on top of things, she saw when the drinks were running low, she was cool with Dan’s inevitable eleventh-hour request for honey mustard. No problems with her at all. But the food came out very slowly despite that it wasn’t exactly a full house, at least when we first got there.


This is a tough one because our waitress was great, but the service was substandard. I have no complaints at all about our waitress. She was lovely and very attentive. My problem lies with Lexington Diner. ALL of Lexington Diner employed exactly one (1) waitress. I find this to be bad practice. How much money are you saving, Lexington, by staffing ONE waitress during the dinner rush? Regardless of how much, is it worth (1) stretching an employee that thin and/or (2) serving annoyed diners who have now waited 20 minutes for a burger?

YEAH. Twenty minutes. For some burgers and French toast. Maybe more, even. This is made all the more ludicrous considering maybe one out of every three tables was occupied. Like I said, I had no problem with our waitress at all, she was great. When a diner has only one server working at a time, though, it seems cheap and to me…like they’re more concerned about the short-term bottom line than long-term customer satisfaction.


There’s no way to avoid a perfect score here. This place is priced like a roadside greasy spoon in the middle of Appalachia. My cheeseburger deluxe—a burger with cheese, with bacon, with lettuce, with fries, with a pickle, with cole slaw—was $7.95. A soft drink for under $2 (with only one free refill, but at least it was a full-size glass and not the dinky little thing these places often serve). Four dollars for the (not very good) cheesecake. I don’t think we’ve seen anything close to this so far.


Hands-down, without question, Lexington Diner gives you THE most bang for your buck that I’ve ever seen. The $8.00 burger I got would be flirting with $13.00 at any other diner I’ve been to. I saw a tuna melt on the menu for literally HALF the price of what Tick Tock Diner charges. It was unreal. I felt like I was in that Stephen King book 11/22/63, where diner owner Al Templeton literally goes through a time portal to buy cheap beef to keep his burger prices so low. Yup, that actually happens.


Unfortunately, all the cash you’re saving at this place is cash they haven’t put toward renovations and updates. Lexington has the décor and personality of a prison cafeteria. Linoleum floors, beat-up tables. Now, I’ll be reasonable: this is a place with no pretense, no shiny new chandeliers and paneling designed just to distract from a substandard product. I didn’t get the sense that this place was dirty (it’s not) or poorly maintained (it probably isn’t), just that ambience isn’t exactly a priority.


The dining area of this establishment was disturbingly reminiscent of a middle school cafeteria. The tables and chairs looked cheap. The colors were bland. There was a boy next to me bullying me and yanking on my ponytail. Aside from that, Bud behaved himself pretty well, though.

Lexington Diner seems to me more like the kinda place that I’d prefer to order food from and bring home. BUT THEY CHARGE EXTRA FOR THAT. Can you believe that? I don’t think I’ve ever seen—no, I’ve definitely never seen fee-to-takeout food. “Hey, we’re doing less work for you for the same price, but I’m going to tack on an extra tax. For your convenience.” OK, TICKETMASTER.

But yeah, the inside is in desperate need of a facelift. Some music and wall decoration wouldn’t hurt either. I can’t say it was dirty, but I can definitely say it wasn’t pretty.


Lexington is probably the most bipolar review I’ve yet written. I really, truly enjoyed the burger. I didn’t care for the cheesecake. The prices are spectacular. The ambience is unspectacular. It all averages out to just a middle-of-the-road rating. I don’t know that I’d recommend making Lexington Diner a frequent stop unless prices are really a priority, but it at least merits an honorable mention.


Despite the poor reviews I’ve given this diner for certain aspects, I have to say, on the whole, I very much enjoyed my Lexington Diner experience. Saying this establishment was a “no frills” diner would be an insult to frills everywhere. Where it mattered, though, Lexington delivered. You want a burger and enough fries to make you explode but you have less than ten dollars? This is the place to go.

I don’t think I foresee myself coming here again anytime soon, mostly because of the disproportionate value I place on my dessert experience, though. “Bipolar” is a good way to describe my feelings about this diner. Good word, Bud. The quality of the food was excellent, ESPECIALLY considering the incredible prices. Everything else about this diner was very blah. Borderline depressing. Kinda like any interaction I have with my sister.


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One Reply to “Lexington Diner”

  1. 1) Bud, a fortnight is 2 WEEKS, not YEARS
    2) Dan, I loved your reference to 11/22/63, but I bet Bud has never read it.
    3) Sorry, but don’t ever bring me here if they can’t present a passable cheesecake.

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