Orange Top Inn Diner

Visited Saturday, August 25, 2018
Location: 192 NY Route 17, Tuxedo Park, NY
Hours: 6 a.m.–8 p.m.

Hear ye, hear ye! Prithee come forth and hear tell of the treacherous frontier of Upstate New York! An untamed wilderness of contemptable diners, unworthy of even the title!

Ahem. We spent Saturday at the Renaissance Faire and made a pit stop on return drive to test an Orange County, New York diner. It’s our first out-of-state review—but will it be our last?! (Nah probably not.)



Main Dish

Reuben Sandwich

Orange Top’s menu is smaller than the behemoths we’ve become used to in New Jersey, but it was a welcome relief. Don’t get me wrong, a twenty-page glossy diner menu is a charming beast and an integral part of the experience, but analysis paralysis is a thing. Just ask Dan, who will peruse a menu for ten minutes with such focus that you’d think she’s trying to decide which of her dogs she will surrender for adoption (spoiler: it’s Callie). Then, of course, she just orders a burger or a tuna melt anyway. (I checked: in our last ten visits, including Orange Top, she ate one of those eight times.)

The smallish menu steered me to one of their “special sandwiches.” The label evokes some kind of signature recipe, but it was instead a very standard lineup: Rueben, tuna melt, chicken fingers (ummm that’s not a sandwich what the heck), happy waitress (a ubiquitous diner offering—grilled cheese, in this case embellished with bacon and tomato), and a few wrap options.

I went with the Reuben, which prompted the dreaded question of corned beef versus pastrami. This time I was ready for it, and I coolly answered, “Umm I don’t know, I guess corned beef? Which one is better? Oh boy.” Nailed it. The waiter educated me that corned beef is the more traditional option, so I went with that. He also asked my preference of mustard or Thousand Island dressing, and though I can definitely enjoy a nice spicy mustard, the occasion called for Thousand Island.

I didn’t expect the Reuben to be served open-faced, but I found it a pleasant surprise. Likewise with the dressing served on the side, so that I could apply it delicately and selectively. (I dumped the entire thing on top and was tempted to ask for more.) Maybe the nicest part of a Reuben is the texture and flavor contrast of the sauerkraut, without which the Reuben is a pretty unexciting sandwich. The sauerkraut is stringy, sour, and almost crunchy—and here there was a lot of it, packed in a layer beneath the corned beef and the melted Swiss. This was a really tasty sandwich.

Main Dish


Um I’d never surrender any of my dogs if my life depended on it. But, hypothetically, it’d definitely be Callie.

I feel very attacked by Buddy’s post and his accusations about my practices of slow reading and unadventurous choices in food. I almost always read through the menu at work in excruciating detail so that I don’t need to make Mr. Cranky-When-I’m-Hungry wait for me to choose.

Anyway, this menu was more pathetic than my attempts to put makeup on to look pretty. There wasn’t even a burger column! Burgers were listed under “HOT SANDWICHES”—it was madness. Buddy spoiled it, but I did end up getting a burger. Anxious that the burger would be as plain as the diner’s decor, I asked them to throw on some fried onions. It ultimately didn’t do much, unfortunately. My end product was the most average of burgers. It left me with nothing more than the feeling of “well, now I’m not hungry anymore, I guess”. No zazz. Nothing I’d write home about. It had all of the charm of a burger you’d get at a family barbecue that you really didn’t want to go to in the first place because your cousin makes you uncomfortable (if you’re reading this, you know who you are).

Weird side note: on their menu they offered a “stuffed tomato” that was filled with tuna salad and hard boiled eggs. Is that a thing? What on earth inspired someone to combine these ingredients together in this unholy concoction? I pray we never find out.


Orange Top’s fries get a bump for their excellent crunchiness, though the score is tempered because they were certainly unsalted when they arrived at the table. Everyone’s salt tolerance varies, but surely nobody wants zero salt on their fries, right?


Worst fries yet. I didn’t see fries mentioned once on the menu so I asked our waiter what types of fries they served to which he answered, and I quote: “fries.” So I narrowed it down, and got the fries. They were so crunchy that some of them were just deep-fried hollow potato shells. They tasted like those French fry chips you get at a vending machine. Not only were they way too crunchy, they were flavorless. The honey mustard was one of those name-brand packaged ones, which I usually don’t mind, so whatever. I ended up only eating a few because I was starving, but I couldn’t subject myself to any more.


Apple Pie a la Mode

There was not a dessert case positioned prominently near the entrance, and I was in no mood to go hunting for one, so Dan and I took the rare risk of ordering from the dessert menu alone, sight unseen. Cheesecake wasn’t even an option, and after being scolded repeatedly when we ask for hot fudge on our brownie sundae, we kept it safe with apple pie a la mode. I found the slice a little undersized, but the whipped cream and ice cream were in nice proportion. The pie was fine—granting, to be fair, that I am not a huge fan of pie in the first place. It always ends up that I much prefer the crust to the filling. In this case it was just as well, because Dan was feeling the opposite. As someone ambivalent about pie, I can say this one was adequate? I dunno. I’m not a fair judge.


Apple Pie a la Mode

This pie, like the burger, like the fries, was just average. No. Below average. It wasn’t even pretty. The ice cream was floating off to the side like some orbiting planet. The whipped cream looked like someone threw it on from five feet away. The overall combination made for what I think was my least favorite dessert of our diner experience.


Orange Top is a small place, and when we arrived, the two or three other parties seemed like regulars. The waiter/host (the place is just one big room and he could easily pull double duty) seemed almost surprised or unprepared for us, like foreigners weren’t common in their small-town joint. Or maybe it was my imagination. In any case, they quickly pushed together a couple tables for us. It would be nearly impossible to have given us bad service because the waiter could have taken our orders from virtually any spot in the room, considering how small it was. There would be no way to dodge us or to ignore our empty glasses. But he was particularly attentive and particularly interested in our table—and this is despite that he spent much of his downtime sitting and chatting with another party, who must’ve been his friends or at least regular patrons.


It definitely wasn’t your imagination, Bud, I thought the same thing. This little small-town diner wasn’t ready for the big time New Jersey folk with their fancy Tops and Tick Tock experiences.

I’m not even positive this guy was a waiter any more than he was just a guy that had a passion for pouring drinks and bringing out plates. This guy was so casual that while we waited for our plates to be cleared, I looked around for him and he had pulled up a chair to the table of the older couple next to us and was just chatting it up with them. I actually found it sweet. And the guy was such a dude. I liked him. He did the best with the little he could offer with this diner.


Ten bucks for a sandwich piled with meat and cheese, with fries on the side, is a fair deal. I can’t glean the price of the pie from our receipt, which was handwritten rather haphazardly (which is somehow charming in its own right). The most revealing number, though, is that we were a party of eight and the check totaled $100. That’s $12.50 a person, including drinks and a few desserts. Not a steal but a fine deal.

What’s not a fine deal is the one-free-refill maximum. Boo.


Like Buddy, I too could not comprehend the receipt breakdown. But I think my burger with fried onions was about $9.00 which is honestly right in line with what it should have been, which surprises me because the diner itself, let alone the burger, was of lower quality than most diners we go to with the same-priced burgers. In my head, I call this the Burger Deluxe Index. The price of your burger should correlate with the quality of the diner, and for Orange Top, it most certainly did not.


Reviewing the ambience at Orange Top is really challenging me. (I want to say that’s the reason the review is a little late this week, but the reality is we were playing with Dan’s puppy and I took a nap. I promise I will always be honest with you readers.) Let me explain. The place looks like a bingo hall. It looks like a hospital cafeteria. It looks like a VFW. The floors are linoleum tile, the walls are largely ‘70s-era wood paneling. We avoid photographing the interiors of the diners, but Yelp has some good examples. It felt rundown.

But here’s the conflict: is that necessarily a negative mark for a diner? If I go to a fine steakhouse, I am paying for moody lighting and white tablecloths. But Orange Top is one of the most unpretentious places I’ve ever eaten, and maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be. It helps to understand that Orange Top is the “rural-ish small-town local eatery” kind of diner, not the “North Jersey suburbs with neon and stainless steel” kind. There was a corkboard with ads for a local gunsmith, and an inexplicable chicken roosting on a pole out front.

I left thinking that either a .5- or a 5-burger rating would be appropriate for the ambience, so I’m just calling it a 2.5.


Bud nailed it with his description. I am famously less forgiving for these kinda things though. Would it have killed them to slap on a fresh coat of paint on the walls that isn’t stark white? Could they have hung up some fun food-themed prints on the walls? Could the tables be less reminiscent of those in my high school cafeteria? Yes to all of the above. These are simple changes that can really make an establishment feel warm and inviting. The inside of my office cubicle is cozier and more diner-like than Orange Top.


For the absolute barebones diner experience, Orange Top is a fine candidate. I can’t find any real complaints about the food or service, but the overall experience is utilitarian. You’re paying (a reasonable price) for the food and service, with no frills whatsoever.


Look. We came here after a long day of partying it up at the Renaissance Faire. We were all hungry, so this place might as well have been something crazy like a Peter Lugers or a Houlihan’s to us. I found the food boring and unimpressive, but it wasn’t quite bad. It was perfectly palatable and was almost fun to have a unique experience of a non-New Jersey, small-town diner…That being said, I’m looking forward to getting back to hitting one of New Jersey’s diners this week./p>


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3 Replies to “Orange Top Inn Diner”

  1. Wait- I’m confused. Dan gave better score for overall than Bud? From the commentary leading up, I expected maybe a quarter of a 🍔. Do you even give quarters?

    1. Yeah I agree, her rating is better than the review indicates. But no we don’t give quarter-burger ratings, what an absurd notion.

  2. What a tasty review.

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