Ridge Diner

Visited Sunday, July 29, 2018
Location: 125 Kinderkamack Road, Park Ridge, NJ
Hours: Sun.–Thu., 6 a.m.–2 a.m.; Fri.–Sat., open 24 hours
Website: ridgediner.com

The Ridge Diner is an ancient landmark of northeast Bergen County, anchoring the northern terminus of Kinderkamack Road mostly unchanged for decades (or at least since Bud frequented the place in high school). The exterior facade may have a clean, updated look, but inside is a classic diner in aesthetic, attitude, and menu.



Main Dish


The Rueben is a staple diner sandwich, always a safe harbor in times of doubt or indecision. The only thing you have to fear when ordering a Reuben is the pivotal choice: pastrami or corned beef? (Or, in this case, turkey? Is that a thing?) I always confidently announce to the waiter that I would like pastrami please, secretly sweating over the fact that I really have no idea what the difference is between the two and at this point I’m afraid to ask. I invite somebody to please educate me in the comments below.

Ridge does it pretty standard: just the meat of your choice, melted Swiss, sauerkraut, on toasted rye. There are places that must insist on adding their own signature perversion of a diner classic, but there’s just no need. The only marginally irregular twist here is that the Russian dressing is in a separate cup—which I never think of or request in advance but always appreciate when it arrives. I shall dress this sandwich at my own pace, thank you, and I shall dress my fries as well.

The sandwich arrived just as expected, and there was nothing overtly wrong with it. I will say that the bread was not an ideal texture: it wasn’t soggy, but it was somehow too moist and floppy, like I could feel my fingers imprinting it. If a sandwich is served on toasted bread, I prefer a nice crunch, especially when all the other ingredients are softer textured.

Main Dish

Grilled Chicken Foccacia

Can you say PRETENTIOUS? Hey The Ridge Diner, I was expecting a nice fat sloppy chicken sandwich and what I got looked more like something you’d get at one of those hipster cafes (like Panera) for $20. Nothing against those kind of eateries, but if I wanted a fancy sandwich, I wouldn’t go looking for it at the diner. You see the pictures, though, right? It looks too fancy!

All the ingredients separately would make for an excellent sandwich, but in this, the execution was flawed. The chicken was “marinated”…with what, I do not know…you could barely taste it. The pepper was sloppily placed on. The mozzarella was one fat lump that was only on the left side of the sandwich. The baby greens and the chipotle mayo were a lovely touch, I must say. The combination of all this, though, made for an unfortunately bland sandwich and a lot of wasted potential.

Overall, I regret not having ordered a burger.


When the fries arrived and Dan quickly announced their sogginess, I knew I was in for a rough ride. Between our two plates, we did manage to dig up enough crispy ones to tide me over, but it wasn’t ideal. They also needed extra salt. I don’t know why that’s such a common problem with diner fries. I guess, in theory, the kitchen wants to give a patron total control over his fries’ salt content, so they arrive at the table minimally salted. If that’s the logic, fine, I get it. But more often it feels like an oversight.


I seemed to have been in the minority of those that joined us as the diner, but I loved these fries. I got the classic, shoestring-type fries instead of curly and I am so pleased with my choice. The fries were nice and thick, not flimsy little spuds. And, my favorite, a lot of them got the chance to get nice and soggy. *Italian pizzeria man kissing his fingers*

The honey mustard was probably the best I’ve had at a diner, making the fry experience all the more exciting.

Caveat: These fries were perfect, for me. I’m going to give them 5 burgers because they exhibited everything I love in a fry; however, I don’t think the average person likes their fries the way I do (soggy, not salty).


Brownie Delight

When I left the table to investigate the dessert case (Dan always makes me go alone and report back), I learned that the five varieties of cheesecake are actually just one variety with superficial variations. They serve a plain cheesecake but, upon request, will top it with cherry, strawberry, blueberry, or pineapple. So, there was no premade strawberry cheesecake, just some strawberry sludge they shovel onto a plain cake.

Or at least that’s what you would think when you saw Dan’s reaction. When I told her the fruit toppings were added after the fact, she couldn’t be less appetized. So instead we repeated our folly from last week and attempted a brownie a la mode.

This one was actually very nice. The brownie was dipped into chocolate to form a semi-hard shell, which is completely unorthodox but perfectly welcome. The interior was far more fudgy and less cake-y than Park West’s (though still not fudgey enough—my ideal brownie is actually just a piece of fudge with a nametag that says “I am a brownie”). The whipped cream and ice cream were in good proportion, and the chocolate syrup (which really should be hot fudge—come on) is a fine touch, though I could have just as easily gone without. The brownie is the star of the chocolate show and the syrup was just along for the ride.


Brownie Delight

I only make my dearest Buddy venture out to the dessert window alone because 1. I’m “a foolish woman who isn’t allowed to decide on something so important,” and 2. I always take my shoes off and don’t feel like putting them back on to look at some cakes.

As Bud said, this brownie sundae was much better than last week’s embarrassment. This brownie was as moist as my forehead was, sweating in anticipation of this whipped cream-riddled delight. Though I was pretty full from my rustic artisan chicken sandwich, I couldn’t stop eating it until I felt sick.


This feels like another occasion where there was nothing wrong with our service, but it was simply forgettable. The waitress did not slap my nephew in the face or call my girlfriend ugly, so she satisfied the baseline of appropriate server conduct. But she also left no impression for better or worse. I mean, she was fine. It was fine.

She didn’t notice (or didn’t care to notice) my empty drink glass, which is a pet peeve of mine, but maybe just as well because I suspected that refills were not free. The menu did not remark one way or the other, but I just have the suspicion.


I appreciate food service is probably one of the most difficult and unrewarding jobs out there. That being said…this lady. Sheesh.


At $9.50 for a Reuben, fries, pickle, and cole slaw, I surely don’t feel ripped off. That’s a standard and appropriate price for a standard and appropriate portion. The brownie sundae came to $5.95, which also is a fine mark (or even a bit light—when I look back at the pictures, that’s pretty sizable brownie chunk). Early in the meal, when we were still just thinking about dessert options, we noticed that a cheesecake slice was less than $5, which is exceptional; although we didn’t order cheesecake, I think it’s a good sign of the Ridge Diner’s good prices.


For a place as plain and uninteresting as my dumb face, you’d think the food would be a bit cheaper. My fancy-schmancy sandwich was over $10! The desserts were fairly priced, I thought, but their burgers and sandwiches were priced such that you’d almost believe you were at a higher quality diner.


This was my main problem with our visit. The diner was remarkably sedate when we came in, despite that there were several parties there. That’s not to say that I expect (or, for that matter, desire) to walk in to pumping bass and strobing lights—but we were seated directly in the middle of four or five groups of older folks, and it felt to me like my voice was ever raised above a whisper, I was imposing upon them. Dan and I ate with two treasured companions (hi Mike, hi Deacon) and I wanted to interact with them without preoccupation about our volume or tone. But instead it felt like we were eating in a library.

I’ve been to the Ridge many, many times in my life, especially because it was one of our primary diners when I was at diner age (i.e., high school), and I never had issue with this. So, I am very open-minded about the possibility that my experience here is a function of the day and time, not of the venue itself. It was early evening on a Sunday, which Dan tells me is prime older-folks’ time. If we arrived two hours earlier or later, the experience would’ve been different. That’s possible. But for now, I can remark on the ambience only as I experienced it at the time.


I like the idea of a diner sporting the super old fashioned, wood-paneling look, but when you actually visit one it seems a lot…cheaper and back-woodsy. Like they decided to say “renovations? no thanks, I’d rather spend the money on the salary of sad waitresses instead.”


The Ridge Diner is a traditional, understated, and competent diner with fair prices and good food, though no features of special note.


Well…I guess we’ve been to worse diners? It was serviceable, I’ll say that much. The interior was kinda ugly, if you didn’t catch my drift in “ambience.” The food was subpar. You know what? It feels like the kinda diner you’d see in one of those classic movies like Twilight, where they’re in the Middle of Nowhere(™) and there’s only one place to eat. Like, “yeah, it’s ugly, but what it lacks in beauty, it makes up for in friendly faces and good food.” It’s just like that except for the friendly faces and good food part.


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7 Replies to “Ridge Diner”


    1. You are a nut. Though also I agree that the grilled cheese looked mighty tasty. Maybe good with bacon.

  2. Why did I not consider bacon on that grilled cheese? The atmosphere felt like a bad episode of the twilight zone, but the bread pudding and milkshake were slam-a-lamin’, totally worth the tummy ache.

  3. Told yah.

    1. Savage.

  4. lol, btw im the nephew…rly bud?

    1. Yes I gave you a shoutout on our very famous blog, you should be thanking me.

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