State Street Grill

Visited Sunday, December 16, 2018
Location: 9 State Street, Bloomfield, NJ
Hours: Mon.–Thu., 6 a.m.–2 a.m.; Fri.–Sat., open 24 hours; Sun., 6 a.m.–1 a.m.

The end of the year approaches rapidly and our 2018 diner opportunities are nearly over, as soon we will be stuffing our faces with leftover lasagna (it’s an Italian Christmas thing…go figure) rather than tuna melts and Buffalo chicken wraps. But we will not go quietly into that diner-less night: this week we visited State Street Grill, an instant all-star and sure contender for Diner of the Year (an award we just made up).



Main Dish

State Street’s Sloppy Joe

As you know, I always take a first pass at the menu to see which items the diner as flagged as their signature dish. State Street tagged several: the State Street Chicken Sandwich (with honey mustard…that’s more Dan’s jam), the State Street Steak Sandwich (on a garlic roll…intriguing but I’ve been burned before). This is what got me: State Street’s Sloppy Joe, with corned beef, pastrami, and turkey on rye with cole slaw and a side of Russian dressing. To me, a sloppy joe is a pile of chopped meat in red sauce—one of our dining companions (hi Spencer) called it a chili sandwich. This was like no sloppy joe I’ve ever heard of,* but it was exactly what I wanted.

State Street, you did not steer me wrong. If this is where you’ll plant your flag as a signature dish, I’m on board. The first, obvious observation is that it was just overstuffed, to the point that when I removed the toothpick holding each half together, it became impossible to eat without spilling shreds of cole slaw and bits of meat. It was also impossible to dip into the side of Russian dressing without leaving behind the same bits and shreds. There were generous portions of meat, and the crunchy cole slaw is a perfect textural contrast. (I’ve made the observation before and it holds true again.) I don’t even like cole slaw but it’s perfect here. And despite the moisture in the cole slaw, the bread never went soggy or felt too thin.

The only ground I can think of to subtract half a burg is that the dressing in a cup on the side was not the ideal delivery method. I appreciate that you’ve given me the discretion to use more or less in each bite, but when there’s so much loose material within the sandwich, you’re inevitably leaving bits behind every time you dip. It also was difficult to maneuver a bitable side of the sandwich into the smallish cup. A generous spread would’ve been more practical.

* I have since learned that apparently this is well known as a New Jersey-style sloppy joe. Preposterous.

Main Dish

Tuna Melt

Like Buddy’s Sloppy Joe, I, too, spill shreds of cole slaw and bits of meat when held.

I came in not knowing what I wanted, but knowing I was next-level HUNGRY. Next-level hungry for me demands nothing less than an enormous tuna melt. You may know by now that tuna melts are one of my favorite diner dishes. Coming into this diner with such high expectations, I was curious to see how they’d make an already amazing dish even more incredible.

Well, it was pretty much your average tuna melt. Not that this is a bad thing, don’t get me wrong…I was just expecting something over the top…maybe a unique twist to the classic. As usual, I subbed out the American cheese for Swiss cheese because I have an aversion to yellow cheeses that neither me nor my therapist can get to the root of.

But yeah. It wasn’t mind blowing. It wasn’t life changing. It was a solid tuna melt, just like many I’ve had before. I kinda regret not being more adventurous with my dinner choice. Seeing Buddy’s eyes roll backward in ecstasy while eating his Sloppy Joe made me kinda jealous while reluctantly eating my average tuna melt.


There was nothing wrong with these fries except they were a little too potato-y. I don’t really know what that means, but you’ll know it when you see (taste) it. They had a good crunch though.


I do know what you mean, Bud, but I had one of your fries and I respectfully disagree. The only thing at our table that was too potato-y was you, sir.

As expected, these fries were excellent. I couldn’t find a bad thing to say about them if I tried. The consistency was perfect. The seasoning was perfect. Even the serving amount was perfect (just a bit too many for me to finish). In a nice change of pace, State Street also had in-restaurant honey mustard that didn’t come prepackaged (and it was delicious). Lately, that’s been the case with every diner we’ve been to, and the prepackaged stuff is kinda yucky.


Strawberry Cheesecake
Caramel Apple Cheesecake

Dan and I visited State Street once before, just before this illustrious blog was born, and the strawberry cheesecake changed our lives. We pledged that when we made our way back here, we’d give it a proper review.

Considering how fixated we were on the strawberry cheesecake, imagine what an impression the other options must have made that we were convinced to order a second dessert. The strawberry was a given, but Dan indulged me to choose the caramel apple too. The former was just as great as we remembered: remarkably creamy, the right sweet-sour balance, generous whipped cream, and a lovely crust. But I actually preferred the caramel apple. It was so inventive, with a caramel sauce and wafer-thin apple slices protruding from the top and baked as a layer within. The bottom crust was some kind of firm, gritty pastry that we thought might be gingerbread but, in any case, was delicious. All of it with the perfect cheesecake creaminess and appropriate serving of whipped cream. I don’t award many five-burger ratings but I can’t think of anything they could’ve done better.


Strawberry Cheesecake
Caramel Apple Cheesecake

Dessert so nice we’ll eat it twice.

If you want the absolute PERFECT strawberry cheesecake, then please go no further than State Street. I swear to you, it was so creamy that I didn’t even have to chew. I mean, I did anyway because I’m not an animal, but I didn’t HAVE to. The serving of fresh strawberries and that strawberry compote on top was just the right amount. The crust was perfect, the whipped cream was perfect. This cake was so good that it made me forget, even if only for a moment, how much I pray for death every waking moment of my life.

The apple caramel cheesecake, though. What a real breakthrough performance this guy had. I’m a creature of habit when it comes to food, whereas Bud is more adventurous (see the monstrosity he ordered for his main dish). I’m glad for Bud’s adventurous nature in this case because sampling the apple caramel cheesecake was just the cherry on top of the perfect strawberry cheesecake night that it was. This cake was so different but so delicious. It was very clearly apple-y but not over the top, just enough to make you go “MMM!” I can’t give any more superlatives on this cake than Bud already did so I’ll just say we VERY rarely order two desserts to share, but I’m so glad we did this time. The sugar coma that soon followed was well worth the experience.


We’ve had bad luck lately with humdrum servers, but our waitress here was peppy and eager to please. She also got everything right and was attentive but not clingy. Fine work all around.


FINALLY a waitress that dared to hazard a smile! What a nice change of pace. She was absolutely lovely and had a tattoo with my name on it (obviously a big fan of the blog). We didn’t get her name unfortunately, but she was exactly what I look for in a five-burger waitperson. Friendly but not TOO talkative, attentive but not overbearing. Just the kind of quality service I’d expect from such a quality diner.


I was actually very surprised to see the check: just $11.50 for the overstuffed sandwich and fries, $5 for the strawberry cheesecake, and $5.50 for the caramel apple (it was “specialty”). That’s a great deal. Deduction, though, for offering only one free drink refill. You’d think these diners would change their ways after I’ve complained about it repeatedly on my blog. Maybe I’ll write to my congressman.


The prices at State Street were about exactly what they should be. A less scrupulous diner (Tick Tock) would have charged a premium for a “specialty dessert,” and I know for a fact that their tuna melt is at LEAST two dollars more there than it was here. I know two dollars doesn’t seem like something to whine about, but I work in finance and also I’m cheap, so i will continue to whine.

My one…complaint, though, would be that the substitution of waffle fries added an extra $1.70. That’s definitely in the top three of the most expensive waffle fry substitution costs on the list. My secret list that I don’t publish on this blog.


Of all the diners we’ve visited, I’d have the toughest time putting State Street into a category. It’s not new-sleek diner or old-cozy diner—and, in fact, I’d argue that the ambience is not diner-y at all. It strikes me as a more earnest and authentic TGI Fridays. I can’t really explain it better than that, but use your imagination.

We were treated to comprehensive Christmas décor, from lights and wreaths to a full-size decorated tree. The ambient music, which I recall from our last visit was ‘90s and early 2000s pop-rock (very TGI Fridays), this time was modern upbeat Christmas tunes.

I loved everything about this place as a restaurant but make a slight deduction only because I can’t confirm that it’s a true diner. The ambience is borderline at best, plus they call themselves a Grill first, plus you pay your server at the table rather than the cashier up front. When I posed the question to the table, I was outvoted, but I’m still on the fence about it.


OMG TGI FRIDAYS—you’re absolutely right! It’s like TGI Fridays and Pizza Uno had a baby diner. That’s the best way to envision this place. But I say this all in a good way! It’s kinda modern, kinda funky. Still warm and cozy with the lighting. It was especially nice this time around because there were the classiest Christmas decorations everywhere you looked. It was festive, it was cozy, it was inviting, it was everything you don’t experience during an Italian Christmas gathering.

Get off the fence, Bud, State Street Grill IS a diner, and it has probably my favorite ambiance of any other diner we’ve been to.


We’ve had the pleasure to visit State Street twice (though only this later occasion was a proper Burger Deluxe Visit), so I can confirm that all the great things we enjoyed the first time around were not an anomaly. The food is just terrific, the prices surprising, the service friendly, the environment beautiful. If they offered unlimited drink refills and if I were more confident State Street Grill Diner is actually a diner, I can’t see how I would withhold a perfect score.


I’d have to think long and hard to find anything bad to say about this place. It probably is one of the highest-ranking diners on my list, if not THE highest. Everything is perfect from the minute you walk through the door to the minute you walk out, clutching your stomach in pain ‘cuz you ate two desserts after your tuna melt and waffle fries. WHY AREN’T YOU EATING HERE RIGHT NOW?


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One Reply to “State Street Grill”

  1. hi bud

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