The rating system

Quality of the food has to be the priority, but we’re here to review diners, which are more than just the dishes they serve. We rate six categories, each on a scale of zero to five burgers in half-burger increments. Each place also gets a total score on the one-to-five scale. The total isn’t an average or a composite of the other scores—it’s a judgment of the overall experience.

Main Dish

The rating for the main dish also encompasses whatever sides may accompany it—mashed potatoes, steamed vegetables, buttered toast—except that there is a separate rating for…


Inapplicable if the main dish is breakfast or something else without a side of fries. But burgers and wraps are fundamental diner foods, making fries an important staple in their own right that merit their own rating. Also a note on the types offered: classic thick diner fries, shoestrings, waffle, curly, sweet potato…


We make the great personal sacrifice of ordering dessert as often as we can stomach it, for the benefit of our readers.


Inattentive waiter? Too attentive waiter? Sees that your soda is empty and refills it before you ask? Witty banter?


If the prices are too high, they’ve missed the point of a diner: simple, unpretentious, affordable.


We have yet to visit a diner with white tablecloths, atmospheric candlelight, or a personal violinist, so maybe “ambience” is a highfalutin word. But plenty of times we’ve noted that the music was too loud, the seats were wobbly, the surface wasn’t wiped clean before we were seated, or a draft from the front door blew directly on our table.