Excessive Mastication: Crossing the State Line

This review originally appeared in The Ramapo News

Jess: So we’re going to that place. You’ve all been there, most of you at least. Some of you in the morning with your parents, some of you in the evenings with friends. It’s not the Birch. It’s not the Pavilion. It’s our green-and-chrome platedfriend, the diner of choice at Ramapo. I ordered a diet cola from our friendly waiter, and with a wink and a grin we selected our appetizers.

James: The wink and grin was from our plan: go to the diner at 1 a.m. to see how the food and service compares to more regular hours. I started the experiment by ordering the most vile sounding starter: tuna fish stuffed potato skins. Two scoops of tuna fish salad in a crispy spud skin with a layer of melted cheese, just one sat in my stomach like a stone for days. If you like tuna melts and eating once a week, four of these would be an ideal meal.

Jess: Our other appetizer was quintessentially New Jersey. While Canada has poutine and China has Dim Sum, the Garden State gathers around Disco Fries at diners and dives. A vague canned gravy and mozzarella tops a pile of french fries. I must admit, these weren’t the best I’ve ever had. They could’ve used more time under the broiler to create a bubbly texture and less time under a heat lamp, as they got very soggy.

Left: A great waffle. Right: A poor choice- the tuna fish potato skins

James: Though they did make it to the table quickly. Despite other diners literally falling asleep where they sat, or being rowdy and drunk enough to attract the attention of the cop sitting in a booth across the way, the service was great. The daytime staff better fits the stereotype of surly waitresses that take
your order with a frown. The night crew almost seemed happy to be there in a weird way, and gave us personal service with a smile.

Jess: I got the diner classic, the Gyro. Done traditionally, it’s ground beef that slowly roasts like a rotisserie chicken. Slice it into thin sheets, slather on some tzacki, and you’re as Mediterranean as Caesar himself. Not the salad, that was invented by a Mexican chef. I ordered one and was saddened that in these modern times diners don’t use meat-on-a-stick any more. Paired with cool veggies it was a sensation in my mouth. Despite lacking cooked-on-a-stickedness, it was delicious.

James: The single item that surprised me the most was the tender meat of the ribs. These ribs weren’t just good for being from a diner, these were legitimately good ribs charred up on a grill with thick barbeque sauce that stuck to the meat and not your fingers. Like anything from a Jersey diner, I had mine with black coffee that was surprisingly fresh and tasty even at early hours.

Stateline Ribs: they actually qualify as tasty

Jess: While they feature many hand-baked desserts, they’re perhaps best known for their milkshakes and multitude of drink specials. The milkshake was made with such care that it had layers of whipped cream, chocolate syrup and sprinkles on top. I drank it, drank it all up.

James: I play a game every time I go there and order a drink from their boozy shake section called a “Black Forest.” No one knows what this drink is, a fact freely admitted to me by several of the wait staff, and I get something different, strong, and tasty every time.

Bottom Line: When you’re looking to stuff your face after late night cramming, check out the only diner in town open after midnight- the service and food quality are better than you’d ever expect.
State Line Diner
375 Route 17
Mahwah, NJ 07430
(201) 529-3353

Overall: B+
Atmosphere: B-
Food: B+
Bathroom: D
College Student Friendly: A+

~ By Jess Dutschmann and James Houde, Staff Writers for The Ramapo News


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