Nope this isn’t the Tom’s Restaurant from Kiley E’s article a year or so back. I’m talking about Tom’s Restaurant on Broadway in Morningside Heights. If you haven’t figured out by now, the façade of the restaurant is, indeed, that of Monk’s from that famous show about nothing, “Seinfeld.” The interior of the cafe on the show is obviously on a soundstage (in Los Angeles <gasp>) and actually modeled after some other diner. The real Tom’s is like just about any other diner in NYC: crowded, a handful of booths, counter seating, wood paneled walls, pictures of famous guests adorning poles (the “Seinfeld” cast included), and some Greek guy yelling to someone he knows at the front.
BUT, I did not visit Tom’s to have a “Seinfeld” experience. I came in to have a Suzanne Vega experience. Perhaps more obscure than the popular sitcom, Vega’s hypnotizing “d00-d00-d00-doo doo doo doo-doo” 1987 song, “Tom’s Diner” was penned in and about Tom’s (by the way, while writing this, I’ve had the song stuck in my head and I really hope it gets stuck in yours after reading). So I wanted to pop in and see what it was like to sit “in the morning / at the diner / on the corner.”
The pizza burger came highly recommended, but for $8 I wasn’t feeling it. The milkshake was also recommended. For $5.25 you get 22 ounces of delicious, chocolatey lactose intolerance. The milkshake was actually a good deal as you can split it with someone else easily. Word on the street (from those crazy Columbia kids) is that their gravy fries are the thing for a broke-ass belly full of booze… and at $3.50 they are well worth it. Well, maybe not the morning after…
Everything I ordered came fast, hot and fresh and with a side of late 80s/early 90s pop music. Just kidding. Though I did try to hear the “bells of the cathedral” from the song… but alas, noisy middle schoolers prevented that. Either way, it was pretty cool for this pop culture nerd to sit at the same counter where a hit song was written. And if I hadn’t gone for the pizza burger it only would have cost me $5.25 (and some gastrointestinal distress).
2880 Broadway (between 112th and 113th Streets
Photo Credit: Wikipedia