Big Daddy's Diner
239 Park Avenue South
City: New York, NY
Phone: (212) 477-1500
Hours: Open 7 days Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Late Night Munchies
Site: Visit the restaurant site
2nd Cuisine: Diners
Area: Union Square
When you're on the same strip that houses monuments to food like Barca 18 and Barbounia, you have to do something big and bold to stand out. And in some ways be the anti-Barbounia. That's where Big Daddy's steps in.
Big Daddy's is a retro 50's style diner that acts and looks the part; a family friendly spot in a pretty family unfriendly part of town, and an oasis for young couples who can meet over an ice cream soda in one of its blue and orange vinyl booths. At one point I was almost expecting Opie to walk in, but then I thought, this isn't Mayberry, this is Park Avenue South. So is Big Daddy's crazy, or crazy like a fox? I'd say the latter based on the crowds streaming in. One reason may be the female waitresses dressed in their snug Big Daddy t-shirts. Or it could be the tunes. I felt my foot tapping to the beat of Rod Stewart singing, "If You Think I'm Sexy," and the Beatles' version of "Help." Or it could be the chochkas lining the walls; including pendants from old football teams that conjured up images of pom poms and cheerleaders, or the bowling pins, or maybe the white patten leather boots bearing a neon blue peace sign. Big Daddy's seems to hit all the right chords with its extra large portions at prices that won't bust the budget. Even the well-heeled can catch a break from the sky-high prices at some of the nearby ritzier establishments. But don't enter Big Daddy's with gourmet dreams, after all this is diner grub.
I tried the All American Burger 101 ($8.96), an 8 ounce patty served with lettuce and tomato. It was so big I had to hold it with both hands and squeeze down just to fit it into my mouth. It came with a healthy portion of tater tots, which tasted just as I remembered (still not sure if that's a good thing), freshly made cole slaw and a crisp kosher dill pickle. There's also the Daddy-O Burger ($10.92) made with Jalapeno Jack, smoked bacon and crispy onions, and Usinger's hot dogs featured in several varieties. You'll also find Blue Plate specials like Chicken A La King, Fill-er Up Beef Stroganoff and Honey Dipped Fried Chicken ($12). Kids meals, which include a large glass of chocolate milk and an ice cream sundae, come in at just under seven bucks.
You can go two ways with desserts: cakes or ice cream. Both are pretty decadent. The Big Chocolate Whopper cake ($6.94/slice) arrives with chocolate whoppers on top. Then there's the Triple Threat Banana Split ($9.92), three flavors of ice cream, with hot fudge, U-Bet strawberry and caramel sauce, whipped cream, bananas and cherries. Now what kid wouldn't love that, or adult for that matter? Welcome to the neighborhood - Daddy-O!
Review By: Sam Sayegh