Dating back to 1936, the State Diner is Ithaca’s fanciest greasy spoon

It’s a neighborhood greasy spoon and it’s a fancy Mediterranean eatery all in one, and this week 14850 Dining is paying a visit to the State Diner.

The State Diner has served Ithaca and Ithacans for over 80 years. 14850 Photo by Mark H. Anbinder.

The formerly 24-hour State Diner opened in 1936 as many old diners did, as a rail car that was soon expanded and rebuilt. It was damaged in October 2012 by a fire between the ceiling and the roof, and reopened in May 2013 after a major renovation and rebuild.

Unfortunately, the announced plans to return to 24-hour service, at first a few days, and then a few weeks, after the diner reopened, never materialized. The diner is now open 6am-10pm, and Ithaca residents with late-night munchies have to look elsewhere.

The gyro platter comes with a side of Greek salad.

But when they are open, it’s a snazzy diner with breakfast served any time, burgers and sandwiches, dinner salads, Italian entrees, a nice selection of Greek specialties, and even “pita pizzas.”

The generous portions of well-prepared fare are forcing us to rethink what feel like unexpectedly high prices — but are pretty reasonable for what we’re getting for our dollar.

The Mediterranean Omelet features gyro meat and feta cheese.

Come in before 8 and there’s a four-buck breakfast special, two eggs with toast, homefries, and coffee. Other than that, plan on $8-10 for breakfast, higher for some of the specialty omelets like the Mediterranean, which features strips of gyro meat, feta cheese, tomatoes, and onions. Served with home fries and toast, it feels worth it at $11.

Of course you can have pancakes or waffles, or a breakfast sandwich for five or six bucks.

Plenty of burgers to choose from, the usual combos plus some creative choices like a Greek burger topped with tzatziki and served on a pita. Or get closer to the Greek roots with a souvlaki or gyro platter, even spanakopita.

The diner still has a hint of its rail-car origins.

It’s the sort of neighborhood spot that attracts regulars, especially with that early-morning breakfast bargain. And after five years the new place still gleams and the staff is friendly and helpful.

Find the State Diner at 428 West State Street a few blocks west of the Commons or at thestatediner.com, or give them a call at 607-272-6189 and tell them you heard about them here.

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