The banter within downtown Red Hook’s most beloved diner is a confluence of wholesome small-town chit-chat and breathless college gossip, the same today as it was nearly 100 years ago. The first diner in New York State on the National Register of Historic Places is the poster child for a bygone era of charming roadside dining.
The aptly named Historic Village Diner is a 1927 Silk City model, a popular prefabricated dining car of the mid-century. They were known in the industry as the “Cadillac of diners” because they were sold complete with cups, glasses, and silverware. Each diner just needed water, electricity, and a name. This one was originally the “Halfway Diner,” for its location smack in-between New York City and the state capital, Albany. The original name is still painted onto the chrome exterior.
While it changed hands and subsequently moved a handful of times, the diner ended up right where it started, on Route 9, much to the delight of nostalgic customers.
Today, as ever, the Historic Village Diner draws an inordinately loyal following of locals and college students, a curious spectacle to the odd traveler who may be the only person in the constantly busy diner not on a first-name basis with the waitstaff. In fact, current owners Sam and Arleen Harkins are, themselves, former customers.
Standard diner fare applies, from eggs, hash-browns, and sausages to burgers, griddle-fried steaks, and salads. Standout dishes include the Silk City Special, a grilled turkey and bacon sandwich, as well as the over-sized cinnamon buns and hollandaise-drenched eggs Benedict.
The mild of appetite need not apply: It wouldn’t be an iconic diner if the serving sizes were too generous by half.
Know Before You Go