Friday, April 24, 2009

Sullivan’s Diner (Horseheads, NY)

-leave your own

“What’ll it be, Hon?”

The American diner. Who doesn’t love these 20th century icons?

On a very cold day in March after a morning of punching through hard-packed road fill (not finding much more than recent roadside trash), the PAF staff headed to Sullivan’s Diner on Old Ithaca Road in Horseheads. One is drawn not only to the diner’s classic narrow, streamlined appearance, but the delightful smell of grease and seared animal flesh as well. The listing describes “an Irish-named diner serving great Polish and American food in a real 1940 made-in-New Jersey diner with 35 seats and most of the original equipment.” While the exterior could use a little TLC, the interior’s generous amount of stainless steel, tile and other shiny materials is well kept.

Sullivan’s owner-chef-waitress-clerk greets customers as they enter the diner through a sliding pocket door. Yes, menus are provided, but she will likely take your order without turning away from her position at the grill. The diner has obviously built a loyal customer base, which is evident by the friendly banter and familiar report.

In several locations throughout the diner there are small signs marking the water level from Elmira’s 1972 flood, the worst in its recorded history. The PAF crew on this particular visit agreed that the restroom end of the diner – the furthest from the delightful aroma of the grill – did indeed smell as if were flooded 3 decades ago.

Abandoning much of my more than adequate bag lunch, I was lured in by the suggestion of chocolate cake and coffee. With an expectation of the kind of coffee that helps your spoon stand straight in the cup, I was pleasantly surprised by a quality cup of joe – served in the ubiquitous heavy, cream-colored ceramic mug (dinerware?). As for the chocolate cake, it was unmistakably a Sam’s Club Triple Chocolate Bundt Cake. Although not homemade, this is the stuff of chocoholic dreams and Sullivan’s offers up a four serving-sized slice.

To sum up the Sullivan experience: good eats at GREAT prices, all to be had in a wonderful venue. Somehow food is more satisfying when you feel you’ve gotten your money’s worth (or better). I whole-heartedly recommend this establishment as a worthy travel stop!

I appeal to others who have dined at Sullivan’s to further comment on the variety and quality of food . . . from pancakes to pierogi.


  1. I need to get to this place. Someone, quick, get another road project going in Horseheads! We stopped in to the ice cream place in that town on Friday, and I was surprised at how insanely nice it was inside. What is with the Garden Center + Ice Cream places in that part of the state? Is it part of an arcane local zoning ordnance? The other one in Big Flats is also a good place to get Creemies, as the Vermonters would say it.

  2. Sullivan's, yum. You can get kielbasa, cooked up on the griddle before your eyes, with absurd and wonderful amounts of sauerkraut, and a generous pile chips - all for a little over $4. You may well regret it 10 STPs later... but in the meantime? So worth it.

  3. I am in the 'Heads this very week, and I will be eating there, for darn sure!