What's in a name? Manhattan Diner says it all, meaning it has a gigantic menu with everything you could or would want at any time of the day plus the bonus of a full bar. Diners can be the perfect solution, pleasing all ages and different tastes. This one is a trifle soulless and very bright starting with the neon sign outside and can be awash in ankle biters as this is the Upper West Side, home of all things kid. That said, it's popular with those going to Symphony Space across the street as well as neighborhood locals. Expect crowds and tables of six or more.
Mornings offer breakfast with "jumbo" muffins (making me miss the small ones of yesteryear that had more taste and fewer calories) as well as all manner of Danish, eggs in every conceivable twist including Zorba's omelet with feta; the New Yorker with smoked salmon, capers and onions; pancakes, waffles and French toast (Savory American Toast means pound cake in egg batter topped with ice cream and berries.) Portions are humungous. At dinner when you sit down, a large dill pickle and pretty good coleslaw appear.
Salads and sandwiches have the classic diner look yet taste a little bland, even the classic of corned beef and turkey with cole slaw, melted Swiss and Russian dressing has a pre-fab look. Burger iterations sit on a cottony roll with a frilly lettuce leaf, tomato and onions. If you want fries, order the deluxe version. Overall, pastas and stir fries are the least well handled with sandwiches, Greek dishes like spanikopita and--surprise--fish treated more kindly.
Cheesecake, carrot cake, red velvet cake, bread and rice pudding for dessert? Bring it on--this is that kind of place. You can order online or by phone using all major credit cards.
Service is hit or miss; the other night, we asked repeatedly for a slice of lime but sometimes food comes in a nanosecond. Waiters aren't exactly gruff but they aren't warm and fuzzy either which is too bad for a place that caters to so many families.
In theory, Manhattan Diner is open from six am to 1 pm but at 10 at night there were only two waiters on patrol which may have accounted for slow service.
The decor is pleasingly garish in pink, peach and turquoise ablaze with "jewel" studded art on the walls. The place is Greek-owned and quite clean; prices are reasonable. It's not a top-of-the-line dining spot but hey, it's a diner so everyone in your group should be able to leave happy and reasonably --if not excitingly--well-fed.