Johny’s Diner – Albany, NY

I really like diners. Breakfast at a diner is one of my favorite things.

My food bubble has been expanding on facebook, and, a while back, I received a friend request from someone named “Johny’s Diner.”  Shortly after that, Steve Barnes posted his first look at a place called Johny’s Diner. I put the two together, and more closely followed the updates of this friend. Don’t worry. Johny’s Diner has since created a page on facebook.

I had trouble figuring out exactly what it was. They were posting things like farm to table weekends, and this has become more prevalent in recent weeks, but it’s a diner in a, lets say, interesting part of central avenue in Albany (66 central avenue). So one morning, I made the trip down to Johny’s for breakfast.

The “Open” light wasn’t on, but the door was open.

It was about 8am on a Sunday morning, and the place was empty. It looked like the staff was regrouping and cleaning up after a really busy overnight shift. The place is mainly set up as a counter with some pretty low seats, and there was one table. We took the table.

The breakfast menu is impressive. There are a bunch of standard menu items and some pretty unique stuff, but the prices are way lower than you’d expect. I just love corned beef hash, so a breakfast of eggs, hash, and grits for $8 sounded perfect.

And, actually, Johny’s is responsible for giving me my first poached eggs, and they were great!

It was actually pretty cool. I was able to watch the young lady prepare our breakfast; the flattop is out right behind the counter. She put up a fresh pot of water with vinegar to poach the eggs as well as a separate pot to cook the grits. She also placed some blanched potatoes and corned beef from the fridge on the flattop and started to get some color on them. When everything was close to coming together, she put the toast in the toaster, and everything magically was ready at the exact same moment! The ability to time everything like that is astonishing to me.

The hash was really great. The corned beef was clearly homemade, and it was unorthodox. I can’t quite put my finger on what was going on with it, but I loved it. All I got from a brief interaction on facebook was that they marinate the beef and that it was their secret recipe. That’s what they all say!

The eggs were perfectly poached. I lightly prodded them to let the yolk run over the hash, and the texture of the egg yolk added additional richness to each bite.

The toast was good, but I wasn’t a fan of the margarine spread they used to “butter” it. The grits were also a bit disappointing, as there was a huge dollop of the same spread on top, there was no seasoning added to the grits, and they were a little under cooked.

As I was eating, the waitress brought me over some sausage, which I had forgotten came with the breakfast.

The sausage patties were superb. They tasted like there might be some secret recipe to this too.

While we were eating, the young lady cooking the food, the server, and a few people in the back were chatting about some guy who goes around pretending he’s an Albany detective who goes in there all the time. That was a fun conversation.

And all of that was just $8. And the hash wasn’t out of a can, and I got to see it all be made from start to finish. Johny’s is a cool little place to go.

But there’s more!

Their normal burgers, hot dogs and dinners all sound awesome. And their farm to table menu, sourced from farms and providers in Montgomery county, where the people who run the place are from, looks impressive. Remember, this is a diner.

And wait…there’s more!

There’s a burger challenge at Johny’s. You guys know I love ridiculous burger challenges!

I didn’t get to read the full details of the challenge on the wall. I’m assuming that if you finish it, you get it for free, get your face on the empty wall of fame, and maybe something tangible. I imagine that if you don’t finish, your dumb face goes onto the wall of shame and you have to pay for it financially, physically, and emotionally. According to my buddy, The Fuj, Johny’s Giant Burger consists of 1.5 lbs of meat, 8 slices of cheese, 1/2 lb of bacon, all on a round Price Chopper LOAF of bread, and fries. You can read all about how this visually defeated him and his dudes who also couldn’t finish it.

Dare me. I’ll try it!


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