We used to live two blocks away from City Diner, which means we'd go anytime we were in a hurry, hungover or lazy. The restaurant itself is rather small, so if you go with a crew, be ready to divide and conquer. They get you in and out quickly, and you can tell you're surrounded by a lot of regulars. Bonus points, because they do have a very small alleyway, which is surprisingly nice to sit in during the summer months.
I've been to City Diner a multitude of times, and I've had generally positive experiences. Keep in mind you're at a diner, and you'll definitely be satisfied. My favorite meals are their omelets because they're cheap, delicious and come with a ton of sides. If you're looking for economical, the omelet is definitely where you want to look. My favorite is meat lovers, because meat, duh.
If you're not an omelet person, their Benedict's are pretty on point, too. I feel like their muffins usually weren't toasted enough, but it was perfectly pleasant regardless. The New York Benedict features pastrami, which is always a good time for my mouth.
The one problem you may run into at City Diner is if you are looking to the lunch menu more than the breakfast menu. I once got the tuna sandwich, and it was worse than what I would have made at home, and I hate paying for things I could make better (mainly because that's setting the bar pretty low). For my side, I asked my waitress if she suggested the mashed potatoes or mac n' cheese, and she told me,
"I'd go with the mac n' cheese because the potatoes are from yesterday."
I genuinely appreciate her honesty, but I'm also a little weirded out that
- They reuse prepared food day in and day out
- And that they are public about reusing food.
However, the mac n' cheese was good, but pepper-y. My roommate, on the other hand, got chicken fingers, which were horrendous. I don't know how chicken fingers can be that messed up, but I tried a nibble and they were almost chalky, way overcooked and very hard. Hopefully they were just a bad batch and are usually better.
I'm willing to take my chances on City Diner though, they're cheap and a solid diner-food choice.