BY MATT SHORTALL
The Jackson Diner has been a landmark in the Jackson Heights community of Queens for decades. Attracting a diverse demographic of customers since 1983, the diner has earned such a good reputation that the owners opened another restaurant in Floral Park.
Jackson Diner takes visitors’ taste buds on a 7,600-mile journey from the lush farmlands of Northern India to the waterfront regions of the South. The inventive and robust menu offers a rich array of diverse and aromatic dishes that artfully blend unique flavors with fresh ingredients.
Current owner Manjit Singh first started working at the Jackson Diner when his father bought the building back in the early 1980s and transformed it from a standard American diner to one specializing in Indian cuisine.
“In ’83 there were only three or four Indian stores on this block,” Singh said. “Now the whole block is pretty much Indian stores.” Singh says the most popular dish on the menu at the Jackson Diner is the chicken tikka masala. “It’s a recipe from North India made from fresh tomatoes, onions, and finished with a little bit of cream,” he said. But not all of the food the diner has to offer is Indian. The menu is a blend of flavors, including a small selection of traditional American diner foods, such as the chili chicken. The menu includes many “fusion types of food,” according to Singh.
The diner has not only become a source of pride for the Singh family, but also for local residents in Jackson Heights. “There are a lot of Indian restaurants in the neighborhood, but the Jackson Diner is in a league of its own,” said Maria Lewis, who works nearby at Elmhurst Hospital.
“The samosas are the best in town, but the Kashmiri kabab is definitely my favorite.”
The quality and environment of the Jackson Diner is well known outside of the neighborhood, though. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Harrison Ford, Sylvester Stallone and Shatrughan Sinha are just a few of the prominent figures who include the Jackson Diner among their favorite places in New York to grab a bite.