Review | Written and photographed by Nathan Mattise
If you’re seeking out a diner near Syracuse, N.Y., I’m not sure how you would ever stumble upon the Rise N’ Shine Diner. It’s a small establishment with minimal signage, tucked away near a Sunoco on a seldom used road off Erie Boulevard. To top that off, their web presence is minimal even for a diner. A Google search for their name doesn’t return any reviews, but it does bring you the same Post Standard article that convinced me to make a visit.
The Rise N’ Shine diner seems to be OK hiding within the ‘Cuse diner scene. That’s because they have one of the most genuinely unique angles for a diner in CNY. The diner has become a hotspot for anyone nostalgic about the old Syracuse music scene. The walls are lined with local artist records from the 50s-70s , the jukebox is filled with more of the same and former area standouts frequent the place for breakfast. The Post-Standard even referred to it as a “museum of sorts” for the past music scene.
The approach of the diner aside, it’s an average establishment. The menu, seating and hours (open for breakfast/lunch until 2 p.m. daily, breakfast only until 11 a.m. though) are all limited. That evens out a bit with affordable prices and great specials that rotate daily ($6 and change for roast beef and swiss ciabatta w/ choice of side on the day I went… unfortunately homemade mac and cheese is only a Friday side option).
The food was solid as well. Despite craving breakfast, the roast beef portions were large and it’s served just slightly warm to give the bread and overall sandwich a nice gentle texture. Fries were crisp and plenty as well. It left me wishing I could try the breakfast (next time) and also the homemade mac n’ cheese (next, next time?).
The Rise N’ Shine is a place to check out at least once, but unless you fall into the regulars/CNY music enthusiasts category, it’s probably not your first choice. The food is solid but limited hours and a limited menu are tough to justify with all of the other diners in CNY. Despite that, there is something charming about a place that knows it’s identity and sticks to it no matter what. That… and the waitress brought me a potentially homemade peanut butter cookie with the check (whether this practice is typical, a response to not being able to order breakfast or a daily special, there’s only one way to know).
The Final Tab
Pros: Cool angle for a diner, tasty food with large portions, affordable, friendly waitstaff
Cons: Limited hours (in particular no breakfast past 11 a.m.), limited menu (in particular, appealing specials only available on certain days), limited seating
Three Out Of Five (Basic combo | It’s OK – try it.)