Diner Week Critique: Niki’s Quick Cup (Syracuse, N.Y.)

Review | Written and photographed by Nathan Mattise

DirectionsWeb siteOverall Rating: 4

The old adage is that you can’t judge a book by its cover. However, in diner culture, you can totally… just not with the results you’d expect.  The traditional “greasy spoon” terminology combined with my travels leads me to believe the rougher the cover the better the book.  You see it all the time locally – Mother’s Cupboard or Mama Nancy’s for instance – so don’t let Niki’s Quick Cup fool you.  You’ll drive by the first time thinking it’s some type of shed for the nearby car dealer, but after entering just once, you won’t forget it again. 

Niki’s Quick Cup is located off the main street in Syracuse’s Tip Hill area. It’s open only for breakfast/lunch and I’m not sure how you’d come across without being tipped off. It doesn’t standout among the street filled with chain restaurants and pubs. As stated earlier, it doesn’t even stand out in the car dearlership parking lot it shares. To top that off, I had a hard time finding what was considered the entrance even.

The decor inside the Quick Cup is the absolute opposite however. The space is small, cozy and gives on a very welcoming home-like feel.  There are handdrawn figures on the handwritten menu board, decorations depending on whatever the season and tons of those stylized sayings you’d see in a grandmother’s kitchen.  The seating options are table or countertop and there’s not much space overall, but it’s a quintessential diner experience.

Service at the Quick Cup continues to add to the experience. The food comes out super quick (maybe 10 minutes) and the waitstaff is playful. There are little contests for regulars (like a 50/50 style raffle) even. You feel like you’re in someone’s home and they seem to embrace that sentiment.

Despite its cool ambiance, the Quick Cup’s real strength is the food. The menu changes daily to an extent with the specials and they really, really do the breakfast staples well. I hadn’t had any homefries that competed with Stella’s but the Quick Cup’s may take the cake.  Even CNY’s world famous potato expert calls them his favorite.  I opted for those with one of the daily specials – a corn beef hash omelette for under $7. Reasonable price but beyond average food. The hash itself would be good but it was incorporated so well into an omelette. The dish was hearty, surprisingly flavorful (no condiments needed) and definitely filling.

 

You won’t be able to find Niki’s Quick Cup on your own, but when someone recommends it the place comes with high regard. That’s the same sentiment I have now too – ideal atmosphere, great waitstaff and high craftsmanship on breakfast staples all adds up to a CNY breakfast you have to try once.

The Final Tab

Pros: Cool ambiance, home-feel from waitstaff, well constructed diner fare

Cons: A bit hard to find, average prices, limited seating

Overall: 4-homefries3

Four out of Five (Pancakes with sides | Some days you’ll seek it out)

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