Friday, February 21, 2014

Chance Encounter–A Diner in Clayton Missouri

At the end of a long but happy day of celebrating Laurie’s Aunt Lois’ 100th birthday and visiting with her family, we headed back to our hotel.  I avoided the Interstate highway to cruise toward Clayton Missouri from the western suburbs.  One objective was to see what had changed in the last couple of years. 

In reality, my primary goal was to find a place where we could stop in for something to eat.  I just didn’t see any restaurants that piqued my taste buds and I’d resigned myself to ordering something in the hotel… Then Laurie spotted the ‘solution’ to our cravings…and once again, ‘saved the day!’

We were nearing our hotel in the upscale Clayton area and there it was…a true diner for sure…Café Manhattan!  This restaurant has been in business since 1989… It’s a fact that 25 years is a long life for any restaurant!  There is no tougher business to succeed in…

Laurie took this photo from our table in Café Manhattan looking toward the front windows.  The restaurant has a total diner ‘feel’ to it!  Note the counter to the left with the stools…

This is a shot of the service area behind the counter.  There is just a ‘touch’ of Coca Cola promotional ephemera on display, don’t you think?  The whole restaurant was bright and shiny…clean too.

Laurie decided that she’d stick with soup and appetizers… With all the food at the birthday party and snacks at her sister’s house, we’d had plenty of food earlier in the day and she wasn't that hungry.  This is a bowl of Café Manhattan’s Potato Bacon Cheddar Soup. ($5.25) Laurie thought that it was very good!

I was a bit surprised that Laurie didn’t order a small thin crust pizza.  Of course, we’d had pizza only a day earlier.  A 9 inch pizza with sausage or pepperoni and mushrooms at Café Manhattan would have cost $10.50.  Another of her favorites is a Patty Melt with grilled onions…on the menu here for $8.95.

Along with her soup, Laurie ordered Garlic Cheese Bread for both of us to share. ($3.75) This was a nice solid version of a standard classic…cheesy and flavorful!

I did note that a ‘true diner’ would offer some basic meals…such as mac and cheese, a meatloaf diner, chopped steak, etc. and those items were absent from Café Manhattan’s menu.  Instead the menu featured appetizers, sandwiches including hamburgers, soups, diner salads, pasta and of course, the pizza as mentioned previously.

As far as I was concerned, I just couldn’t resist the sandwich menu… So many choices and so little time!  Would I order the Empire State BLT piled high with bacon ($8.45); the Wall Street with smoked breast of turkey, fresh spinach, white cheddar cheese, tomato and bacon served on grilled sourdough bread ($8.45), or: the Seasoned Beef Sandwich with lean roast beef on toasted garlic bread with melted provel and au jus on the side ($8.45)?

Nope!  Instead I went for The Carnegie! ($8.45) This hot sandwich was indeed piled high with thinly sliced pepper pastrami and Swiss cheese and it was served on toasted pumpernickel bread with lettuce, tomato, a pickle spear.  For my side I chose Café Manhattan’s homemade potato chips.  The sandwich was very…very satisfying…and the homemade potato chips were some of the best we’ve ever had!

We noted an old collectable version of Mambo the monkey, one of Laurie’s favorite childhood memories, flying near the ceiling of Café Manhattan in his Coca Cola pedal car!  As regards ambience, this 1950s-style diner with its vinyl booths, Formica counters, and retro Coca Cola memorabilia scattered throughout, definitely has an authentic appearance…

I noted that some of the on-line reviews of Café Manhattan were a bit negative but I must say that we came away with a positive impression of the restaurant and its food...  We would definitely go back should the opportunity present itself during another family visit. 

Café Manhattan is located at 505 South Hanley Road in Clayton Missouri. The restaurant is open 7 days a week.  Phone: 314-863-5695.  To the best of my knowledge, this restaurant does not have a website.

Just click on any of these photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. What a cute place and the food looks good too. No wonder they've been in business so long. You would have to have a smile on your face while eating there :)

  2. Sounds like you all picked the perfect place.. Reminded me of some of the Route 66 diners we ate at on our western trips....I remember having the best Rhubarb Pie at one of them... Diners are WONDERFUL.

    All of those sandwiches look awesome... But--so does the soup.... YUM.

  3. Café Manhattan looks really cool. :)

  4. David maybe you dont believe me but I , love all these things Coca Cola lol
    My son collect all with Coca cola:)
    take care!