Local diner dash: a run down for anyone seeking an all-night diner where you can study for finals


Diners are comforting. They reliably give you what you want and there for you when you need them. You can stay up all night eating a plate of fries, or have pancakes for dinner. Because diners can be a good place to study for hours and offer an ample supply of food to stress eat.

With that in mind, The VOICE set out to find the best diners for students in need during finals week.

Our first stop was Golden Dawn located on 2090 Whitehorse Mercerville Road, about 8 minutes from campus.

While a Google search of this diner says that it is 24 hours, turns out you can’t actually beat Golden Dawn at dawn, because it closes at 11pm. We visited at 7pm, were greeted by the hostess and seated within 20 minutes.

The decor is an 80’s style with an old-fashioned soundtrack playing in the background. Apparently keeping with the retro theme. We were unable to access the Wi-Fi even though the waitress said they had it. If you are coming here to study, you’re going to be relying on good old-fashioned notebooks and pens.

When asked if students could hang out as long as they wanted, Adrienne Munich, a Golden Dawn waitress said, “You can sit here as long as you want, but it all depends on your server.”

The check came out to $30 dollars for a Caesar salad, mozzarella sticks, a cup of tea, and a cup of coffee. The salad was 12 dollars by itself. High price point, lack of Wi-Fi, and no assurance that you can stay here to study mean this diner isn’t the most appealing place for college students to go for a study session.

The next diner on the list was the Broad Street Diner, on 2654 S Broad Street in Trenton. They’re a 24-Hour diner that actually does stay open 24 hours a day. Plus, they do have Wi-Fi, though it can be spotty depending on how many people are using it.

Seating and service were speedy. From the entrance to the arrival of the food only took 20 minutes, plenty faster than Golden Dawn.

When asked about how business was for students, Nicole Watton, a hostess, stated “We’ve had plenty of students come in and study and it isn’t a problem. We usually try not to bother them too much.”

The prices were reasonable, and not just in comparison to Golden Dawn, just in general. Think $15 for a satisfying study session pig out.

A final note on Broad Street Diner is that it would be particularly useful in the later hours of the night, when business is slower and the place is quieter.

Following Broad Street we set out for Route 1 Diner, located at 2009 Rt. 1 in Lawrenceville.

Things started out well at Route 1 with speedier seating than either of the other two locations, but service progressively got worse as the night went on. The only things we got on time were our coffee and tea. On the other hand, it was the cheapest diner we went to, and the laid-back attitude made it most amenable to students.

If you have to pull an all-nighter Route 1 Diner is probably your best option. There is Wi-Fi accessible, the food is decent and was the cheapest of the diners we visited, plus as hosted Sophia Langone explained, “You can stay however long you want.”

Next stop: Denny’s, one of two chain restaurants on our list, and though not a traditional diner, it is open 24 hours and students could conceivably study there. Still, it has its reputation. It has been said that you don’t choose to go to Denny’s, you just end up there the same way you don’t choose to talk to your ex. It just happens.

Denny’s is under-staffed, with excruciatingly slow service, think 20 minutes to get seated and another half an hour for them to make a grilled cheese and soup.

The cost came to about $11, which is cheap. However, if you believe time is money, the length of time it took to actually get the food is reason enough to cross Denny’s off the list. Here are some more reasons, if that’s not enough: The server also checked back very infrequently and didn’t choose to answer any questions.

The VOICE not only doesn’t recommend Denny’s for studying but for eating at all.

The final stop of The VOICE’s diner dash is IHOP, another chain diner. When we arrived around 8:20 the restaurant was totally dead.

  Waitress Brielle Allen told us this was because “Saturday mornings are packed…Nights are usually dead because it is more of a breakfast place than it is a restaurant.”

We can sum up IHOP for you: just no. The hours aren’t good, they do not have Wi-Fi, and most staffers aren’t nuts about students taking up tables. 

Allen says if you order a coffee regularly you should be fine, still, those can quickly add up for cash-strapped college students. So just cross it off the list.

Final rundown: Broad Street or Route 1 are our best picks, but after so much diner food we are just going to stay in for a while!