A Prospect Heights institution since 1936 and owned by members of the same family since the 1940s, Tom's Restaurant is part diner, part interactive museum exhibit. It's decorated with stained glass, faux flowers, and American flags. Find an archetypal chocolate egg cream, made in five easy steps with milk, seltzer, and chocolate syrup (always Fox's U-Bet) stirred with vigor and topped with whipped cream. Long lines form during primetime brunching hours, but the waitstaff will reward your patience with gratis orange slices, sips of coffee, and breakfast meats. Jim Kokotas (nephew of Gus Vlahavas, the devoted owner who worked in the restaurant from age nine up until his death in November 2014) has run the show since 2009, expanding the business to include a branch on the Coney Island boardwalk. In recent years the menu has swelled to fit the neighborhood's changing demographic, with specials like sweet potato latkes and spicy chicken or beef burritos. Tom's remains a community restaurant at heart, sustaining multiple generations of families on mammoth platters of meat loaf with eggs and potato hash, and fluffy lemon-ricotta pancakes rife with citrus tang and served with a trio of flavored butters.
782 Washington Avenue
Monday to Friday 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Photo by David Penner
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