Pearl St. Diner: Look Past The Seediness And Find A Pretty Stellar Burger

Here’s a confession: I’ve always wanted to eat at the Pearl St. Diner based solely on its sign. You just don’t find places with awesome neon signs like that anymore. Plus, whenever I walk by its location on Pearl (at Fletcher) it always looked packed with a diverse crowd of people and it just seemed like a good place for solo dining. On one of our many recent days of gross weather, I headed over because clearly eating outside was not going to happen and there aren’t a ton of places in the FiDi to have a sit-down lunch within ML price guidelines. Off I went with visions of greasy diner food dancing in my head.

I got there fairly late for lunch but the place was still mostly full and I was sat at a weird table in an alcove room. My waitress soon came over with a bowl of pickles, and everyone knows pickles taste even better when they’re free. After briefly considering ordering the honey-dipped fried chicken or a breakfast item (they serve it all day!) I decided it was better to stick with the basics and order a burger.

I went with one that had American cheese and sauteed mushrooms and onions on it ($9.25 with fries). Yes, most of the burgers here approach the $10 mark if you want them with fries and all of the fixings. That may factor into whether you eat there, but for this experience it was totally worth it.

I ordered the burger medium and to my surprise it was actually cooked that way. There were two slices of American melted on top but that took a backseat to the actual burger which was not massive, but still delicious. It seemed like it was actually made from fresh beef and not frozen patties. This was the best burger I’ve eaten in the FiDi since Five Guys opened last year. The mushroom and onion topping weren’t so awesome that I would order them again because I think this burger is just fine with cheese and nothing else. The only downfall was that the burger was so juicy (er, greasy) that the bottom bun disintegrated about three-quarters of the way through eating it.

The fries were also good, but I know not everyone likes the thick-cut type. At least they weren’t all soggy as is usually the problem with these kind of fries.

I can only vouch for the burger being good at this diner, but based on that I may be back to try that fried chicken.

THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)

  • It’s a diner. In the Financial District.
  • It’s good, greasy food and sometimes you need heartburn in your day.
  • Free pickles!

THE — (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • It’s kind of dirty.
  • The food isn’t that cheap.

Pearl St. Diner, 212 Pearl St. (at Fletcher), (212) 344-6620



  • The pickles that they start you off with are great. Combination of half sours/new sours. Not many diners around here offer that.

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    I used to go here a lot with my co-workers, but I think people were regularly disappointed with their food, so we stopped. I stuck with grilled cheese and fries and that worked out pretty well. The veggie burger, however, was terrible, while the curly fries and chocolate egg cream were great.

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    Suggestion: get around the disintegrating roll problem when you order a burger at a diner by asking them to put it on a heard roll rather than a hamburger bun. This is not something that you can usually do at a usual hamburger place but at a diner there should be no problem.


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    Seedy and storied. Pearl St. Diner used to be open overnight when the mafia ran the Fulton Fishmarket. I guess they could make a go of it after losing that clientele because they actually would seat and serve you even if they didn’t know you.

    There were quite a few little places in the area back then that were always “booked up”, even if they were empty.

    I like the grilled cheese too. And the scrambled eggs.

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