I can't even recall what used to be in this spot, but when the new made to look old Googie-style diner showed up on that stretch of Queens Blvd. near Target, a few years back, it threw me off. So shiny, so colorful, and the Pop in the name made me think Pop on 4th Ave. and Pop Burger, but it couldn't possibly be affiliated. Elmhurst doesn't draw the same clientele as the East Village and Chelsea.
I finally decided to pay a visit and appease James who often expresses a desire to eat there when we drive by. I usually veto in favor of Sripraphai, but I'm learning to make concessions. I was under the impression that Pop might be tweaking diner classics with newfangled touches, but it's relatively traditional fare with a few Latin American and Asian leanings.
I didn’t go for the pernil or plantains, though. We shared an ok quesadilla. I love reubens and usually only have the opportunity to order them in diners. This was an unorthodox specimen, as it came open faced. That’s an important detail to omit from the menu description. It also was lacking Russian dressing. It tasted fine enough, but it wasn’t all that a reuben could be. Something about sandwiches splayed open across the plate just feels geriatric to me. I’m not ready for the old folks home yet.
Pop does excel with little touches. The coleslaw was actually good, I usually take a bite just to see and ended up eating most of my little paper cup full. And the fries were crisp rather than fat and soggy like diner fries can be. The desserts, a small selection including chocolate cake, cheesecake and lemon meringue pie, were very enticing in the rotating case near the door. Who knows if their flavor matched their looks, but I'd like to believe it did.
Pop Diner * 80-26 Queens Blvd., Elmhurst, NY