Newly Opened Eugene’s Diner & Bar Is a Blast From the Past in Port Chester
David DiBari created a retro American diner that’s made for 2019.
Photos by Andrew Dominick
In December, David DiBari, chef/owner of The Cookery and The Parlor in Dobbs Ferry, broke the news that the much-speculated-about project he was working on in Port Chester would be Eugene’s Diner & Bar (named after his grandfather), a modern diner with inventive takes on homey American comfort classics. For DiBari — who’s coming off another opening, The Rare Bit in Dobbs Ferry — this Port Chester diner, which opened last week, is something he’s wanted to do for a while. “I felt like diner culture had been lost for a long time,” he says. “It exudes fun, and it’s a license for me to do whatever I want.”
“Whatever” he wants means local-ish ingredients from finer purveyors than your neighborhood diner, cooked by talented chef Iulia Mahu and Culinary Director John Poiarkoff. There are steaks and roasts, dry aged for 36 days in-house, and they’ll be curing their own soppressata and salami for charcuterie. But don’t think that all of this equates to stuffy. “It’s burgers, shakes, pancakes, and caviar,” DiBari says. “What a diner is to me is all walks of life coming together: police, firefighters, a priest, blue collar heroes, or you can come in for an important business meeting. You can get an $11 burger or a Japanese pancake with foie gras. Port Chester is culturally diverse with a good music scene, and we’re also close to a different audience in Rye and Connecticut, so we have to cater to that.”
Still not sure what to expect? Let’s take a closer look at this funky new restaurant.
Don’t be thrown off by the floral wallpaper, yellow booths, rotating cake display, wood and fake-stone paneling, and photos of John Wayne and Wonder Woman, this is 2019! “We went for a 70s basement Hollywood look,” DiBari says. “You can come in and treat it as a diner, or you can come in here to drink.”
Grab a table, sit at the nostalgic diner counter (with a front row seat to the kitchen action), or you can crash at the bar where eight beers, six wines, and one juice will be on tap in addition to a cocktail program.
It’s a diner, so expect all-day breakfast. Most items are priced $10 or less, with fancy add-ons available. We mentioned the Japanese pancakes with foie, but there are also waffles with a possible bone marrow upgrade, and this thick-cut, griddle-toasted milk bread with a heaping spoonful of egg yolk custard to which you can add caviar.
Burgers, melts, pastrami sandwiches, and grilled cheese are a huge part of Americana. Eugene’s has all that, but they’re doing it their way (think short-rib “pastrami). The grilled cheese is packed with gooey white cheddar and an inside-out twist: The entire sandwich gets wrapped in a coating of crispy cheese.
A foot-long hot dog wasn’t good enough, so they went with a 13-incher, made in-house with homemade sauerkraut and mustard. The custom holder it comes in is pretty cool, too, and if you are sharing (not sure why you would), you can evenly and slice it up.
In addition to dry-aging beef, Eugene’s is also air-drying chickens to achieve optimal skin crispiness. A generous salting and a spin in the scorching hot rotisserie results in a cheffy revamp of chicken and gravy. It’s juicy; it’s comforting; and it’s served with a slice of milk bread that soaks up the chicken’s natural drippings during the cooking process.
Meatloaf wouldn’t get much of a look from some folks (myself included), but don’t overlook this blue plate special! Eugene’s version is essentially a giant, well-seasoned, tender meatball, served with Swedish gravy.
The rotating pie display is sure to tempt you with choices like banana cream, stickabutta (a favorite from The Cookery), and apple pie, pictured here with hand-spun cotton candy.
Currently, Eugene’s is open for dinner only Tuesday through Sunday. After its soft opening phase, hours will expand to include lunch and weekend brunch.
112 N Main St
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