As any Brooklyn resident will tell you, it often seems as if the entire borough is gentrifying faster than you can say “bespoke yarn cooperative.” Sure, bike shops and popular Neapolitan pizza joints are convenient, but with this cultural movement comes a loss of what many would call the “gems” of the old neighborhood. Luckily, it appears as if Tina’s Place isn’t going anywhere any time soon.
Legend has it that the corner space has been operating as a diner for nearly a century (“Serving the neighborhood for over 80 years!” the staff’s maroon t-shirts exclaim), but Athina Skermo and her husband bought the diner 44 years ago. Located across the street from the Boar’s Head factory, they’re open 3:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day, catering to the workers that need a hot breakfast or lunch during their break. These hours also accommodate late night partiers and weekend late risers, and Tina’s prices are equally universally pleasing to the blue collar and twenty-something professionals alike.
Your best bet is breakfast, and there’s a lot to choose from — egg, cheese, and breakfast meat sandwiches; omelettes, pancakes of various sizes with fruit if it strikes your fancy; and a separate specialty Belgian waffle menu that includes accompaniments such as two eggs any style, your choice of breakfast meat, a scoop of ice cream, or you can go with the Waffle Deluxe: a Belgian waffle served with your choice of ham, bacon, or sausage; two eggs any, home fries, and your choice of bread for toast.
Sure, the interior probably hasn’t been updated since Skermo bought the place back in the early 1970s and it’s very evident that the staff operate in an only ever-so-slightly control state of chaos, but the food and people are warm and will put a smile on your face. Oh, and the prices? $3.50 for loaded breakfast sandwiches, banana pancakes are just $5.50 (and you can add 5 strips of bacon for an additional $1.50), and the Waffle Deluxe — one of the most expensive menu items by far — is $10.
So although Tina’s bacon may not be artisanal and they don’t have an espresso machine, they do serve solid, affordable food and provide a space where all of Bushwick feels welcome and comfortable.