Located in the Hamburg Village Square plaza, ZJ's occupies what was once a Your Host restaurant. (Some of us still call it the Pleasures & Pastimes plaza and remember the defunct diner.)
On a late Sunday morning, ZJ’s looked like it just survived a major assault. Waitresses hustled and busboys struggled to keep up with vacated tables.
Heading to an afternoon movie, we wondered if ZJ's could get us out in time. It would be tight.
In typical diner convention, deciding between breakfast and lunch on a large menu is always an issue. ZJ's posts specials of day and the coming week near the door. (A sheet at the table would have been helpful, as we were out of eyeshot.)
The breakfasts we saw looked great. Two eggs, home fries and toast will set you back $4.29. Two pancakes (or French toast), two eggs, two meats (bacon or sausage) clocks in at $6.69.
Corned beef hash with eggs, home fries and toast are $8.99. Steak and eggs and souvlaki breakfasts top out at $12.99. Breakfast sandwiches are $3.49 to $4.99. Friday through Sunday, Eggs Benedict ($10.49) and the like can be ordered.
For the pancake/waffle crowd, prices range from $5.29 to $7.29. Potato pancakes are $7.49. Three-egg omelets come with toast and home fries, or two pancakes or two French toast, a nice option for those who cannot decide between savory or sweet. Combinations range from $7.49 to $8.99.
In the mood for lunch, we had plenty of choices. Burgers start at $4.99, Texas hots $2.29 to 2.79, melts are $5.99, souvlakis start at $6.99 for garden to $8.99 with meats or tuna salad. Sandwiches and wraps range from $3.99 for grilled cheese to $5.99 hot roast beef or meatloaf. Melts are $5.99. Dinners run from $8.49 to $14.99. Friday adds seafood selections.
Hitting us with coffee while taking our order, Efficient Waitress Jess arrived a short time later with plates running up her arm, simultaneously pulling ketchup out of her apron. The rest of the order arrived with more water, coffee and double-check that we were OK.
Our Philly steak ($5.99) came on a super-fresh roll with a pickle. It was decent sized, filled with shaved steak, onions and peppers, and lots of gooey melted mozzarella.
A bacon turkey club ($8.79) filled the plate with a pile of chips running down the middle of the wedges. Triple-decker, the perfectly toasted bread contained thick layers of turkey, lettuce, tomato and bacon.
Our breakfast foray – a tender cheese Danish ($3.99) sliced in half – was grilled to golden brown. A side of home fries with onion ($2.79) filled a separate plate. We liked that they were made the right way from chunks of boiled potatoes. Too many places serve those hard square bits nowadays.
The Texas Burger ($5.69) was a handmade patty (uneven edges gave it away) on a fresh sesame bun, topped with the traditional hot dog fixings — Texas hot sauce, mustard and onions. The kitchen wisely added enough topping for good flavor but not too much for a sloppy mess. A side of fries ($2.59) arrived nice and hot.
On-The-Ball-Waitress-Jess dropped the check in a timely manner and we were on our way to the movie with time to spare. Good food, coffee and efficient service — the hallmarks of a great diner, including ZJ’s.
Where: 140 Pine St., Hamburg (Hamburg Village Square)
Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Open all holidays except Christmas.
More: Kiddie menu. Daily specials. Desserts include classic diner pies like coconut or chocolate cream, lemon meringue and apple.
Mmmm: Fried dough.
Wheelchair-accessible: Main room. Step to secondary dining area.