I’m going to go out on a limb and say that probably close to half of Lafayette’s population comes from New Jersey, home of the classic 24-hour diner. So what makes Key City Diner, a long-standing Phillipsburg institution, different than all the others? There’s just something about it. You sit down in a booth at Key City, open up the menu that has enough pages to be classified as a novel, get a glass of water in one hand and a cup of (bottomless!) coffee in the other, and you know you’re about to feel much better about the state of your life.
You know you can trust this place because Key City has been around forever (given away by the squeaky booth seats and old-school register). In all this time they’ve perfected the art of running a classic diner.
Sometimes eating your first meal of the day at 1 pm can be confusing. If it’s breakfast you’re seeking, do you want something sweet, like a massive plate of fluffy French toast, or do you need an always reliable bacon and eggs combo? Rest assured you will open that menu and immediately know what your poor, crumbling body needs in that moment.
My go-to is a spinach and feta omelette with a side of home fries and wheat toast, but every once in a while I just know that what I really need is the hickory burger, complete with bacon, cheddar and barbecue sauce. Whatever you decide on, you will leave feeling like a new person.
Buried deep inside that endless menu are two life-changing words: Vodka. Fries. I’m sure just hearing the word vodka in your hungover state is slightly vomit-inducing, but hear me out. These fries are the king of hangover food, a holy entity that deserves to be worshiped.
My obsession with vodka fries began with Key City’s pizza fries—a plate of French fries smothered in marinara sauce and melted mozzarella. You wouldn’t think it could get any better, but it does. Swap out the marinara for vodka sauce and, I promise, you will be in French fry heaven. Order a plate for the table to collectively attack before the rest of your food comes out, and you will never be able to happily eat a hungover brunch without vodka fries ever again.
Next time you wake up on a Sunday morning and need something greasy to soak up last night’s jungle juice that is somehow still intoxicating you, you know what to do. Key City will always be there waiting with open arms and a fresh cup of coffee to heal your wounded hungover soul. Eat some breakfast, eat some lunch, eat the weirdly sketchy hot dog omelette for all I care, but believe me when I tell you that your weekend is not complete without a trip to the best diner in Lafayette’s domain.
Address: 985 U.S. 22, Phillipsburg, NJ 08865
Hours: 24 hours