I'm trying to change New Jersey's reputation one food article at a time. I wasn't born here, but I lived here for most of my life, and feel like I have a personal mission to shine a light on all of the (surprising) greatness that NJ actually has to offer. So far we have covered NJ's best donuts, best bagels, and now it's time for this: the best diners in New Jersey.

Everyone in the tri-state area knows that New Jersey takes the lead on having the best diners. We had to think of something to put at every exit on the Garden State Parkway to keep you from crying in your Dunkin' during the inevitable & random traffic at 2:07 pm.

Some may argue that it isn't exactly hard to be considered a "good" diner, but the following places will serve you the best pancakes, pork roll egg & cheese, and burger on a kaiser roll any time of day.

So to kick off the list of best diners in New Jersey, we're starting down south.

1. Chicken or the Egg

Chicken or the Egg, or Chegg, is one of my favorite diners. Open 24/7, it's the absolute go to on Long Beach Island. Nationally known for their insane chicken wings, (how'd the Ludicrous Sauce feel, Adam Richman?) Chegg also has some creative dishes, like my favorite, the Goshdarnwich, a bacon, egg, & cheese on French toast.

2. Mustache Bill's

Mustache Bill's was one of NJ.com's top ten finalists in their Best Diner showdown, as well as nominated as a "Culinary Legend," also from NJ.com. Their creativity and quality of food have been off the charts since their opening in 1959 – I mean, look at that mustache pancake. Who else does that kind of thing!?

3. Gus's Diner

Gus's Diner has a fan club. I'm not even kidding!  Their Instagram is filled with rave reviews and loyal fans, one of which, is me. Their cookies and desserts are made on site so freshness is always guaranteed. Their menu is Mediterranean-inspired and every dish is always made from scratch...ample time goes into your order here. They even cater and host parties!

4. Skylark Diner

Skylark Diner is different from almost all of the others in this list (the exception being the Americana Diner below.) The team behind Skylark didn't want their diner to be just another kitschy cheap restaurant, but one with a classically trained Chef with dishes inspired by cultures and foodways from around the world:

"Skylark created a totally different class of restaurant by offering a collection of dishes from around the world, created by a classically trained Chef, while still providing a unique rendition of top notch classic diner fare," their website boasts. They were also voted as the Best Diner by New Jersey Monthly!

5. Americana Diner

Similar to the Skylark, the Americana Diner is revolutionizing the typical NJ diner...so much so, I don't even think it's fair to call it to a "diner."  Inside Jersey Magazine calls the Americana "The Best Diner Breakfast and Best Diner (overall) in New Jersey," and I can vouch for that. I come here so often, I don't even need to look at the menu anymore. I basically have it memorized. From their freshly baked bread down to their cocktails at their huge beautiful bar, everything at Americana is fabulous.

6. Ponzio's

Another one of NJ.com's ten finalists for Best Diner, Ponzio's has been my family's go-to for years...over 40 years to be exact. The quality of food, the service, and the overall ambiance give the diner more of a restaurant feel than anything else. Their baking is done on-premises, and they even have a banquet hall for weddings and huge celebrations.

7. Doo Wop Coffee Shop

I'm not sure if Doo Wop Coffee Shop is typically considered a diner, but checks every box on my "What Makes a Restaurant a Diner" list.  Attached to a small motel in Wildwood, NJ, my family and I always drive over to eat breakfast here. The retro decor and proximity to the beach aren't the only things to love: their food, like these cinnamon bun pancakes, is off the charts, and it doubles as an ice cream parlor.

8. Roadside Diner

This place is legit – it's been truck driver approved on Thrillist. The Roadside Diner is a small, airstream-esque, side-of-the-road joint with a neon "Diner" sign...also known as one of New Jersey's oldest diners. With decor dating way way back, it isn't dated, it's old school, and exactly what you want a diner to look like.

9. Top's Diner

I don't think I've ever seen a diner receive more accolades than Top's. They were a finalist in NJ.com's Best Diner search, Time Out magazine called them the Nation's best, and it was also the top-listed diner on the Foursquare app. If their giant, Broadway-esque "Top's Diner" sign doesn't draw you in, I'm sure their menu will.

10. Broad Street Diner

Broad Street Diner won NJ.com's Best Diner in New Jersey showdown. And Bobby Flay filmed here for a CBS segment about the best diners. Need any other reasons to stop on by? Their menu is absolutely killer – I would order the Chocolate Babka French Toast, the All-American Cheeseburger, and the Mac and Cheese Wedges just for breakfast.

Who doesn't love a diner?!  Breakfast for dinner, dessert for lunch, shrimp cocktail at 4am or pie at 9am, coming from the beach, a concert, or from crying on the Parkway, no one judges here in the Garden State, especially at diners.