We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“The Real Deal”

Crazy Otto's Empire Diner
Ranked #1 of 39 Restaurants in Herkimer
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $0 - $10
Cuisines: American, Diner
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Dining on a budget, Families with children, Kids, Local cuisine
Dining options: Breakfast, Brunch, Dinner, Lunch, Accepts American Express, Accepts Mastercard, Accepts Visa, Free Wifi, Highchairs Available, Parking Available, Seating, Street Parking, Takeout, Waitstaff
Description: Welcome to our original 1952 Mountainview Diner voted Best Upstate New York Diner. Best Atmosphere. Best Bacon. Best Hollandaise. Best Pie Crust. Now celebrating 65 years in the Mohawk Valley and once noted as the "most modern kitchen in New York." We have a HUGE menu and the best staff around. We offer special menus for Gluten Free, Kids and Seniors as well as a great Value Meal Menu including a beverage. Our food is homemade and we pay attention to all the small details. Located only one mile from the New York State Thruway (Interstate 90) at exit 30. You'll be so glad you decided to come visit. Thanks for checking us out.
Whitby, Canada
Level Contributor
23 reviews
20 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
“The Real Deal”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 14, 2012

First off, this is a Diner, with a capital D; this is not Chez Panisse. The metrics used to evaluate a rock concert differ from those of a classical concert. That said, this place rocks: if you're looking for the Classic, Authentic American Diner Experience in a place filled to capacity with friendly locals, this is the place.

On a map, Herkimer is exactly half-way between us and my in-laws, so we decided to meet in the middle for lunch -- which is how we came to discover Crazy Otto's via tripadvisor (of course!). When we arrived in downtown Herkimer, though, we couldn't find it: that's because the giant shiny "Empire Diner" letters surmounting the facade don't spell "Crazy Otto's". But after a moment's confusion we determined we were at the right place. (I'm still not sure how these names relate to each other...)

We went for Sunday brunch, and it was packed. There was a line spilling onto the sidewalk waiting to get in. I expect this is probably typical for every weekend. I wouldn't be surprised if this was the case throughout the week. Clearly this is a popular place.

And it's easy to see why. And no, it's not because it's the only place in town. Herkimer, like so many other towns in upstate New York, has been hard hit by the downturn. Crazy Otto's feels like a nostalgic oasis of pleasantry and good times, a place of welcome and heaping mounds of food for all.

Of course the portions are big. This is a Diner, with a capital D, so everything is big about Crazy Otto's: the size of the menu, the amount of food that arrives on your plate, the local color, the Americana that fills every inch of wallspace... even the bonhomie. The staff are some of the nicest people in the restaurant business, and go out of their way to make you feel like one of the family. The one thing that isn't huge is the boothspace and the general layout, but that's not surprising given how packed the place is.

It's no wonder the locals love it. While we were there we saw a lucky soul at the counter get a free meal from a spin of a wheel by the kitchen entrance. That was cool. This is a place that knows its importance to its community, and I appreciated that a great deal.

Ultimately, this is a place more about community than just being a restaurant. This is an authentic Place finding its way amid a processed world where consumers are just units to be processed themselves. No, here at Crazy Otto's you feel the humanity. That makes this place something special.

Heaping portions of Classic Diner food served by super-friendly people in a Classic Diner setting suffused with local color... Yeah, we'll be back.

  • Visited September 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank Aleksi M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

199 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    106
    63
    19
    6
    5
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Potsdam, New York
Level Contributor
370 reviews
228 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 168 helpful votes
“"You'd be Crazy Not to try Otto's Empire Diner!"”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 10, 2012

We just enjoyed two nights of dinners at Crazy Otto's and both trips were excellent experiences. On Friday night their Fish Fry will fill you up with Breaded haddock, fries, coleslaw, and a fine salad. Did you see the SIZE of the fish? Who ever said size didn't matter? Otto DELIVERS a filet and ours were perfectly cooked. Saturday night we enjoyed the Crazy Chicken and the Chicken Parmesan - both real hits with our taste buds. Did you see the size of that Chicken Parm? Yes, Otto's delivered a huge but perfectly cooked chicken breast on a boat load of spag with delicious sauce. Really good, but better still was the friendly service and social connections with the staff and community. It is really nice to see a place where locals can enjoy each other and the atmosphere. Weekends they are open around the clock, so do it right and do stop in to the Empire Diner!

  • Visited November 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank mdkadk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Rochester, New York
Level Contributor
168 reviews
117 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 70 helpful votes
“Great Location, great food, great atmosphere, great price...be sure to stop in!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 4, 2012

We were headed to Vermont on the NYS Thruway and wanted a bite to eat for lunch. We took exit 30 and drove a short distance into Herkimer and there was Crazy Otto's Empire Diner. We pulled in and we are glad we did.

The place was busy, but we were seated almost immediately. A nice variety of food on the menu to select from. The service was fast and efficient. The whole staff had a great, friendly attitude. We ordered right away and then started looking at the license plates on the wall and ceiling from virtually every state.

The food was prepared perfectly and tasted great. We liked it so much we stopped two days later for lunch on our return trip.

  • Visited October 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank Raggs99
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Detroit, MI
Level Contributor
110 reviews
86 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 53 helpful votes
“Good diner food”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 28, 2012

I think a previous reviewer was unfair. Crazy Otto's attracts a wide variety of people, who are usually treated very well. I have eaten at the Empire Diner over the years and never had any problems if I accept Herkimer on its own terms. They make their own corned beef hash (the only way I'll order it) and the coffee was hot and constant. What's not to love?

Visited October 2012
Helpful?
1 Thank Motowners
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Saratoga, NY
Level Contributor
37 reviews
20 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 60 helpful votes
“A nice local find”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 24, 2012

Great breakfast and lunch. Try anything with the Ortega chilis. They are similar to green chilis and adds a mild chili flavor to any sandwich or burger. Greated personally at the door by owner. Extremely friendly staff, very attentive and sincere. Large portions, neat decor and typical diner surroundings. We enjoyed our meal and experience. Place was full of locals and repeat customers. It was clean and staff was quick to clear and wipe tables for the constant line of guests. We'll make this a frequent stop when traveling from Albany on Thruway.

  • Visited September 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank Donitta21
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Crazy Otto's Empire Diner also viewed

 

Been to Crazy Otto's Empire Diner? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing