East County Times Dining Guide

These diners are regulars at Essex Diner. They recommend the Roma Wrap - it’s delicious!



By Allson McAlister

There's no better advertising than word-of-mouth. On a recent weekday at lunchtime, the Essex Diner was hopping and most diners were repeat customers. Our waitress informed us that one trio of diners came in every day for lunch, while another two were there every day for both breakfast and lunch. By the end of my first visit, this news came as no surprise. Open since August 2006, the Essex Diner is a favorite eatery of many local residents. “I let my customers do the talking for me,” says owner Greg Haman. “I have good customers. They're very friendly.” They’re also a source of free advertising. Haman's wife Staci adds, “Some customers have been in here every day since we opened.” Following the logic that the customer knows best, I asked the table of diners behind me for their recommendations. They were partial to the Roma Wrap, which is like a Chicken Caesar salad wrapped in a large flour tortilla, and the crab cakes. Of course, I took their advice and tried both. Haman also brought out a slice of lasagna and a Greek wrap for my dining companion and me to try. Let me just say that everything was delicious. I love wraps, and the Roma Wrap was really, really good. It's chicken breast, bacon, romaine lettuce, Parmesan cheese and the house Caesar dressing all wrapped up in a seasoned tortilla. Delicious! The Greek wrap consists of gyro meat, onions, tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms and traditional Tzatziki. I've never had a gyro before, so Haman insisted I try it. I was pleasantly surprised. I didn't think I'd like it, but the wrap was very flavorful. Although, I'd still say the Roma Wrap was my favorite of the two. We also sampled the crab cakes, rumored to be some of the best in town. I'd have to agree. The cakes were loaded with huge hunks of jumbo lump crabmeat, they weren't heavily seasoned and, best of all, not one piece of shell crossed my lips. The lasagna came to our table piping hot. Bursting with ricotta cheese, the pasta dish was quite good, especially the flavorful sauce. What really knocked our socks off was the homemade rice pudding with which we ended our great meal. Served either warm or cold, this delectable dessert was incredibly yummy with just the right amount of cinnamon sprinkled on top. Haman has been in the restaurant business all his life and previously owned restaurants in downtown Baltimore. When the opportunity presented itself with the Essex Diner, Haman says, “I took a chance.” He and Staci are at the diner every day. While Haman was reluctant to name one favorite entrée, Staci shared that hers was the roast pork. She also notes, “The cream of broccoli soup is the bomb.” The most popular seller? Probably the crab cakes, although Staci says the daily specials do good as well. The Essex Diner serves up great food at reasonable prices. The extensive menu features everything from soups, salads and appetizers to burgers, sandwiches and pizza to steaks, seafood and pasta. They also offer a kids menu for children under 10, featuring entrees at just $4.95, including a drink and a scoop of ice cream. And every Monday night is Kid's Night, featuring different fun things every week, where children 12 and under eat for $1.99 with a paying adult. Located at 15 Eastern Boulevard, the diner is open every day from 6 a.m. - 10 p.m., except on Sundays when the diner opens at 7 a.m., serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast is available all day. For more information, call 410-238-1400.


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