HACKENSACK and JERSEY CITY, NEW JERSEY
We asked, and you delivered. Oh yes, you delivered, you dear, dear greasy-handed readers. Among your tips on finding good sliders was one that led us to tiny diner White Manna in Hackensack, New Jersey, which in turn led us to the similarly named White Mana (one n, mind you) in Jersey City.
And so this reporter worked all day yesterday as visions of tiny hamburgers danced in his head. Sliders were also doing a jig in the head of Honey P., who works with me. This trip was especially important to Honey P. because her friend has been badgering her for years to try White Manna and HP wanted to get it over with to put an end to the nagging. I was looking forward to her company on the trip, but she had to go to some art thing instead. (Hmmph: Warped priorities if I ever seen 'em.)
Well, she missed out, because White Manna in Hackensack was worth all the hassle I endured getting there. The pilgrimage involved the NYC subway and trips on two different commuter trains in Jersey before I met up with one-time Slice Garden State bureau chief Amanda G. and her dad; their help and generosity was greatly appreciated. We drove from the North Hackensack train stop to White Manna, at the intersection of River and Passaic Streets and were greeted by the cutest down-at-the-heels art deco diner I've seen in ages (see photo above).
The burgers start out as small fresh meatballs that the cooks flattenenough but not too muchwith the back of a spatula. They then cover the frying patties with onions and top that with an inverted bun bottom, which is in turn topped with the bun top. The finished burgers are transferred to a paper plate for serving, at which point the cook asks you if you want pickles. If you do, they nestle a handful alongside your sliders for you to distribute among your burgers as you please.
We easily could have called it a day after eating at White Manna, that's how perfect the experience was, but we knew AHT readers wouldn't be satisfied with only half the Man(n)a tale. Though this reporter offered to pay the bill as a thank-you gesture for being driven around the Garden State, Mr. B treated us; AHT is forever in his debt. Amanda and I parted ways with her pops at this point and drove on as a duo to Jersey City.
As Amanda dropped yours truly off at the Hoboken PATH station, I was already planning my next trip to Hackensack. Jersey City, though? I wouldn't be going out of my way for that location any time soon, especially when there's a White Castle only a mile south.
WHITE MANNA (HACKENSACK)
Location: 358 River Street, Hackensack NJ 07601 (at Passaic Street)
Hours: Mon.-Sat., 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Cost: Hamburgers, $0.95; cheeseburgers, $1.05
WHITE MANA (JERSEY CITY)
Location: 470 Tonnele Ave., Jersey City NJ 07307
Cost: Hamburgers, $0.90; cheeseburgers, $0.95
These diners really are a fast-disappearing slice of vintage Americana, and they're quite beautiful in their own quirky way. You really should take a closer look at them. For outtakes of the trip in Adam K.'s Flickr photostream, click here. For Amanda G.'s Flickr photostream on the White Man(n)a excursion, go here.
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