Icons come and go, but one that has endured and rightly so: Lester’s Diner just east of 441 on Coconut Creek Blvd. In somewhat of a time warp, this unassuming diner brings back a time when simple was so, satisfying.
Sometimes I don’t need fancy schmancy. I just wanna eat. I don’t want food piled with exotic ingredients, on a web of demi-glazes or adorned in any way. I just crave what I feel like eating so I can go on with my night or day.
Those times, I harken back to great diner food. Almost any time of day or night, you could choose from literally hundreds of menu items and EVERYTHING was fresh and great. You could get pancakes at eight PM, or a hamburger with your morning juice if you felt like it. Homemade chicken pot pie, stuffed cabbage and stuffed peppers so good you’d swear your grandma was chef-ing. Huge omelettes, a BLT or crisp salads with homemade dressing. Steaks, chops, seafood and Italian specialties. And if you were lucky enough to be in a GREEK diner, Greek specialties that were so good, you’d think you were in Mykonos.
Diners gave us whatever we wanted, when we wanted it. The well-prepared food was plentiful, excellent and ready when you were.
And at Lester’s, it still is, and then some.
Really, does anyone do a diner better than a Greek? And in all of Broward County does anyone do “diner” better than Lester’s? Lucky for us, one is on the Margate/ Coconut Creek border, just east of 441. Owned for the past 11 years by adorable brothers, Tommy and George Zentefis, they come by their hospitality and diner diplomacy via the gene pool. Their uncle, Peter Dogagis bought the original Lester’s in 1981, a restaurant that built its legacy literally on thousands of great meals. Who among us HASN’T at least heard of Lester’s with their exceptional coffee, ( home of the 14oz cup), and a menu boasting over 400 items that could double as a mini-encyclopedia? Opened in 1967, Lester’s, now with three family-owned locations (the original in Ft. Lauderdale, our 4701 Coconut Creek Pkwy location, one in Sunrise near the Sawgrass Mall and a fourth on the drawing board), is a veritable institution here. And the only way that happens is because the quality of the food and the unbelievably affordable prices keep loyal customers coming back over and over again.
Especially in these economically-challenged days, you can get people in maybe once or twice, but what you can’t make them do is return, and says the quiet, blue-eyed Tommy, “in recessions and times of prosperity, Lester’s makes people happy, and we’ve always done it with great, simple food and fair prices. ” Judging by the enormous mix of people in this huge venue from power suits, to police-people; government officials and families to retirees all looking for a simple home-cooked meal, he’s right.
I might be biased, Hank and I have been coming here since Dogagis changed it from the original Norris Catfish House to a Lester’s. For one, service is great. Staff have been here 8, 10 even 15+ years and know every dish inside out. You can’t keep staff if you’re not good to your people.
Special dietary concerns, preferences? Just ask. They cook absolutely every morsel here fresh, daily. Nothing is bought prepared. Breakfasts are awesome. The 3-egg Mushroom Omelette ($7.99) is so good. I took half home and ate it the next day. Served with toast or biscuits and jelly and homemade home fries, it’s huge. Most places I move the home fries around, here I gobble every morsel. “We chop potatoes for home fries every day. They’re fresh when ordered,” beamed Tommy. “Even the potato salad, coleslaw and all the salad dressings are made right in the back,” added George who showed me huge chunks of blue cheese in their mouth-watering dressing.” You taste the difference right away. The other thing we appreciate is if anything, the food is under-seasoned. “People can always add salt; they can’t take it out,” added Tommy. “A lot of body-builders come in for more natural and healthy foods, people watching their weight, plus older folks on restricted diets, we accommodate everyone.”
What’s new is they NOW deliver, added a full liquor bar & have a huge board with daily specials. They also cater. We had them cater several CC Chamber luncheons recently. The first, brought over 95 guests RAVING about their Baked Moussaka ($10.99). Emails followed saying it was one of the best luncheons ever! The food was outrageous.
Like fish? Choose from Cod, Scrod, Tilapia, Salmon, Trout, Mahi Mahi and every dinner comes with fresh-baked challah and BUTTER, two veggies or spaghetti, soup or salad. The 12oz Rib Eye ($16.99) is a steal! Chicken, chops, 9 kinds of ½ POUND hamburgers, roast beef platter, turkey with gravy and stuffing ($16.79), 4 homemade soups DAILY (awesome matzo ball!), countless salads (incl. an amazing Cobb ($10) and deli and hot open-faced sandwiches are all wonderful!
They use no trans fat, brown rice instead of white, and have altered their menu to customers’ changing tastes. What they haven’t altered is the time-honored way they did business from the get-go: giving you a great meal for a wildly affordable price. Voted “Best Diner” by New Times and best breakfast, and best this and best that over and over through the years, the Zentefis’ take it all in stride and just continue doing what they were born to do, feed people and make them happy. If you’re looking for frou frou, Lester’s is not for you. But for the rest of us who want down home, consistently good food, simply prepared, Lester’s fits the bill… and then some.
Daily lunch AND dinner specials. 4-pg breakfast menu served ALL day.OMG Desserts! Open 7 days, 6am-midnight. Terrific take-out, Delivery, 2 private rooms & really, really nice people who honestly work very hard to make sure eating a meal here is exactly what you want it to be.