‘Seinfeld’: Is the Iconic Diner, Monk’s Café, Real?

One of the most beloved sitcoms in television history is Seinfeldcreated by the show’s titular character Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David. The show aired 180 episodes as it ran from 1989 to 1998 on NBC, and can still be seen daily during reruns on channels across the world.

The entirety of the sitcom was also recently put on the streaming service Hulu, allowing fans to binge and rewatch their favorite moments and episodes. The show and its syndicated reruns have helped the real Seinfeld amass a massive net worth, and helped the celebrity become one of the most well-known comedians of all-time. 

Seinfeld is set in the Big Apple, New York City, but was mainly shot in LA. While the show’s setting and shooting location are on different coasts, there is a real New York City location that has become synonymous with the show. One such location is Monk’s Café. Is it real? Yes and no.

What is ‘Seinfeld’ about? 

'Seinfeld'
‘Seinfeld’ | George Lange/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

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Based on the life of the popular comedian, Seinfeld follows Jerry and his eclectic group of New York friends, family, and enemies. Besides Seinfeld, the main characters on the show include Elaine Benes (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), George Costanza (Jason Alexander), and Cosmo Kramer (Michael Richards), as well as a variety of series regulars and guest stars.

The show about nothing hilariously shows the beloved characters as they live life their slightly abnormal normal lives. Seinfeld is known for its contributions to popular culture and lingo, including phrases and traditions like yada-yada-yada, Festivus, and double-dipper.

The sitcom also frequently focuses on one of the most relatable parts of the human experience, food. There are even many Seinfeld episodes that are food titled including The Mango, The Big Salad, The Junior Mint, The Non-Fat Yogurt, The Calzone, and a surprisingly long list of others.

Non-food titled episodes that are still center around eating and food examine topics like Kramer lathering himself in butter like a turkey, the impossibility of not drinking coffee every day, and the episode including one of the most iconic characters in the show’s history the Soup Nazi Yev Kassem (Larry Thomas). Another food-based piece of Seinfeld is the diner that Jerry and the gang meet up to eat in nearly every episode. 

What is Monk’s Café in the show? 

One of the most popular settings in Seinfeld is the booths of Monk’s Café. Jerry and his gang are often shown eating in the restaurant, discussing their wacky lives, and sharing stories.

The cashier of Monk’s is Ruth Cohen, who was played by an actress of the same name. Interestingly, Ruth has appeared in the more episodes of the show than anyone else besides the main four characters of Jerry, Elaine, George, and Kramer.

The diner’s waitress appeared in 101 of 180 episodes, and most of the appearances were in a non-speaking role. Monk’s is not the only restaurant that is important to the show, as Jerry and his friends are also seen eating at a cafe, a Chinese restaurant, and the infamous soup shop. 

Is Tom’s Diner a real restaurant? 

Monk’s Café is fictional but the exterior is a real location in New York City: Tom’s Diner. It is near the Columbia University campus, making it a popular spot for hungry college students.

According to the restaurant’s website, the diner offers classic American foods such as burgers, steaks, and milkshakes. While the exterior used in Seinfeld is real, the interior of the restaurant on the show is a set in LA.

The actual Tom’s Diner is also the inspiration for the 1987 song “Tom’s Diner,” by Suzanne Vega. The restaurant is still in operation today, which means that Seinfeld super fans can snap a picture outside, or feel like Jerry, Elaine, George, and Kramer by grabbing a bit to eat inside.