The Best Diner in Every State
Fine dining is great and fast food is fine, but sometimes all you crave is good old-fashioned diner fare. Find our picks for the best mom-and-pop stops from coast to coast.
Bob’s Downtown Diner, Mobile
Located at “the corner of fat and happy,” you know Bob’s Downtown Diner is the spot for Southern comfort food. Its doors open at 7 a.m. every day and it’s rated one of the city’s best spots for brunch, which you can enjoy on a picnic table outside.
Want more diner classics? Check these out.
City Diner, Anchorage
This 1950s-style diner serves breakfast all day and their soda fountain menu offers classics like the “black cow” (aka rootbeer float). Plus, you can find some of City Diner’s favorite recipes on their website so you can recreate the eats at home.
Welcome Diner, Tucson
Located in a mid-century building with tons of character, the Welcome Diner boasts an outdoor patio and plenty of veggie and vegan options for customers to choose from. Its signature dish, the Big Jim, is a biscuit with fried chicken, sausage gravy, cheddar and bacon. Sign us up!
Rolling Pin Cafe, Fayetteville
At this Arkansas eatery, order their namesake dish, The Rolling Pin. It’s an open-faced biscuit topped with an egg over easy, cheese, breakfast meat (sausage, bacon or ham) and your choice of gravy. Tip: You might want to consider swapping your usual sausage gravy for their homemade chocolate gravy.
Breakfast Club Diner, Oceanside
This ’80s-themed diner in Oceanside is known especially for its light and fluffy flapjacks which are a family recipe. Try the original buttermilk or indulge in a stack stuffed stuffed with sweet cheese blintz cream. Bonus: The Breakfast Club Diner is dog-friendly so you can bring Fido, too.
Sam’s No. 3, three locations
Now with three locations, Sam’s No. 3 is known for its breakfast burritos, stuffed with hash browns, scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese and their famous Kickin’ Pork Green Chili. With over 100 delicious items on their menu, the diner wasn’t voted “Best in Denver” for nothing!
Elm Street Diner, Stamford
You can’t go to a diner without ordering a milkshake… and the over-the-top ones at Elm Street Diner definitely don’t disappoint. While there are plenty to choose from (including basic vanilla), don’t miss the cake and donut shake which is topped with, you guessed it, a slice of cake and a donut.
Hollywood Grill, Wilmington
The name says it all: Everyone, including former president Bill Clinton, enjoys a meal at the Hollywood Grill. We love it for the extensive eggs Benedict selection where you can order the traditional or mix it up with fancier toppings like jumbo crabmeat, smoked salmon and even filet mignon.
Peter Pan Diner, Ft. Lauderdale
Family owned since 1979 and open 24 hours a day, the Peter Pan Diner is a local favorite. The menu is massive but its known for its authentic (and delicious) Greek fare so try the chicken souvlaki or a classic Gyro sandwich (their tzatziki sauce is homemade!).
Marietta Diner, Marietta
This Georgia must-visit was named one of Buzzfeed’s “21 American Diners You Should Eat At Before You Die,” and for good reason. Not only is the atmosphere at Marietta Diner everything you want in a diner (cozy and eclectic, complete with neon signs), the cakes are incredible. So save room for dessert!
Liliha Bakery, Honolulu
Don’t be thrown off by the word “bakery” in the name of this Honolulu hot spot. Liliha Bakery does make delicious cakes, pastries and their famous coco puffs, but they also have an attached dining section. Its menu contains classic diner fare along with traditional Hawaiian dishes like miso butterfish and oxtail soup.
Auggie’s Drivin Diner, Oldtown
Is it a food truck or a diner? The correct answer is both—Auggie’s Drivin Diner is a neon school bus that has been repurposed into a restaurant complete with booths and stools. Your go-to order here should be one of their mile-high burgers or unusual hot dogs.
Charlie Parker’s Diner, Springfield
When you stop at this establishment, you have to dig into the dish that earned Charlie Parker’s Diner the title of Grand Champion in the Thomas’ Hometown Breakfast Battle: the horseshoe. It’s essentially an open-faced burger topped with scrambled eggs, cheese sauce and Tater Tots.
Edward’s Drive-In, Indianapolis
One of the Midwest’s best food traditions is the Hoosier breaded pork tenderloin sandwich. Which you can find at Edward’s Drive-In, a ’50s-esque diner in the heart of the city. Order yours with a side of hand-dipped onion rings and a glass of cold house-made root beer.
Bluebird Diner, Iowa City
If you’re looking for “Midwest soul food,” you’ll find it at the Bluebird Diner. Known for their breakfast spread, they take classic staples up a notch with dishes like cinnamon roll French toast, homemade buttermilk pancakes with grilled bananas and chili verde with smoked pork over Parmesan polenta.
Jimmie’s Diner, Wichita
You’ll feel like you stepped back in time with a trip to Jimmie’s Diner where there’s an old-fashioned soda fountain and the waitresses even wear poodle skirts. Some of the favorite sides on the menu include fried corn meal mush and apples with bacon.
Ramsey’s Diner, Lexington
At this Lexington legend, you might want to order off its infamous “meat and three” menu, where you choose one country style entree plus three side veggies. Another favorite at Ramsey’s Diner is the traditional hot brown, an open-faced sandwich topped with sliced turkey and Mornay cheese sauce.
Belle’s Diner, New Orleans
Named one of the “Cutest Diners in America” by Cosmopolitan, Belle’s Diner pays homage to the Bomber Girls of the ’50s. Order their famous buttermilk fried chicken on top of a bacon stuffed waffle. Then pair it with a “Belle’s Boozy,” one of the diner’s alcoholic milkshakes.
Love chicken and waffles? Why not try some new waffle toppings?
Becky’s Diner, Portland
Housed in a waterfront cottage, Becky’s Diner serves breakfast all day. Be prepared to eat a lot, too, because the dishes are hearty to say the least—the popular “Hobson’s Wharf Special” comes with your choice of meat, two pancakes, two eggs, home fries and toast.
Papermoon Diner, Baltimore
Eclectic and eccentric—both describe the Papermoon Diner where the walls are covered in bright art and childhood toys and its menu is described as “comfort food meets Baltimore with a twist.” Be brave and order the bacon milkshake or bananas foster French toast. You won’t regret it.
Agawam Diner, Rowley
Come for the atmosphere (the Agawam Diner is located inside of an old diner train car), stay for the pies. From apple to banana cream to lemon meringue (and even a delicious chicken potpie), the homemade pies here can’t be missed. P.S. The diner is on the National Register of Historical Places, too!
Don’t have time to stop? Try these pies at home.
Fleetwood Diner, two locations
If there’s one thing you have to order at the Fleetwood Diner (there are locations in Lansing and Ann Arbor), it’s their famous Hippie Hash, aka a pile of homemade hash browns topped with grilled tomato, green pepper, onion, mushrooms and broccoli. Oh, and feta cheese. Hungry yet?
Mickey’s Diner, St. Paul
Another diner listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Mickey’s has been open for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for over 70 years. It’s known for its all-day and all-night breakfasts (especially the fluffy omelettes and giant pancakes) along with its old-fashioned milkshakes.
Ajax Diner, Oxford
Holding many local titles including “best downhome soul food” and “best cornbread,” the Ajax Diner is loved by celebs like John Grisham and Eli Manning. Stick to the Southern classics on the menu—the jumbo po-boys, fried pickles and southern fried catfish won’t disappoint.
Wonder how the folks at Ajax do it right? Check out these Southern cooking tips.
Crown Candy Kitchen, St. Louis
While this local attraction is known for its world-renowned desserts and homemade candy, Crown Candy Kitchen also a great place to grab a bite to eat. Brave souls can order the “Heart-Stopping BLT” which has about 14 (!!!) slices of bacon sandwiched between white toast and a thick layer of Miracle Whip.
Roadhouse Diner, Great Falls
Known around town as “the log cabin restaurant,” the Roadhouse Diner prides itself on serving the freshest burgers around. They grind their own meat and use locally sourced rolls. And, every two weeks, the chef comes up with a new burger creation like the recent muffaletta burger.
Lisa’s Radial Cafe, Omaha
Go big or go home should be your motto when you visit Lisa’s Radial Cafe. The aptly-named “The Titanic,” one of the more popular orders, is a bed of hash browns topped with two eggs, chicken fried steak and biscuits. And, of course, covered in sausage gravy.
Little Nugget Diner, Reno
Open 24 hours a day inside of The Nugget Casino, the Little Nugget Diner is home to the “Awful Awful.” But it isn’t as awful as it sounds—in fact, it’s a deliciously juicy stack of two quarter pound beef patties topped with a special sauce and American cheese.
Red Arrow Diner, four locations
A diner that serves over 500,000 breakfasts a year has to be good at what it does. While you’re at the Red Arrow Diner (they have four locations in New Hampshire), you have to try their Dinah Fingers which are their version of homemade Twinkies.
Tops Diner, Harrison
New Jersey is home of the diner so there are a lot of great options. But Tops takes the cake with its menu that’s as extensive as it is creative. One of our “top” picks? The Fatty Melt, which is a burger (with bacon) between two grilled cheese sandwiches.
66 Diner, Albuquerque
Located on the side of Route 66, this retro restaurant is as “diner” as it gets, from its juke box to its Pez collection. There’s no lack of Southwestern fare at 66 Diner, either—dig into the “Pile Up,” pan fried potatoes topped with bacon, green chiles, eggs, cheddar cheese and chile sauce.
Stella’s Diner, Syracuse
NYC has its share of greasy spoons, but travel upstate to Stella’s Diner for a breakfast worth its weight (literally!). Started by three sisters, the Betty Boop-themed restaurant offers oversized portions at an affordable price. Choose from one of the 15 omelette options and your stomach will thank you.
Smith Street Diner, Greensboro
Boasting the “biggest biscuit in the ‘boro,” Smith Street Diner also claims to be the only restaurant in town serving fried bologna as part of its all-day breakfast. Want to enjoy dinner here? Don’t miss out on Fried Chicken Thursdays where you get a half chicken and all the fixings.
Kroll’s Diner, five locations
Kroll’s tagline says it all: “Sit down and eat!” This ’50s diner serves primarily German and American fare—order a bowl of their award-winning knoephla soup (a creamy, dumpling style soup) or sauerkraut fleischkuechcle (a savory fried pastry) for a meal to remember.
Big Al’s Diner, Cleveland
Food Network chef Michael Symon has dubbed the corned beef at Big Al’s the best he’s ever had. Of all the stick-to-your-ribs comfort food on the menu (and there’s a lot!), according to the general manager, the crowd favorite is the liver and onions.
Tally’s Cafe, Tulsa
Voted Tulsa’s Best Cinnamon Rolls and Best Chicken Fry Sandwich in Oklahoma by USA Today, Tally’s Cafe knows how to do every meal from breakfast to dinner right. You might try “Tally’s Favorite,” too—a Belgian waffle served with whipped cream and a side of two fried chicken tenders and two eggs.
The Roxy Diner, Portland
Perfect for those with a sense of humor, the Roxy claims to be “keeping Portland weird!” When you look at the menu, you’ll see funny food like Eggs Over Sleazy, Lord of the Fries and “Too Snobby to Even Look at You” French Toast.
Pamela’s P&G Diner, Pittsburgh
Bottomless cups of coffee paired with light crepe-style pancakes makes Pamela’s a hidden gem. Definitely order breakfast here—you can get your hotcakes stuffed with anything from thick-sliced bacon to bananas, chocolate chips and whipped cream or try the croissant French toast smothered in caramel sauce.
Modern Diner, Pawtucket
The first diner to be accepted on the National Register of Historic Places, Modern Diner puts an elevated twist on some of your favorite diner dishes. You might try one of the specials tacked on the wall like the linguica (Portugese sausage) Benedict, lobster cheese grits or Canadian bacon apple brie omelette.
Early Bird Diner, Charleston
Any place that has all you can eat pancakes every Friday is a win in our book. Which is exactly what the Early Bird Diner offers along with a spin on chicken and waffles (think: pecan-crusted chicken with a slightly sweet cinnamon waffle).
Phillips Avenue Diner, Sioux Falls
No visit to downtown Sioux Falls is complete without a stop at Phillips Avenue Diner, a nostalgic restaurant serving hearty American platters. Fans of breakfast for dinner will love their “a.m. in the p.m.” section and don’t miss the French toast ham and cheese sandwich.
Arnold’s Country Kitchen, Nashville
It doesn’t get much more mom-and-pop than Arnold’s, where diners receive their food cafeteria-style. The uber casual atmosphere and buffet trays of roast beef and mashed potatoes are still top quality, though—the restaurant received a highly coveted James Beard award a few years ago.
Lulu’s Bakery and Cafe, San Antonio
Lulu’s believes that everything really is bigger in Texas. And not just the “Texas-sized” portions of breakfast and lunch they’re serving up. But also their cinnamon rolls which weigh in at a whopping three pounds. They’re worth every bite but make sure you bring friends or family to share!
Ruth’s Diner, Salt Lake City
The second oldest restaurant in Utah, Ruth’s Diner is a Salt Lake City staple. Order some of Ruth’s famous mile high biscuits with country gravy (one of their signature sides), then enjoy your super-sized meal on the outside patio with a gorgeous mountain and river view.
Chelsea Royal Diner, West Brattleboro
Get your maple fix at the Chelsea Royal Diner, located at the foot of the Green Mountains. Serving blue plate specials and breakfast all day (complete with real maple syrup, of course), their trademark is the Cajun breakfast skillet: sausage with grilled onions, peppers, potatoes, two eggs over easy and melted cheese.
Galaxy Diner, Richmond
This restaurant is out of this world. Decorated with stars and rockets, the space-themed Galaxy Diner offers cosmic creations like black hole pancakes (they have an Oreo in the center), space juice (aka Tang) and local favorite: trailer park pancakes (peanut butter and banana stuffed French toast).
The 5-Point Cafe, Seattle
Stop in The 5-Point Cafe from 6 to 9 a.m. for breakfast happy hour complete with mimosas (or a man-mosa with a shot of vodka) and bloody Marys. As for food, you can order Seattle’s biggest chicken-fried steak (it weighs 11 ounces!) or “The Mess,” a pile of hash brown goodness.
Mountain View Diner, Charles Town
If you find yourself in Charles Town, grab a bite to eat at the retro Mountain View Diner. While their extensive breakfast has been voted “best of the best,” their desserts, made at their in-house bakery, are a must-order. So save room for a slice of Black Forest cake or apple pie.
Frank’s Diner, Kenosha
“Order what you want, eat what you get” is the motto of Frank’s Diner. Run out of a historic lunch car, the award-winning establishment’s best-selling dish is “Franks Garbage Plate,” a build-your-own breakfast creation where you start with three or five eggs, then add meat and all the toppings.
Johnny J’s Diner, Casper
If the heaping plates of meat loaf and smothered sirloin don’t fill you at Johnny J’s, the old-fashioned soda fountain sure will. Satisfy your sweet tooth with a seat at the ’50s style counter while you enjoy hand-dipped ice cream sundaes, milkshakes and authentic malts.