There’s a time and a place for fine dining, but there’s nothing quite like washing down a grilled-cheese sandwich with a chocolate malt at a retro greasy spoon. Here, the 20 best diners across the 50 states.
The 20 Best Diners in America
Greasy spoons, for the win
1. Fremont Diner; Sonoma, Ca
You might be tempted to pass by this unassuming shack on your drive from Sonoma to Napa Valley…but don’t. Instead, grab a table on the outdoor patio and order anything containing fried chicken. The tangy, homemade pickles are a much-welcome addition.
2698 Fremont Dr., Sonoma; 707-938-7370 or thefremontdiner.com
2. Florida Avenue Grill; Washington, D.c.
Called the oldest soul food restaurant in Washington, this Southern cookin’, U Street spot attracts everyone from politicians to college students for its hot cakes, grits and biscuits.
1100 Florida Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.; 202-265-1586 or floridaavenuegrill.com
4. Little Goat; Chicago
This Chi-town favorite is a classic diner with a modern twist, serving creative interpretations of classic comfort foods. We’re talking kimchi, bacon-and-eggs scallion pancakes and Fat Elvis waffles topped with peanut butter, banana and bacon maple syrup.
820 W Randolph St., Chicago; 312-888-3455 or littlegoatchicago.com
5. A1 Diner; Gardiner, Me
A1 Diner--an original Worcester Lunch Car--hasn’t changed much in 60 years. Walking into the chrome enclosure and sitting at one of the mahogany booths is like stepping back in time. Make sure to order a side of the famous potato hash.
3 Bridge St., Gardiner; 207-582-4804 or facebook
7. Mickey's Diner; St. Paul, Mn
This Art-Deco landmark in St. Paul has been run by the same family for three generations. Stop by for breakfast 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and order a “One Eyed Jack”--an egg-in-a-hole meets a grilled-ham-and-cheese sandwich.
36 Seventh St. W, St. Paul; 651-698-0259 or mickeysdiningcar.com
8. Town Topic Hamburgers; Kansas City, Mo
This Kansas City staple has been serving its famous griddled, steamed hamburgers since it opened its doors in 1937. Sure, it puts the “greasy” in greasy spoon, but in the very best way.
2021 Broadway St., Kansas City; 816-842-2298 or towntopic.com
10. Harry's Coffee Shop; La Jolla, Ca
In 1959, Brooklyn native Harry Rudolph moved to California and opened this blue-collar joint, known for its straightforward all-day breakfast menu. If you’ve never had eggs Benedict on a waffle, now’s your chance.
7545 Girard Ave., La Jolla; 858-454-7381 or harryscoffeeshop.com
11. Tom's Restaurant; Brooklyn
Tom’s original Prospect Heights location is certainly one Brooklyn’s most beloved breakfast spots. The weekend lines can be rough, but free coffee and the promise of blueberry ricotta pancakes makes it all worthwhile.
782 Washington Ave., Brooklyn; 718-636-9738 or yelp
13. Modern Diner; Pawtucket, Ri
Three words: custard French toast. That’s the dish to order at this Ocean State diner, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The thick-cut French toast layered with a custard-like vanilla pudding, fresh fruit and raspberry syrup puts Modern Diner on the map.
364 East Ave., Pawtucket; 401-726-8390 or themoderndinerri.com
14. 24 Diner; Austin
Not your run-of-the-mill breakfast spot, this Austin eatery serves what it calls “chef-inspired comfort food.” Order up a sourdough, cheddar, Havarti and roasted tomato grilled cheese or fried chicken and waffle at any hour of the day.
600 N. Lamar Blvd., Austin; 512-472-5400 or 24diner.com
15. Ruth's Diner; Salt Lake City
This Salt Lake City tradition has been around for nearly 90 years, making it Utah’s second oldest restaurant. It’s one of few diners that can boast canyon views, but the real reason to visit is for the fluffy “Mile High Biscuits.”
16. The Blue Benn; Bennington, Vt
Step into this old dining car and find a long lunch counter, booths and jukeboxes that’ll play your favorite old-time songs for 25 cents. Three generously sized blueberry pancakes will cost you only about $5 at this cash-only establishment.
318 North St., Bennington or 802-442-5140 or yelp
17. Big Al's Diner; Cleveland
Huge, cheap breakfast plates are the specialty at this no-frills Cleveland spot. Big Al’s corn beef hash, made with thick, chunky potatoes and green peppers, got a shout-out on Food Network’s The Best Thing I Ever Ate, but locals rave about the eggs Benedict.
12600 Larchmere Blvd., Cleveland; 216-791-8550 or yelp
18. Skillet Diner; Seattle
Serving American comfort food from an Airstream trailer, Skillet has become a local favorite in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. Think: creative twists on classic diner favorites like the “Ultimate Grilled Cheese,” served with bacon jam and a fried chicken thigh.
2034 NW 56th St., Seattle; (206) 922-7981 or skilletfood.com
19. Rick's White Light Diner; Frankfort, Ky
This divey hot spot serves Cajun-style dishes like oyster po’ boys and crawfish étouffée in a lively setting. With a handful of tables and half a dozen counter stools, it draws a serious lunch hour line.
114 Bridge St., Frankfort; 502-696-9104 or whitelightdiner.com
20. Historic Village Diner; Red Hook, Ny
There’s always a crowd at this 1920s-style, Hudson Valley diner. On weekend mornings, the booths are packed with road-trippers and locals fueling up on eggs and homemade muffins.
7550 N. Broadway, Red Hook; 845-758-6232 or historic-village-diner.com