The Most Iconic Diner in Every State
From Alabama to Wyoming, these are the most memorable and delicious greasy spoons in all of the 50 states.
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From 24-hour breakfasts to cozy retro booths, who doesn’t love a good diner? According to customer ratings, TripAdvisor scores and, of course, local reviews, these are the best greasy spoons in every state. Dig in!
Alabama: City Cafe Diner, Huntsville
The first thing you’ll see when you walk into City Cafe Diner is rows and rows of homemade cakes, smothered in fluffy frosting. While you can’t go wrong with any of the decadent dessert options, we recommend the “volcano.” It’s a massive slice with layers of cheesecake, chocolate mousse and brownie all coated in chocolate and slivered almonds.
Alaska: Kriner’s Diner, Anchorage
No, your server didn’t just hand you the New York Times—it’s actually the Kriner’s Diner menu, printed to look like a local newspaper. On it, you’ll find Andy’s Awesome Burger (named after the owner himself) which is loaded with bacon, spicy Jalapeno cheese, BBQ sauce, and fried onion strings. Andy claims it’s his “best invention to date.” Before you pack up for Alaska, make sure you follow this ultimate travel checklist.
Arizona: Mel’s Diner, Phoenix
Not only was it the setting of the TV sitcom Alice, but Mel’s Diner is also the establishment that coined the phrase, “Kiss my grits!” So naturally, going for breakfast (the most important meal of the day) is key. You’ll leave with a belly full of syrup-covered pancakes, massive omelets, and their beloved home fries. This phrase is one of the 27 secret phrases you would only hear at a 1950s diner.
Arkansas: At The Corner, Little Rock
This self-proclaimed modern diner uses all locally-sourced, fresh ingredients for their small—but diverse—breakfast and lunch menus. Sitting in ’50s-style red and white booths, patrons rave about the mason jar mimosas and chicken and waffles in particular. Plus, with the convenient self-serve coffee station, you’ll never have to wait on a refill of joe.
California: Peggy Sue’s 50’s Diner, Yermo
Out in the middle of the blazing hot desert, Peggy Sue’s is an explosion of rainbow pastels and ’50s memorabilia. After filling up with the Buddy Holly Bacon Cheeseburger and crispy curly fries, head out back to stroll through the “dinersaur” park featuring giant metal dinosaurs scattered among ponds, fountains, and bridges.
Colorado: Moonlight Diner, Denver
The shiny chrome exterior of this boxcar-turned-diner is the first sign you’ve come to the right place for greasy comfort food. While the burgers always get rave reviews, you have to order the location-appropriate Denver omelet stuffed with green peppers, onions, tomatoes, diced ham, and cheese. Find out the surprising birthplaces of your favorite foods.
Connecticut: O’Rourke’s Diner, Middletown
All lads and lasses are welcome at this Irish-influenced eatery. Famous across Connecticut for their breakfasts (the line on Saturday morning often goes out the door), they offer everything from the Dubliner omelet filled with corned beef, fingerling potatoes, and cheddar cheese to “Leprechaun Bites,” an assortment of pastries and baked goods including fresh Irish soda bread. Don’t miss the 22 most haunted cities in America.
Delaware: Lucky’s Coffee Shop, Wilmington
Did you know that Delaware is unofficially known as the Scrapple Capital of the World? If you’ve never tried the savory breakfast meat made from pork meat and cornmeal (locals eat it with a squirt of ketchup on top), head to Lucky’s for pancakes with a side of sizzling Scrapple. Bring the kids: They can order the “I Don’t Care” (chicken tenders) or the “I Want to Go Home” (grilled cheese).
Florida: Peter Pan Diner, Fort Lauderdale
This Florida diner—a favorite late-night hangout of famous bassist Jaco Pastorius—is a lot like its namesake, Peter Pan, in that it will never grow up. Step inside and you’ll be transported back to the ’70s with kitschy decor and of course, a working jukebox. Everyone loves the Greek dishes, especially the chicken gyro with homemade tzatziki sauce.
Georgia: Homegrown GA Restaurant, Atlanta
One Comfy Chicken Biscuit, please. Because the crispy fried chicken sandwiched between a homemade buttermilk biscuit and smothered in gravy is the definition of Southern comfort food (it’s rumored to be one of the best things to eat in all of Georgia). In owner Kevin Clark’s words: “It feels like you’re at your grandmother’s house.” Check out this guide to the best American comfort food in all 50 states.
Hawaii: Rainbow Drive-In, Honolulu
Known by locals as Rainbow’s, this adorable drive-in has been serving up traditional Hawaiian fare for over 50 years. Treat your taste buds to island eats with the loco moco (a burger patty atop white rice with a fried egg and brown gravy), spicy chili or their “mix plate” which includes juicy boneless chicken, barbecue beef and the catch of the day.
Idaho: Jimmy’s Down the Street, Coeur d’Alene
What began as a small soda shop has now grown into one of the best breakfasts in the Gem State. Having been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, the real stars of the show (or rather, the menu) at Jimmy’s are the smothered chicken and dumplings and the monstrous caramel pecan roll.
Illinois: Charlie Parker’s Diner, Springfield
Free pancakes? You can get ’em at Charlie Parker’s… but only if you finish the whole stack and trust us, they’re about the size of your average pizza. If you aren’t up for a major carb coma, ask for the Horseshoe, an Illinois specialty consisting of an English muffin covered in hash browns, bacon, sausage gravy, and cheese sauce.
Indiana: Edward’s Drive-In, Indianapolis
Every state has a dish they’re known for—and in Indiana, it’s the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich. The biggest (and best) Hoosier tenderloins can be found at Edward’s where they once made a 150-pound sandwich for the Indy 500. Pair yours with a side of greasy hand-dipped onion rings and a frosty homemade root beer. Ahhh.
Iowa: Bluebird Diner, Iowa City
Meet the spot making what they call “Midwest soul food” a very real—and delicious—thing. Made with locally-sourced ingredients, the menu is classic country cooking with an unexpected twist. Favorites include Huevos Epsteinos (smoked pork, eggs, and chili verde served over Parmesan polenta) or the Krakatoa omelet stuffed with bacon, jalapenos, pepper jack cheese, and cilantro-lime cream cheese. Check out the 50 hidden gems in every state.
Kansas: Jimmie’s Diner, Wichita
Poodle skirts and ponytails are the uniforms at Jimmie’s Diner, so you’ll feel like you’ve flashed back to the ’50s. With service that’s as fast as it is friendly, you can sip some bubbly from the old-fashioned soda fountain or dig into a pile of pancakes from their all-day breakfast menu.
Kentucky: Parkette Drive-In, Lexington
This Lexington must-visit may be a drive-in but you can sit at the counter inside on a retro swivel stool, too. It’s home to what town residents call the real Kentucky fried chicken (golden brown, crispy, and glistening with the grease) along with the popular “Poor Boy” sandwich, two beef burgers covered in American cheese, pickles, onions, tomatoes and Parkette’s secret sauce.
Louisiana: The Old Coffeepot Restaurant, New Orleans
Since opening its doors back in 1894, this French Quarter eatery offers more than an upbeat “let the good times roll” atmosphere and some of the best shrimp and grits you’ll ever have. It’s also the place to go if you’re craving authentic Creole cooking—try a steaming bowl of spicy seafood gumbo or their world famous Calas Cakes which are deep-fried balls of rice coated in powdered sugar. Be sure you know these recipes just like grandma used to make.
Maine: Becky’s Diner, Portland
Rub elbows with off-duty fisherman at this waterfront diner, located in a quaint New England cottage. When the weather’s nice, take your Maine lobster roll out to the patio and watch the catch of the day come into the docks as you dip your fresh seafood sandwich into melted butter and sip a homemade milkshake.
Maryland: Double T Diner, White Marsh
Two things you should expect when you eat at one of Double T’s nine locations in Maryland: Your waitress will definitely call you “hon” at some point (it’s a Baltimore thing) and you’ll have trouble choosing from the 100+ items on the menu from Greek specialties to all-day breakfast. It’s a hangout spot for the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens, too, so you could get an autograph or two with your hash browns.
Massachusetts: The Breakfast Club, Allston
Based on one of the most classic ’80s flicks, The Breakfast Club is a haven of nostalgia with movie posters tacked to the wall and menu items named after the movie’s characters. Get there early (they’re only open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and dive into one of the “Library Specials” like the Basket Case which comes with two eggs, home fries, toast, meat, and two thick pancakes.
Michigan: Fleetwood Diner, Ann Arbor
Breakfast for dinner is always a good idea. And having it at Fleetwood Diner is an even better one. While all of their breakfast eats (from hearty omelets to raisin swirl French toast dripping in syrup) get 5 stars, they’re really known for “Hippie Hash” aka what locals call the ultimate hangover cure. It’s a pile of hash browns topped with tons of grilled veggies and feta cheese.
Minnesota: Mickey’s Diner, St. Paul
“It’s like walking back into the 50s. Nothing has changed. Everything is original.” That’s what the cook at Mickey’s Diner told the local CBS news station. The red and yellow railcar look-alike was featured in the Mighty Ducks movies and has been proudly serving blue plate breakfast fare 24 hours a day, seven days a week since 1939. You’ll probably never look at a diner the same way once you know the real reason why diners look like train cars.
Mississippi: Ajax Diner, Oxford
Bring on the sweet tea and buttermilk cornbread. After all, Ajax has received “Best Cornbread” honors, along with a lot of other awards—and it’s one of NFL quarterback Eli Manning’s go-to haunts. For extra spicy Southern soul food, ask for the Hot Tamale Pie, a bowl of cheesy (and fiery) grits and pork drizzled with a Creole mustard vinaigrette.
Missouri: Courtesy Diner, St. Louis
The Courtesy Diner may no longer be a national chain of sandwich shops (it’s now just three locations in Missouri), but this down-home diner still has a major claim to fame. The one specialty every visitor has to take a bite of is the St. Louis Slinger—it’s a burger patty and two eggs sitting atop a bed of hash browns, smothered in chili and cheese. Find out the one food you have to try in every state.
Montana: Roadhouse Diner, Great Falls
Who knew some of the best burgers in the Midwest would be found in a log cabin in middle-of-nowhere Montana? At Roadhouse Diner, they grind and grill their beef patties fresh every single day—and then top them with unique add-ons like peanut butter, Serrano peppers and, yes, even Pop Rocks. And you’ll definitely want to get the crispy house-made fries with that. Check out 7 ways to grill your own juicy burgers and steaks.
Nebraska: Shirley’s Diner, Omaha
Come for the retro vibes and quintessential diner grub (like the hot meatloaf sandwich), but stay for the stories of the woman behind it all. Owner Denise Fackler is a bit of an Omaha legend and for good reason—she explained to Omaha Magazine that before opening the diner with her husband, she had a long career as a singer-songwriter where she once did a duet with John Denver and even toured Vietnam with the USO.
Nevada: Du-Par’s, Las Vegas
What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Which means you can (and should) totally cheat on your diet with a hefty stack of Du-Par’s famous fluffy pancakes, served with a thick pat of real butter and maple syrup. Located in the Suncoast Hotel and Casino on the Strip, the 24-hour joint also boasts Las Vegas’ “first” shrimp cocktail. Eat up!
New Hampshire: Red Arrow Diner, Manchester
Plenty of politicians have bellied up to the counter at Red Arrow Diner in Manchester along the campaign trail. Pop in for a hot cup of coffee and a couple of Dinah Fingers (the restaurant’s version of a homemade Twinkie). On your way out, if you’re a new customer, you’ll even get a ring of the bell and a souvenir sticker.
New Jersey: Top’s Diner, East Newark
It’s hard to pick a favorite in what’s known as the Diner Capital of the World. But when a place has been called the best diner in the entire country, well, we’re listening. Or rather, eating. We’ll take a Fatty Melt which is exactly what it sounds like: A burger between TWO grilled cheese sandwiches. The seafood section is a sure winner, too, as the diner uses fresh fish, clams and more. Check out the most charming small town in each state.
New Mexico: 66 Diner, Albuquerque
On the side of Route 66 lies a blast from the past, illuminated by rainbow neon signs. Pull over to check out the old Plymouth cars, order one of 66Diner‘s gut-busting Blue Plate Specials or, better yet, step up to the counter for an over-the-top milkshake. Their original Pink Cadillac flavor (strawberry ice cream and Oreo cookies) is a must. If you prefer a classic scoop of ice cream check out the best ice cream shops in every state.
New York: Ellen’s Stardust Diner, New York
How can you be surrounded by singing servers and strands of confetti and not be happy? But the joyful atmosphere of Ellen’s in the Big Apple isn’t the only perk—the Broadway landmark also offers an extensive list of drool-worthy dishes. Of course, they’re all aptly named like Mama Mia Meatloaf, Love Me Tenders and Joseph and the Technicolor Bagel.
North Carolina: Midnight Diner, Charlotte
When you think of comfort food, you think of the South. And if you live in North Carolina, you think of Midnight Diner. Take a trip back in time with the checkerboard floors and red vinyl booths while you nosh on their legendary fried chicken and waffles and big buttermilk biscuits dipped in sausage gravy. North Carolina is also famous for their vinegar-based BBQ. Try one of these best BBQ restaurants in every state.
North Dakota: Kroll’s Diner, Fargo
Forget the Greek goodies—at Kroll’s, it’s all about traditional German cooking (mixed in with the American classics, of course). Call up your friends and tuck into a bowl of their award-winning knoephla soup, a creamy concoction dotted with doughy dumplings. You won’t wait long, either—with a motto of “sit down and eat!” you can expect speedy service.
Ohio: Fred’s Diner, Akron
Any place that considers a “side” of bacon as seven meaty slices is a win in our book. That’s Fred’s for you, where the food is delicious (call ahead for Fred’s Famous Chicken Dumpling Soup) and the walls are covered in local history. Bonus: Nothing on the menu costs more than eight dollars. But don’t expect anything fancy—it’s definitely a no-frills kind of place. Here are the 9 best-kept secret American travel spots.
Oklahoma: Sid’s Diner, El Reno
One thing you probably didn’t know that Oklahoma was famous for? The onion burger. Taste the regional cuisine (it’s a burger with thinly sliced Spanish yellow onions pressed on top and cooked until crisp) at Sid’s. The owner came up with the recipe back in the Depression when onions were cheaper than meat and he wanted a way to make burgers taste better without spending more. Be prepared to wait—the line is often out the door!
Oregon: Original Hotcake House, Portland
Not to be confused with IHOP, this breakfast mainstay is where you can satisfy your pancake craving any hour of the day or night. The portions are plentiful so come hungry—the piles of soft, fluffy hotcakes soaked in homemade maple syrup will melt in your mouth.
Pennsylvania: Neptune Diner, Lancaster
For a taste of that homestyle Pennsylvania Dutch cooking, slide into a booth at the Neptune Diner in the heart of Amish country. It may have its own spot on the Travel Channel, but the family-owned restaurant has stuck to its roots and continues to offer crowd-pleasers like the Meatloaf Stack, a chunk of meatloaf atop mashed potatoes and adorned with mushrooms, crispy onion rings, cheddar cheese, and gravy.
Rhode Island: Modern Diner, Pawtucket
It doesn’t get more iconic than this railcar joint, nestled in the birthplace of the very first diner in America. Their popular breakfast plate, the Custard French Toast, was named Food Network’s “Best Diner Dish in America.” Fun fact: The recipe actually was created on accident when the owner made too much vanilla pudding so he decided to serve it on thick slices of toast; the rest was history. Check out the strangest food laws in every state.
South Carolina: Early Bird Diner, Charleston
The early bird gets the worm—and the crave-worthy chicken and waffles topped with either mushroom sage gravy or lavender honey at this Lowcountry establishment. With a rotating customer base of about 50 regulars who stop in every day, it’s obvious this is the spot to be for breakfast, dinner, and any meal in between. While you wait for your food, take a peek at the artwork from up-and-coming Charleston artists hung on the walls.
South Dakota: Phillips Avenue Diner, Sioux Falls
When you need a juicy burger or creamy mac and cheese on a rail (that’s fast in diner speak), hit up Phillips Avenue Diner. Once a silver airstream and now a brick-and-mortar restaurant, it has everything you look for in a greasy spoon: Friendly waitresses, ample portions, and decadent desserts (we’ll take a chocolate shake, please). Check out the top Airbnb rentals until $100 in all 50 states.
Tennessee: Mel’s Classic Diner, Pigeon Forge
Come at the right time and you might see Mel himself slinging burgers on the grill or cranking up the jukebox at this family-friendly hot spot. For a true ’50s experience, take your pick of one of the throwback-themed entrees like the Abbott and Costello Jumbo Wings or John Wayne’s Chicken Quesadilla. Save room for one of the famous banana splits at the end!
Texas: Magnolia Cafe, Austin
Y’all come on in! That’s the spirit of the eclectic Magnolia Cafe where all walks of life are welcome. And while you’ll be tempted to go for the wide variety of traditional Tex-Mex bites like the Migas or the Three Alarm Taco covered in homemade chipotle sauce, you’ll also want to try their renowned gingerbread pancakes. Pace yourself, though: After all, everything’s bigger in Texas, especially the portions.
Utah: Moab Diner, Moab
The vintage paraphernalia at the Moab Diner isn’t the only thing ’50s about it—the prices are extremely cheap, too. And even though it’s hot out in the Utah desert, it’s even hotter in the kitchen where the house specialty is a special green chili sauce. Simply ask your waitress to “smother it” and you can get the chili on top of anything from a burrito to an omelet. This is what a Utah and the other states look like as food.
Vermont: Chelsea Royal Diner, West Brattleboro
Half of what makes a diner experience so special is the setting—and we think the 1938 railcar adorned with whimsical artwork and retro signs does just that. At Chelsea Royal, you can pick from Mexican fare to more typical blue plates but know that whatever you choose is made with local, as-fresh-as-possible ingredients.
Virginia: Pink Cadillac Diner, Natural Bridge
The pink Cadillac sitting out front of this quirky diner is enough to make any hungry passerby pull over. And fortunately, the inside is just as fun as the hot pink outside. Amidst the jukebox, checkerboard tablecloths, and Elvis memorabilia, you can enjoy good food and even better prices. In between dinner and dessert, play a game on the retro pinball machines or take a pic with the giant King Kong statue.
Washington: Frank’s Diner, Spokane
No ticket needed for this historic railcar-turned-restaurant, just a big appetite. It’s best for breakfast when the coffee—and the conversation—never stops flowing. Some of the “field-to-fork” favorites include fried green tomatoes, Joe’s Special (an omelet with spinach, ground beef, and sausage) and Great Nana’s Meatloaf Benedict with a runny yolk. And make sure to add these best train rides to take across America to your bucket list ideas.
West Virginia: Grandma’s Diner, Charles Town
The name says it all: Grandma knows best, especially when it comes to hearty helpings and the fact that more butter is always better. Soak in the small town vibes (expect some sass from your waitress) while you try to finish the signature Busti, a quadruple layer French toast breakfast sandwich.
Wisconsin: Frank’s Diner, Kenosha
“Order what you want, eat what you get!” That’s the slogan over at Frank’s, which also happens to be the oldest lunch car diner in the country. By the way, when they say order what you want, that should be one of the Garbage Plates, which are basically everything you’d eat for breakfast thrown together in one dish. The Full Plate has five eggs, potatoes, peppers, jalapenos, onions, and meat.
Wyoming: Johnny J’s, Casper
Sometimes you just need a good handspun milkshake. Regardless of your favorite flavor or toppings, you can find some of the thickest, creamiest shakes at Johnny J’s ’50s-era soda fountain along with malts, soda pop, and fizzy floats. Check out the best festivals and fairs in each of the 50 states.