Special Report

Best Diner in Every State

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The diner is a uniquely American institution. Historians trace its origins back to the horse-drawn lunch wagons that began appearing on the East Coast in the 1870s. These evolved into restaurants on wheels, complete with counters and bathrooms, and by the 1910s into permanent structures. 

Soon entrepreneurs were manufacturing prefab structures, characterized by stainless steel siding and brightly colored booths, that could be shipped around the country and set up almost anywhere. At their peak in the 1950s, there were about 6,000 diners across America. Today there are more like 2,000, some 600 of them in New Jersey, the nation’s undisputed diner capital.

Diner historian Richard Gutman once defined the diner as “[A] friendly place, usually mom-and-pop with a sole proprietor, that serves basic, home-cooked, fresh food, for good value.” Establishments that fit that definition still exist in every state today, and 24/7 Tempo has assembled a list of the best of these.

Some of the places on this list are genuine old historic diners, opened in the 1940s or ’50s or before. Others are modern recreations. They come in various sizes and in different architectural styles — though stainless steel and the Art Deco flourishes of earlier diners are often present.

 Almost all of the places on this list serve breakfast, often considered the quintessential diner meal, and some serve it all day — with ample choices of pancakes, waffles, omelettes and other egg dishes, and of course breakfast sandwiches. (Here’s 24/7 Tempo’s list of the best breakfast sandwich in every state.) 

While some menus are more creative and/or health-conscious, and some reflect local culinary traditions, almost all of these places serve such diner standards as pancakes, omelettes, burgers, meatloaf, and fried seafood, as well as pies and milkshakes. (Milkshake lovers will want to see the best place in every state to get a shake.)

Whatever’s on their menus, though, diners offer the flavor of America.

Click here to see the best diner in every state

In order to determine the best diner in every state, 24/7 Tempo reviewed numerous existing best diners lists from a variety of sites. Most of the diners on this list were ranked as the best in their respective states multiple times, but chain units and establishments whose size, menus, and/or style took them out of the diner category were passed over in favor of other diners ranked as best.

Alabama: Big Time Diner
> Location: Mobile
> Year founded: 1996
> Sample menu items: Fried shrimp salad, chicken tender po’boy
> What people are saying: “An absolute MUST for a delicious homestyle cooked meal!” (Yelp)

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Alaska: The Lucky Wishbone Diner
> Location: Anchorage
> Year founded: 1955
> Sample menu items: Grilled pastrami and Swiss, pan-fried chicken dinners
> What people are saying: “A landmark in Anchorage forever!” (Yelp)

Arizona: Welcome Diner
> Location: Phoenix
> Year founded: 2004
> Sample menu items: Jackfruit po’boy, peanut butter bacon burger
> What people are saying: “There is something for every taste bud here.” (Facebook)

Arkansas: At the Corner
> Location: Little Rock
> Year founded: 2014
> Sample menu items: Sweet potato pancakes, fried bologna sandwich
> What people are saying: “You might as well call At the Corner the Queen of Little Rock Breakfast.” (RockCityEats)

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California: Breakfast Club Diner
> Location: Oceanside
> Year founded: 2011
> Sample menu items: Country-fried steak and eggs, veggie club sandwich
> What people are saying: “Both breakfast and lunch menus are awesome!” (TripAdvisor)

Colorado: The Little Diner
> Location: Vail
> Year founded: 2008
> Sample menu items: Pannekoeken (“Dutch Baby” pancakes), avocado cheeseburger
> What people are saying: “Seriously the best breakfast we’ve ever eaten.” (Facebook)

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Connecticut: O’Rourke’s Diner
> Location: Middletown
> Year founded: 1941
> Sample menu items: Irish soda bread French toast, steamed cheeseburger
> What people are saying: “Diner fanatics have reason to be obsessed with O’Rourke’s…” (GroupOn)

Delaware: Crystal Restaurant
> Location: Rehoboth Beach
> Year founded: Early 1970s (?)
> Sample menu items: Create-your-own omelette, crab cake sandwich
> What people are saying: “Friendly staff, great service, and exceptional omelettes.” (Yelp)

Florida: Peter Pan Diner
> Location: Fort Lauderdale
> Year founded: 1978
> Sample menu items: Chicken gyro sandwich, broiled stuffed salmon Florentine
> What people are saying: “Nothing fancy, just a very welcoming eatery that will surely become your favorite.” (USA Today)

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Georgia: Marietta Diner
> Location: Marietta
> Year founded: 1996
> Sample menu items: Papa George’s Famous Greek Salad, Jack Daniel’s pork chops
> What people are saying: “Surprisingly diverse menu, speedy service…super friendly.” (TripAdvisor)

Hawaii: Downbeat Diner & Lounge
> Location: Honolulu
> Year founded: 2011
> Sample menu items: Loco moco (beef patty, eggs, rice, gravy), salted chocolate chip cookie sundae
> What people are saying: “This shiny late-night diner with lipstick-red booths posts a vegetarian- and vegan-friendly menu…” (Lonely Planet)

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Idaho: Dixie’s Diner
> Location: Idaho Falls
> Year founded: 2005
> Sample menu items: Chile verde breakfast burrito, California turkey guacamole melt
> What people are saying: “It’s basically where all of your 50’s fantasies come true.” (Spoon University)

Illinois: Charlie Parker’s Diner
> Location: Springfield
> Year founded: 1992
> Sample menu items: Charlie’s Famous Giant (16″) Pancake, Buffalo chicken sandwich
> What people are saying: “Oh my gosh, this place was soooooo delicious!!” (Yelp)

Indiana: Oasis Diner
> Location: Plainfield
> Year founded: 1954
> Sample menu items: Deluxe grilled cheese, sugar cream pie
> What people are saying: “Good comfort food with very large portions and service is always great!!!” (Zomato)

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Iowa: Bluebird Diner
> Location: Iowa City
> Year founded: 2008
> Sample menu items: Eggs Benedict Hemingway (with smoked salmon), green chili cheese fries
> What people are saying: “Basically – you can’t go wrong with their menu!” (Yelp)

Kansas: Old Mill Tasty Shop
> Location: Wichita
> Year founded: 1932
> Sample menu items: Chicken sour cream nachos, peanut butter, banana, and honey on egg bread
> What people are saying: “One of Wichita’s best restaurants! Amazing food!” (Facebook)

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Kentucky: Rick’s White Light Diner
> Location: Frankfort
> Year founded: 1929
> Sample menu items: Uncle Rick’s Magic Buckwheat Pancakes, chicken and sausage jambalaya
> What people are saying: “One day I was having so much fun I went for lunch, and hung out until it was time to eat dinner.” (Google)

Louisiana: Belle’s Diner
> Location: New Orleans
> Year founded: 2015
> Sample menu items: House-cured corned beef hash with eggs, fried catfish po’boy
> What people are saying: “I can’t imagine a more accessible and delectable place to grab brunch in the French Quarter.” (IHeartNOLA)

Maine: Becky’s Diner
> Location: Portland
> Year founded: 1991
> Sample menu items: Fried haddock Reuben, homemade meatloaf with beef gravy
> What people are saying: “If you’re looking for a classic Maine diner, Becky’s is it.” (Yelp)

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Maryland: Pete’s Grille
> Location: Baltimore
> Year founded: 1958
> Sample menu items: Belgian waffles with blueberries, clams in a basket with fries
> What people are saying: “The food is great and the service is excellent….” (Facebook)

Massachusetts: The Breakfast Club
> Location: Allston
> Year founded: 2002
> Sample menu items: House-made banana-Nutella Pop-Tarts, short-rib shakshuka
> What people are saying: “The Breakfast Club evokes a distinct sense of place.” (Boston Magazine)

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Michigan: Krystal Jo’s Diner
> Location: Flint
> Year founded: 2008
> Sample menu items: Tony’s Spicy Chicken Wrap, mushroom Swiss burger
> What people are saying: “Definitely a homestyle meal made with love.” (Yelp)

Minnesota: Mickey’s Dining Car
> Location: St. Paul
> Year founded: 1939
> Sample menu items: Mickey’s homemade Mulligan stew, hand-dipped chocolate malt
> What people are saying: “The workers are entertaining and the food is delicious.” (TripAdvisor)

Mississippi: Ajax Diner
> Location: Oxford
> Year founded: 1997
> Sample menu items: Oyster salad, hot tamale pie
> What people are saying: “It’s old, it’s simple, and it’s comfortable.” (Yelp)

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Missouri: Oscar’s Classic Diner
> Location: Jefferson City
> Year founded: 2004
> Sample menu items: Biscuits and gravy deluxe, smothered mushroom chicken
> What people are saying: :This cozy diner serves a breakfast that will knock your socks off.” (Visit Jefferson City)

Montana: Roadhouse Diner
> Location: Great Falls
> Year founded: 2015
> Sample menu items: Death by Bacon Burger, beer-braised pulled pork sandwich
> What people are saying: “I have to say that the Roadhouse Diner had the best hamburger and french fries I have ever eaten.” (Facebook)

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Nebraska: Hi-Way Diner
> Location: Lincoln
> Year founded: 1987
> Sample menu items: 5-egg King Kong sausage and cheese omelette, liver and onions
> What people are saying: “This is a quintessential representation of a diner. ” (Zomato)

Nevada: Lou’s Diner
> Location: Las Vegas
> Year founded: 1997
> Sample menu items: Pigs in a blanket, open-faced hot turkey sandwich
> What people are saying: “A locals’ favorite, with many patrons repeat guests for decades….” (Las Vegas Eater)

New Hampshire: Lindy’s Diner
> Location: Keene
> Year founded: 1961
> Sample menu items: Stuffed French toast with home fries, Lindy’s BLT wrap
> What people are saying: “Great diner that just re-opened under new management.” (Yelp)

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New Jersey: Top’s Diner
> Location: East Newark
> Year founded: 1942
> Sample menu items: Golden chicken noodle soup, fettuccini Alfredo
> What people are saying: “The quality and food portions were “TOP” shelf.” (Facebook)

New Mexico: The ‘Wow’ Diner
> Location: Milan
> Year founded: 2006
> Sample menu items: Huevos rancheros, grilled tacos
> What people are saying: “If you’re looking for a wholesome ’50s diner, this classic spot needs to be your first choice.” (Only in Your State)

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New York: Diner
> Location: New York
> Year founded: 1998
> Sample menu items: Mortadella sandwich, mushroom and leek pie
> What people are saying: “[N]o matter when you eat here, it always feels like an event.” (The Infatuation)

North Carolina: Kill Devil Grill
> Location: Kill Devil Hills
> Year founded: 2002
> Sample menu items: Beer can shrimp, Southern-fried chicken salad
> What people are saying: “This was one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time.” (Yelp)

North Dakota: Darcy’s Cafe
> Location: Grand Forks
> Year founded: 1959 (?)
> Sample menu items: Grandma Knudson’s buttermilk pancakes, grilled German sausage omelette
> What people are saying: “What a great hometown diner!! Busy but worth the wait!” (Yelp)

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Ohio: Fred’s Diner
> Location: Akron
> Year founded: 1989
> Sample menu items: Two eggs with a grilled pork chop, deep-fried ocean perch sandwich
> What people are saying: “Very down home, very reasonable, basic and consistent.” (Cleveland.com)

Oklahoma: Ozzie’s Diner
> Location: Norman
> Year founded: 1986
> Sample menu items: Interstate 80 omelette (with pastrami and Swiss), homemade chili
> What people are saying: “Best all-you-can-eat cooked to order breakfast in the Oklahoma City metro area!” (TripAdvisor)

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Oregon: The Roxy
> Location: Portland
> Year founded: 1994
> Sample menu items: Las Vegas Breakfast (scrambled eggs with diced ham), The Full Monty (Monte Cristo sandwich)
> What people are saying: “If you’re looking for a taste of Old Portland…look no further than the Roxy.” (Portland Mercury)

Pennsylvania: Silk City Diner Bar & Lounge
> Location: Philadelphia
> Year founded: 1954
> Sample menu items: Baked macaroni & cheese, shrimp burger
> What people are saying: “Silk City Diner…has renewed my faith in diner fare.” (South Philly Review)

Rhode Island: Modern Diner
> Location: Pawtucket
> Year founded: 1940
> Sample menu items: Custard French toast, meat loaf with mashed potatoes
> What people are saying: “The food was great, the atmosphere was super homey and warm, and the price was reasonable.” (Yelp)

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South Carolina: Early Bird Diner
> Location: Charleston
> Year founded: 2008
> Sample menu items: Sauteed shrimp and grits, patty melt
> What people are saying: “I can honestly say without a doubt that this is one of Charleston’s culinary gems.” (Food Network)

South Dakota: Phillips Avenue Diner
> Location: Sioux Falls
> Year founded: 1996
> Sample menu items: Banana bread French toast, Farmer’s Country Cobb salad
> What people are saying: “While it serves typical diner fare it does have some unique twists on some of the classic dishes.” (TripAdvisor)

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Tennessee: The Arcade
> Location: Memphis
> Year founded: 1919
> Sample menu items: The Downtowner pizza (garlic, feta, pesto, artichoke hearts), fried catfish sandwich
> What people are saying: “A must stop for any Elvis fan as this was his go-to when he dined in town.” (Yelp)

Texas: 24 Diner
> Location: Austin
> Year founded: 2009
> Sample menu items: Pork belly salad, no-bean chili
> What people are saying: “Great diner for any time of the day if you want some comfort food. (Foursquare)

Utah: Ruth’s Diner
> Location: Salt Lake City
> Year founded: 1930
> Sample menu items: Fresh Atlantic salmon hash with eggs, Ruth’s deluxe pork burger
> What people are saying: “Good home cooking food and plenty of it! Reasonable prices as well.” (TripAdvisor)

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Vermont: Blue Benn
> Location: Bennington
> Year founded: 1974
> Sample menu items: Whole wheat harvest pancakes with berries, spaghetti and meatballs
> What people are saying: “The food came fast and had the homemade taste.” (Yelp)

Virginia: Market at Main
> Location: Lynchburg
> Year founded: 2009
> Sample menu items: Fried green tomato BLT, fried chicken with macaroni and cheese
> What people are saying: “The only drawback to Market at Main’s menu is having too many good options…” (Lynchburg Business Mag)

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Washington: Geraldine’s Counter
> Location: Seattle
> Year founded: 2005
> Sample menu items: Bacon, egg, and arugula sandwich; sweet white corn, havarti, and herb scramble
> What people are saying: “[A] swell place…from folks who value quality ingredients, in a sensational brick and windowed room….” (SeattleMet)

Washington D.C.: Flip It LJ Diner
> Location: Washington D.C.
> Year founded: 2017 (original location: 2007)
> Sample menu items: Uptown chicken & waffles, mixed fajita platter
> What people are saying: “Such a nicely decorated little place with friendly, attentive service and delicious food.” (Yelp)

West Virginia: Betty’s Restaurant
> Location: Shepherdstown
> Year founded: 1959
> Sample menu items: Chipped beef gravy on toast, Black Angus chopped steak platter
> What people are saying: “Betty’s Restaurant [is]… a small diner in town that’s been there forever making guests happy.” (Charleston Gazette-Mail)

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Wisconsin: Frank’s Diner
> Location: Kenosha
> Year founded: 1926
> Sample menu items: Spam sandwich, Frank’s Garbage Plates (eggs, potatoes, choice of meats, and cheese)
> What people are saying: “[I]t not only packs in customers, it packs your plate with great food.” (Yelp)

 

Wyoming: R & B Breakfast Club
> Location: Cheyenne
> Year founded: 1996
> Sample menu items: Rocky Mountain breakfast burrito, green chili platter
> What people are saying: “Been coming here for years and haven’t had one complaint.” (Facebook)

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