Special Report

The Best Diner in Every State

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The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the U.S.’s restaurant industry, including on the uniquely American institution of diners. Like many eating establishments, diners were brought to a breaking point during the long stretches throughout the year of operating under government-mandated restrictions.

Though indoor dining has been slowly resuming across the country, there are still far fewer Americans who choose to sit in a restaurant. There was a 44% decline of seated diners in March 2021 compared to March last year before restaurants, including diners, were ordered to close.

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.

Click here for the best diner in every state.

Historians trace the origins of diner-type restaurants 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 around 2,000, some 600 of them in New Jersey, the nation’s undisputed diner capital.

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 iconic sandwiches you can make at home.)

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. (You may want to know of at least 27 milkshakes with more calories than entire meal.)

Methodology

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. Chain units and establishments — whose size, menus, and/or style took what started as a diner out of the diner category — were passed over in favor of other, more traditional diners.

Source: Courtesy of Big Time Diner via Facebook

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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Source: Courtesy of Lucky Wishbone via Facebook

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)

Source: Courtesy of Welcome Diner via Facebook

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)

Source: Courtesy of At The Corner via 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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Source: Courtesy of Breakfast Club Diner California (BCDC) via Facebook

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)

Source: Courtesy of The Little Diner via Facebook

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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Source: Courtesy of O'Rourke's Diner via Facebook

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)

Source: Courtesy of Andy B. via Yelp

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)

Source: Courtesy of Peter Pan Diner via Facebook

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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Source: Courtesy of Marietta Diner via Facebook

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)

Source: Courtesy of Downbeat Diner via Facebook

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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Source: Courtesy of Dixie's Diner via Facebook

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)

Source: Courtesy of Charlie Parker's Diner

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)

Source: Courtesy of Oasis Diner via Facebook

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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Source: Courtesy of Bluebird Diner via Facebook

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)

Source: Courtesy of Old Mill Tasty Shop via Facebook

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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Source: Courtesy of Cindy S. via Yelp

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)

Source: Courtesy of Belle's Diner NOLA via Facebook

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)

Source: Courtesy of Becky's Diner via Facebook

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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Source: Courtesy of Pete's Grille via Facebook

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)

Source: Courtesy of The Breakfast Club via 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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Source: Don J. via Yelp

Michigan: Fleetwood Diner
> Location: Ann Arbor (and one in Lansing)
> Year founded: 1949
> Sample menu items: Original hippie breakfast, homemade corned beef hash, Fleetwood style Eggs Benedict
> What people are saying:Overall, Fleetwood Diner is an old school diner that is quintessential Ann Arbor and definitely worth a visit.” (Yelp)

Source: Courtesy of Simon G. via 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)

Source: Courtesy of Ajax Diner

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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Source: Courtesy of Oscar's Classic Diner via Facebook

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)

Source: Courtesy of Roadhouse Diner via Facebook

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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Source: Courtesy of Hi-Way Diner via Facebook

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)

Source: Courtesy of Lou's Diner Las Vegas

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)

Source: Courtesy of Vikki Z. via Yelp

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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Source: Courtesy of Tops Diner via Facebook

New Jersey: Tops 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)

Source: Courtesy of The WOW Diner via 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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Source: Courtesy of Jieun L. via Yelp

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)

Source: Courtesy of The Kill Devil Grill

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)

Source: Courtesy of Darcy's Cafe via Facebook

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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Source: Courtesy of Fred's Diner via Facebook

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)

Source: RunAway B. via Yelp

Oklahoma: Clanton’s Cafe
> Location:
Vinita
> Year founded:
1927
> Sample menu items:
Chicken fried steak & eggs, calf fries, grilled cinnamon roll
> What people are saying:
“The sign says it all. Old Route 66 dining in Americana at its best. You can’t beat the classic comfort food at an old school cafe that is still run very well.” (TripAdvisor)

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Source: Courtesy of The Roxy

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)

Source: Courtesy of Silk City Diner Bar & Lounge via Facebook

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)

Source: Courtesy of Modern Diner

Rhode Island: Modern Diner
> Location: Pawtucket
> Year founded: 1940
> Sample menu items: Custard French toast, meatloaf 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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Source: Courtesy of Early Bird Diner via Facebook

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)

Source: Courtesy of Betty's Restaurant ( home of the world's best sausage gravy) via Facebook

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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Source: Courtesy of Jowel G. via Yelp

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)

Source: Courtesy of 24 Diner

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)

Source: Courtesy of Ruth's Diner

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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Source: Courtesy of Blue Benn Diner Inc. via Facebook

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)

Source: Courtesy of Market at Main via Facebook

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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Source: Courtesy of Geraldine's Counter via Facebook

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)

Source: Courtesy Genesis D. via Yelp

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)

Source: Courtesy of Betty's Restaurant ( home of the world's best sausage gravy) via Facebook

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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Source: Courtesy of Franks Diner via Facebook

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)

 

Source: Courtesy of R & B Breakfast Club via Facebook

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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