Like a warm hug made of syrup and pie...
June 28, 2016 4:45 PM   Subscribe

From Extra Crispy: 50 of the Best (Non-Chain) Diners in the US.

Bonus: Not a Fieri in sight.
posted by 1f2frfbf (161 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
 
Man Losuiana had better be -

Okay good.

Maine is wrong it should be the A1, NJ is correct however.

(KJ-Alt said he didn't like diners in his recent food lab post and he's dead to me now, a hungry ghost, a pile of ashes. Not liking Diners is utterly UnAmerican.)
posted by The Whelk at 4:57 PM on June 28, 2016 [6 favorites]


That chocolate pie at the Koffee Kup . . .
posted by Countess Elena at 4:59 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


I lived down the street from the Triple XXX (the Indiana entry) when I was going to Purdue. The Duane Purvis is as glorious as they say.
posted by pmdboi at 5:00 PM on June 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


-2 for Skillet here in Seattle, should be Glo's. +2 for the Frontier, which is the pretty much my idea of heaven.
posted by lumpenprole at 5:01 PM on June 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


The best diner in the world is the one on your block that's open when you can't sleep.
posted by praemunire at 5:03 PM on June 28, 2016 [50 favorites]


I love America so goddamn much sometimes.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:07 PM on June 28, 2016 [12 favorites]


I wish there were more non-chain diners around these parts.
posted by GuyZero at 5:08 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


In the third pic, what is that on the left plate?
posted by Beholder at 5:09 PM on June 28, 2016


So how is "Triple XXX" pronounced aloud?
Triple Ex?
Triple Triple Ex?
Triple Ex Ex Ex?
posted by paper chromatographologist at 5:10 PM on June 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


2nded on -2 Skillet in favor of Glo's. Skillet was great when it started, but was always more of a Seattle-concept diner than an actual diner. Furthermore, I've heard the quality has declined, and I know the lines are too long and the price-point is too high.

Meanwhile Glo's is basically what a diner is. Large portions, early/late hours, eggs benedict, potatoes prepared a few different ways, coffee, pancakes and syrup and other stuff. Bam, simple. No opinion on whether the food quality is better than any other diner in Seattle, but it's good enough and it's got some history.
posted by tychotesla at 5:11 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oh, and Welcome Diner in Phoenix is the only reason I can be convinced to visit Phoenix for work. It's pretty much what Skillet was, but actually stayed that way.
posted by tychotesla at 5:17 PM on June 28, 2016


Sorry, if I can't roll up at 2 am and get steak and eggs, hashbrowns on the side, you're immediately disqualified from any "Best of" list.

8:00 am - 2:00 pm?

That's not a diner, that's brunch.
posted by madajb at 5:18 PM on June 28, 2016 [25 favorites]


However: Paper Moon is a great place but The Tastee Diner IS Maryland. It's all good tho.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:19 PM on June 28, 2016 [13 favorites]



In the third pic, what is that on the left plate?
Good question. For that matter, what's on the right plate? That picture doesn't speak well for the place.

Maybe it's the banana pancake?
posted by beagle at 5:20 PM on June 28, 2016


The Illinois entry is legit, at least after an epic drinking bout.
posted by merriment at 5:20 PM on June 28, 2016 [3 favorites]




Steak & Egg once, and not again. One of the cooks wiping his hands on his jeans. Say what you will but the place shouldn't be dodgy to have tasty food.

Anybody been to Virginia's The Virginian? I'd go for a plate of what I saw.
posted by datawrangler at 5:22 PM on June 28, 2016


this list is objectively incorrect about every state in New England.
posted by Old Kentucky Shark at 5:22 PM on June 28, 2016 [11 favorites]


I've been to the Shady Maple Smorgasbord in East Earl, PA. I love the Shady Maple Smorgasbord. But by _every fucking definition_ Shady Maple is not a diner.

Oh, it has food that is diner-style -- no-frills comfort food, a greasy grill cooking to order, legions of old and large and unsophisticated folk eating in. But a diner is not all-you-can-eat; eating true diner food is more of a gastric challenge than an extended invitation. A diner is not a huge building with multiple rooms for dining; it is a small restaurant, generally appearing to have spent more on chrome than on tables. It does not have self-service food bars and walk-up grills; it has waitstaff with their own private language who are often more obstacles than anything else. A diner does not have a gift shop; there shouldn't be anything you take away from a diner other than indigestion. And as madajb noted above, a diner does not close in the evening; the forsaken hours of the night are the reason that the diner EXISTS.
posted by delfin at 5:22 PM on June 28, 2016 [19 favorites]


Skyway Jacks looks so good and it's only 125 miles away. Guess I'll be hungry when I get there.
posted by Splunge at 5:26 PM on June 28, 2016


Potomac Avenue, agree with you about Tastee Diner. I've eaten at all three locations but will recommend the Ethesda location on Wednesdat for chicken pot pie. So good that people call in advance to reserve a pie (serves one).

I know because I have. Homemade, from crust to sauce.
posted by datawrangler at 5:26 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


this list is objectively incorrect about every state in New England.

I'm going to be there and I like diners, feel free to share your corrections.
posted by jeather at 5:28 PM on June 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


May I have some pie with my meringue, please?
posted by jim in austin at 5:30 PM on June 28, 2016


I was JUST at the Band Box Diner - the oldest diner in Minneapolis! It was like 90 degrees outside and even hotter inside, where there was no a/c. I can vouch that it was indeed delicious and my entire breakfast was like $6!
posted by triggerfinger at 5:32 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


This suffers from some of the same problems as fivethirtyeight's burrito bracket, in that it only allows for one entry from each state. There are probably 49 diners in New Jersey that would blow any of the rest of these out of the water.

(No particular allegiance to Jersey, I just am now aware since moving coasts that diner culture is really mostly an East Coast thing.)
posted by Sara C. at 5:34 PM on June 28, 2016 [11 favorites]


So, on my recent trek to far-flung Thisiswheretheoxdied, Kansas, we had lunch at the local diner. It was a real dump. Like, truckers would be afraid to use the bathroom, dump.

But...The food was crazy good. Honestly, one of the best reubens I've ever had. And, I prize a well-made reuben. You never know.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:35 PM on June 28, 2016


Did I guess the anointed diner for Oregon would be in the trendiest area in the trendiest city of Portland? Yes I did. Do I trust this to be true? No I do not.
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:36 PM on June 28, 2016 [6 favorites]


The diner aficionado in me could argue with the Illinois choice but the hometown homer in me who lIves not quite 2 blocks from there, passes it every morning, and has been getting late night drunk food there on and off there for over 20 years (including just two weeks ago) definitely will not.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 5:37 PM on June 28, 2016


Connecticut's is not the Andros or the Silver Star, New York's is not the Neptune or the Seville, and Vermont's is not the Oasis.

Can't take the list seriously.
posted by jonmc at 5:41 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Wisconsin's is wrong unless you enjoy corned beef hash (and who can trust anyone that does).
posted by rtimmel at 5:47 PM on June 28, 2016


I have issues with the Louisiana choice, not because I don't think Camellia Grill is good, but because, I don't know, is Louisiana really a diner sort of place? There isn't a diner in my hometown. I didn't grow up going to them. Sure, you get your greasy spoons, your luncheonettes, etc. but most don't serve traditional diner fare and aren't open 24 hours. Most in my neck of the woods would probably be described by most people as seafood restaurants or poboy shops.

So, I don't know, does Camellia Grill have anything on Parkway Bakery, Lea's Lunchroom, or my personal favorite, Nineteen Twenty-One Seafood? No, it does not. But I guess it counts as a diner, so.

(Lea's is pretty close to a diner, though, I guess, and frankly I'd have picked it over Camellia Grill.)
posted by Sara C. at 5:48 PM on June 28, 2016


Any correction that does not provide a replacement candidate cannot be accepted. Please check your entry and resubmit.
posted by zamboni at 5:48 PM on June 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


May I have some pie with my meringue, please?

seriously what the fuck is that

why is there an enormous boil about to rupture on top of that pie
posted by poffin boffin at 5:48 PM on June 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


May I have some pie with my meringue, please?

seriously what the fuck is that


That, my friend, is almost enough meringue to be some damn fine pie.
posted by datawrangler at 5:55 PM on June 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


Did I guess the anointed diner for Oregon would be in the trendiest area in the trendiest city of Portland? Yes I did. Do I trust this to be true? No I do not.

I can't tell if you are arguing about the choice of Fullers, or are pleasantly surprised
posted by Dr. Twist at 6:00 PM on June 28, 2016


Ugh, Hangover Easy? I like eating greasy food with sleep deprived medical students as much as the next person, but that can't be Ohio's best diner.
posted by ChuraChura at 6:00 PM on June 28, 2016


Everyone knows Lenny's is the best diner in Pinellas county and I've been to the Silver Skillet. It's disgusting. I disagree with all these opinions. (Thumbs up is the best in Atlanta but I guess it's a chain)
posted by dis_integration at 6:03 PM on June 28, 2016


I have nothing against the Frontier, but I really would have picked The Pantry in Santa Fe for New Mexico, just for their breakfast burrito with carne adovada and red chile alone....
posted by heurtebise at 6:05 PM on June 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


Maine is wrong it should be the A1, NJ is correct however.

I was momentarily disapointed not to see A1 (Gardiner, ME represent) however their focus seems to be on breakfast, which is not the A1 strong suit. So, I'm ok with their choice.

Thank god it wasn't Moody's Horrible Tourist Trap. Or Becky's. Or Marcys.
posted by anastasiav at 6:07 PM on June 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


Oh my! For Texas they chose the Koffee Kup Family Restaurant, formerly the Koffee Kup Kafe. I had my second most uncomfortable meal ever there, and I'm a middle aged white dude. They have a collection of salt shakers, most of them of the little black sambo variety. A google search for Koffee Kup Kafe racist brings up lots of hits.
posted by Grumpy old geek at 6:08 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


What galls me about chain diners -- I'm talking Denny's and IHOP mostly -- is that we have no shortage of diners around here. More than one per square mile for sure.

Most of which are lousy, for sure, or serviceable at best, but all of which are better than goddamn IHOP. And yet, every weekend motherfuckers are lined up outside like they're giving away pancakes in there. Assholes, all of them.

I'm not really a breakfast person, but my favorite diner breakfast is a cup of matzo ball soup and a chicken salad sandwich on rye toast. Might have to get me one this weekend.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:09 PM on June 28, 2016


this list is objectively incorrect about every state in New England.
I'm going to be there and I like diners, feel free to share your corrections.


This list is subjectively incorrect but I would take you to any of these places in a heartbeat:

Massachusetts:
Miss Worcester Diner

Rhode Island:
Modern Diner (Pawtucket)

New Hampshire:
Four Aces Diner

Vermont:
Chelsea Royal
(Ok, I'm biased about this one cause it's my hometown, but get the Cajun Skillet breakfast and a cup of coffee, OJ and tell me I'm wrong)

Maine:
Becky's Diner (open at 4am- on preview I see Becky's gets the stinkeye, admittedly Maine is my weak link, went there once and I liked it.)

Connecticut:
Not in New England but the pizza is great!
posted by jeremias at 6:10 PM on June 28, 2016 [6 favorites]


Picking a traditional diner from Northern VA to represent the state is a mean form of synecdoche. At least if you're going with Northern Virginia, go with somewhere that serves Salvadoran or Mexican food.
posted by mattamatic at 6:10 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Cntrl+F "Greek" - no hits in the thread, ONE hit in the list. Seriously, guys?

A good diner should have an infinite list of food items (most of which are variations on eggs and carbs and grease) and one small section from whatever ethnic group runs the diner that otherwise seems entirely random.

I put forth the Pink Palace in Milwaukee, Wisconsin as a type specimen.
posted by blahblahblah at 6:10 PM on June 28, 2016 [8 favorites]


Twain's in Studio City is gone, as is the Owl Diner in Stuart, Virginia.

Grumpy old geek, I advise you not to go to Sambo's in Santa Barbara.
posted by infinitewindow at 6:12 PM on June 28, 2016


Ctrl+F "clover grill" (12 matches)

Alright. You have my attention.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:13 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Tastee Diner is tremendous, but Maryland isn't just a suburb of DC. I will offer the Broadway Diner on Eastern Avenue or the Double T Diner on Pulaski Highway as a suitable Ballmer alternate.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:14 PM on June 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


A good diner should have an infinite list of food items (most of which are variations on eggs and carbs and grease) and one small section from whatever ethnic group runs the diner that otherwise seems entirely random.

This is why all Coney Islands in Michigan have such good Greek salads (with the pink dressing!)
posted by leotrotsky at 6:16 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Did I guess the anointed diner for Oregon would be in the trendiest area in the trendiest city of Portland? Yes I did. Do I trust this to be true? No I do not.

I can't tell if you are arguing about the choice of Fullers, or are pleasantly surprised


I'm sure Fullers is fine - haven't been, so I don't have a personal opinion. But these sorts of "best" lists - as well as sites like Yelp, usually - seem to consistently identify trendy places in downtown Portland; which I have come to assume means it's the winner of a popularity contest rather than a true measure of $thing's best-ness in $area (for values of $area larger than "Portland and inner suburbs"). I'd bet dollars to (non-Voodoo) donuts that there are other diners in Oregon that are just as good or maybe better than Fullers, that never show up in lists like this.

Maybe I'll trundle myself downtown some weekend morning and check it out, but I won't anticipate being especially wowed.
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:20 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Skyway Jack's Specials menu costs $7.95 in the Bronx.

Damn it, NYC!
posted by droplet at 6:24 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Steak 'n Egg Kitchen isn't dodgier than other places, it's just more open about it, because the distance from the cook to the people wanting for tables in the back is about four feet.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:30 PM on June 28, 2016


What they don't tell you about Clover Grill, however, is that it is not on "the far end" of Bourbon St. It's actually right in the middle of Bourbon St, but just past the "Velvet Line" where Terrible Bourbon St turns into Fabulous Gay Bourbon St.

If it's five in the morning and you just got off shift as security at a (straight) dance club, and your head is spinning from three shift drinks and eight hours of "That Goddamn Apple-Bottom Jeans Song" played at 150 dB, that's where you need to go. Stumble your way through the discarded beer cans, avoid the vomit land mines and hand-grenade-shaped plastic novelty cocktail glasses, and make your way to the other side of St. Ann St. Head into Napoleon's Itch for a quick beer to go, and take it across the street with you to the Clover Grill.

There, you will find a perfect pair of sunny-side-up eggs cooked for you in a hubcap by a young queer Black man wearing a pair of handcuffs clipped to his left wrist as a bracelet. It, as well as beautiful crispy bacon and a plate-sized waffle with golden, liquid butter perfectly filling every single pocket, will be lovingly served to you by an off-duty drag queen while Madonna's "Like a Virgin" plays quietly on an old CRT television above the counter. There is, of course, bottomless coffee.

The price will shock you with its reasonableness. Tip very, very well.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:33 PM on June 28, 2016 [26 favorites]


Previous diner thread with specific recommendations, including for New England (repping the Miss Worcester for Mass).
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:35 PM on June 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


Pantry is a lame choice, especially given how damn big California is. Sure, lots of history—it's literally been open for over 100 years straight and is not as disgusting as you might imagine. Point in favor. But it's like $20 for your basic egg breakfast plate and the food is not remarkable.

I can't speak to Bobo's as it hasn't been an institution in Tucson that long. What I can say is that it's likely nothing in comparison to what Grill used to be. I mean (yes I'm linking it AGAIN), check out that menu!
posted by carsonb at 6:38 PM on June 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


Well, I happen to live not 30 mins away from the NC diner and have I've never heard of the joint. So I'm taking this article with a grain shaker of salt. And a short stack. And side of hashbrowns.
posted by bologna on wry at 6:40 PM on June 28, 2016


carsonb, is House Of Pies better than Pantry? What about 4 n 20 in North Hollywood?
posted by Sara C. at 6:44 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Though most of these do look delicious, I think that they're mostly intended to be "that place you take visiting college buddies to after a spirited but abortive attempt to recreate the drinking binges of your youth" rather than "that place that you go to regularly because it's a solid local joint." Skyway Jack's, for example, has an enormous intimidating menu that's maybe 40% regular food and 60% carnival sideshow (how often do you think someone orders the scrambled pork brains? Or the four egg-two steak-home fries-sausage gravy heart attack on a plate?). Be honest: you only take your thirtysomething friends who are visiting from out of town and pretending that they still enjoy the grimy, filthy places they frequented fifteen-odd years ago there, and like once a year.

That being said, the hash at Stella's in Gulfport burns Skyway Jacks' to the ground and if you say otherwise I will fight you
posted by lorddimwit at 6:44 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


I used to spend a lot of time in Vienna, Va. since my friend lived there & I had friends who worked in the area. We never once went to The Virginian. Vienna Inn all the way! Or Amphora. And yeah, I know, it's all subjective, but come on! (Also, Vienna, for being tiny, certainly has a lot of diners.)

(I'd probably go with Bob & Edith's if we're doing a NoVa diner. But maybe more than one location -- even if it's owned by a family -- makes it a chain? And if we're going into Virginia-Virginia, so many other choices, but 3rd Street Diner is perfect, even if I haven't been there in more than a decade.)

I won't argue with the Papermoon selection for Maryland because it's in Baltimore and all, but I will and forever be a Tastee Diner girl. Yeah, multiple locations and all, but I wouldn't call it a "chain." Mmmmm. Tastee Diner. Maybe I can convince people to go there this weekend. (Bethesda one is the classic but the Silver Spring one is good, too. I haven't been to the Laurel one.)
posted by darksong at 6:45 PM on June 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


I generally distrust any breakfast joint that doesn't serve up at a minimum two of the following

1) A hot sauce that's better than tabasco (fresh salsa or pepper plant sauce being the best in sf bay area)
2) Real maple syrup
3) Jelly or Jam with either more fruit or sugar than corn syrup
4) Any one or more of: Dutch babies / German pancakes, kaiserschmarrn, buckwheat pancakes, non-Belgian waffles, crepes, Spanish tortilla, machaca, chorizo con huevos, or a sausage that can be described as something more than "links" or "patty".

I'm bummed because I feel like my favorite local joint Katy's Korner is starting to slip in quality, Rockridge Cafe is just shy of the amount of protein I like in an omelette, and Fox & Goose or Lucky Cafe in Sacramento are a bit far.

I know technically Diners have other delicious things like Reuben sandwiches or Monte Cristos, but I'm really in it for the breakfast.
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:46 PM on June 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


But by _every fucking definition_ Shady Maple is not a diner.

Came here to say precisely this. Shady Maple will change your life for the better. Shady Maple is the best of PA Dutch food, nay, of the very American ideal of plenty. SHADY MAPLE, HOWEVER, IS NOT A GODDAMN DINER.

I can't really offer up the best of the best (South St. Diner is a little too bougie, and also I suspect the best needs to be located not in Philadelphia, as much as it hurts to say that), but I would like to take this thread to thank the many diners of Northeast Philadelphia for giving me and my friends in high school a place to hang out on weekend nights that wasn't Franklin Mills Mall. You were truly serving your community.
posted by kalimac at 6:50 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Here is Salem we have the townie place that serves big plates of food whose menu never changes (Red's), the ambitious place that tries new things (Ugly Mug), and the other places you start to go to when the first two have lines out the door (but usually end up just walking home because dreams deferred).

I'm really impressed with the local diner options and I cut my teeth on the Somerville Brunch Wars of the mid-aughts, so I know what I'm talking about.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:51 PM on June 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


There, you will find a perfect pair of sunny-side-up eggs cooked for you in a hubcap by a young queer Black man wearing a pair of handcuffs clipped to his left wrist as a bracelet. It, as well as beautiful crispy bacon and a plate-sized waffle with golden, liquid butter perfectly filling every single pocket, will be lovingly served to you by an off-duty drag queen while Madonna's "Like a Virgin" plays quietly on an old CRT television above the counter. There is, of course, bottomless coffee.

I ate there last time I was in NoLa. They make a good chicken-fried steak, too.
posted by jonmc at 6:55 PM on June 28, 2016


Greg_ace, I'm with you. Haven't been to Fullers either, but I don't need to because that spot belongs to the Hotcake House. It's not hip, even in a hip because it's not kind of way, but god damn if their ultimate hash browns with cheese, two eggs sunny side up, and toast doesn't isn't the right thing for like 10 or 11 at night.
posted by phack at 6:56 PM on June 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


Ugh. Of course it would be Frontier. Anytime anyone brings up diner-y places in ABQ, it's always the goddamn Frontier. "An Albuquerque fixture since 1973" seems to be the main reason for it's fame. It's famous for being there.
posted by Beti at 6:58 PM on June 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


Also, while not strictly a diner, this place is one of the greatest greasy spoons in the universe.
posted by jonmc at 7:03 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Sara C. if I had to pick one in Los Angeles I'd take The Brite Spot.
posted by carsonb at 7:04 PM on June 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


LobsterMitten, I would be eternally grateful for a more detailed review of the Miss Worcester. Please, do tell.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:13 PM on June 28, 2016


Still haven't been to The Brite Spot, but it's the diner in You're The Worst, so that probably counts for something.
posted by Sara C. at 7:15 PM on June 28, 2016


What is the Cliffside Diner in Frankfort, KY doing with mugs from the Deluxe Town Diner in Watertown, MA?
posted by Spatch at 7:19 PM on June 28, 2016


Well, I see I have a quest now. I haven't even been to the diners named in my two home states.

Say what you will but the place shouldn't be dodgy to have tasty food

Sir and/or madam, I do not quibble with your particular restaurant preferences. I am sure that they are good or, at worst, appropriate. I say only that the rest of us have come here to discuss the American diner.
posted by middleclasstool at 7:27 PM on June 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


Wow, the VIP in Jersey City is still there? I remember going there when my sister lived there in the mid-seventies and JC was a tough town. I've read that it's gotten seriously gentrified in the last few decades so it's nice to see that the VIP has survived.

My favorite diners in Jersey were the Nautilus in Madison and the Travelers' in Dover but Google tells me that they tore down the Travelers' a few years ago to expand Rt. 46.
posted by octothorpe at 7:29 PM on June 28, 2016


I'm pretty sure Clover Grill saved my life one night. Or morning, not sure. All I remember is that the eggs tasted like olive oil and I was fine with that.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:34 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


If your talking Atlanta diners and you put the Silver Skillet above the Majestic, you're not from Atlanta. A key point of a diner is being open late after the bars close, and while I'd say that food-wise the Majestic is only marginally better, the fact that it never closes, and you can walk there from the Highlands AND the bars on Ponce. Slam dunk.
posted by dudemanlives at 7:35 PM on June 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


I tried to get into Papermoon once but someone yelled "DON'T STAND IN THE VESTIBULE" at us and we left.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:36 PM on June 28, 2016


I'm not going to go all "How could they have picked that one?" because the title was 50 of the best, not the 50 best. Anyways, the West Taghkanic Diner is indeed a wonderful diner, where I was only once, that neon Indian head beckoning us to pull off the Taconic. It was heavenly.

That said, if you are anywhere near Scranton, PA, try the Glider Diner or Chick's Diner.
posted by old_growler at 7:37 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


TASTEE DINER!

I have so, so many memories of the one in Bethesda. Do you remember the ads they used to play? There was that guy who said "I've been goin' here for fooorty years!"

In high school, we were too young to go to 21+ bars and such, so we went to Tastee. As we got older, we kept going because it was the place we'd always gone to. They had two sections where they'd put people - the sober section, and the drunk section for all the loud people. Sometimes we'd go in and be like "aww, they put us in the drunk section and we're not even drunk."

I always had coffee even if it was 2AM, because it seemed like the thing to do. I once went there with my mom for dinner, and it felt weird that it was light outside.
posted by teponaztli at 7:39 PM on June 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


Anticipation - it's just good! It's a tiny little freestanding classic diner building, tucked up under an overpass in a kind of iffy-looking area. Its walls are chockablock with decorations. When we've been there (not for a few years) it's been bustling, the service fast (which is important because there can be a line to get tables in the tiny space), and the food has been just... really good diner food. Their specialty is fancy french toast, but they also do the basics right - good eggs, good toast, etc.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:40 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


The Kenmore in wormtown is also great, and how about haven bros in providence?
posted by vrakatar at 7:46 PM on June 28, 2016


I'm all for Pantry in LA - it's super cheap, you get tons of food, and you can get stuff like hamburger steak, which is just the kind of ridiculous thing that diners are good for. You can ask them to put cheese on anything, and they'll do it. Heck yes!

I have a personal disliking of Brite Spot just because of how, er, trendy it is. Not that the Pantry isn't, but at least Pantry has been there since forever. I went to House of Pies once because of the name, and was sorely disappointed. It was like an IHOP without all the charm and refinement. There used to be a great place in Hollywood, Angel's Cafe, but it has since been replaced by some expensive "nouveau diner" type thing.
posted by teponaztli at 7:48 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


We passed through Flowood, Missisisippi last year and had breakfast at Primo's. Mrs. Mosley wanted to stay an extra morning just so she could have another breakfast there.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 7:52 PM on June 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


I've eaten at three of these, but not the one in my home town. The Band Box has some decidedly non-diner-like hours.

Mickey's is my Minnesota diner of choice. The grilled cheese highlights how great that flat top is seasoned.
posted by advicepig at 7:53 PM on June 28, 2016


Also (and then I'll stop commenting), I once ate at Angel's Cafe with a guy who had been on the Wally George show back in the day, and that alone gives it high marks - but of course it's disqualified on account of having closed down.

Also, it's not a diner per se, but special mention should go to the Samoa Cookhouse near Eureka, CA, which has been a cookhouse for more than 120 years. My mom used to go there on drives up to Oregon in the 60s, and she said you'd sit next to lumberjacks getting ready to go out for the day. Instead of having waiters, they'd just have you pass around plates of food and everyone would dig in, family-style.

Like I said - it's maybe not exactly a diner, but it's worth mentioning anyway.
posted by teponaztli at 7:54 PM on June 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


Man, diners are dying out in New Jersey. I was in West Orange last summer with my wife, so I figured we'd go to the Eagle Rock Diner. Closed! There was a notice on the door that they were auctioning off the furniture that day. Huge bummer.
posted by phooky at 7:57 PM on June 28, 2016


I fully expected to call bullshit on this list because the Massachusetts entry wasn't Queen Anne's, but there it was. So, uh, this list gets at least one diner right.
posted by suetanvil at 8:02 PM on June 28, 2016


phack, I agree with you about Hotcake House. I guess we'll both have to try Fullers, and compare notes.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:03 PM on June 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think half of the stories I heard in high school creative writing classes were anchored by the Tastee Diner and the Steak ‘n Egg Kitchen, either through buckets of coffee or by providing the set, characters, and plot. Good times, all.

also there is nothing resembling a decent Greek diner for like a million miles and I desperately require a meal where a pound of spanakopita is a side dish and it's literally impossible to order without somehow getting pie
posted by jetlagaddict at 8:10 PM on June 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


I can understand why they would pick The Frontier for New Mexico, but I don't think it really counts as a diner. There's not even a waitstaff. 66 Diner is just down the road and has a better claim to the title, in my opinion. Although I'll admit, heurtebise makes a good point about The Pantry in Santa Fe. It's arguably the best breakfast in the state.
posted by joedan at 8:25 PM on June 28, 2016


No Guy Fieri? I got as far as Massachusetts and found that the Silver Skillet in my state and Triple XXX (of course he would hit that one) had been on his show. Although I have to say I like Diners Drive-ins and Dives and would much rather eat at a restaurant Mr. Fieri recommends than one he owns.
posted by TedW at 8:25 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


The best diner in the world is the one on your block that's open when you can't sleep.

Nope. The best diner in the world is the one that hooked me up all night long when I was locked out, had no wallet and my housemate had a job interview the next day so I didn't want to wake him up. That is a solid diner.

It also helped that they have a most heart stoppingly excellent poutine.

It's Elgin Street Diner in Ottawa in case you get locked out someday.
posted by srboisvert at 8:26 PM on June 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


That, my friend, is almost enough meringue to be some damn fine pie

meringue is a nasty waste of mouth space where more pie could be instead
posted by poffin boffin at 8:26 PM on June 28, 2016 [8 favorites]


tbh
posted by poffin boffin at 8:26 PM on June 28, 2016


I'd like to recommend Knight's diner in Spokane, WA and the El Sombrero in Socorro NM (best breakfast burritos ever).
posted by Death and Gravity at 8:41 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Listen. I have been to all 50 states. Interesting choice for Washington, Skillet. That's a damn fine breakfast, but it's a yuppie hipster "diner" and I was hoping for something authentic. I have not found the best authentic diner in Washington and was hoping for something real.

In D.C., the winner is a Salvadoran place that has no name, roughly it would be on T street in NE.

But for real, the Tastee Diner. Tastee Motherfuckin Diner in Bethesda.

When I first started dating my wife -- who's all "organic this" and "tofu that" -- after one of the first times we spent the night together, a big group of my friends invited us out to the Tastee the next morning hungover. My future wife noticed a fried cockroach in her hashbrowns; we all pretended to be outraged and demanded recompense while barely lifting our heads out of our scrapple and eggs. To this day, I can't get my wife to join our sons and I at our preferred greasy spoon (Burgermaster near U village) for biscuits and gravy, and now our greasy diner experience is a dad and kids thing. No mom.

I'm not sure Tastee Diner is the best diner in Maryland but it's damn sure the most quintessential diner in the US I've ever been to.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:46 PM on June 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


Dupars is far better than House of Pies.

Goody Goody is the only place which gave a choice on the menu about how one wanted scrambled eggs.
posted by brujita at 8:49 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Never understood the love for House of Pies. The pies there aren't even that good. They picked a good name, I'll give em that.

I used to live just off Pico and therefore must cast a vote for Rae's, because it looks just how you want a diner to look. The food is pretty standard but the place is just cool as hell to walk into.
posted by town of cats at 8:58 PM on June 28, 2016


The Texas listing for the Koffee Kup is more than a little uncomfortable, unless you like your pie served to you with a side of a history of good ol' fashioned cross burnings.

Norma's in Dallas, while technically a chain with two locations, is every bit as good (if not better) and they won't even look twice at who sits at the counter.

And don't get me started on the awesomeness of central/south Texas' Jim's but they're a chain so I suppose won't meet this list's high standards of approval.
posted by item at 9:00 PM on June 28, 2016


Ruth's is a great choice for Utah, tucked in the bottom of Emigration Canyon, with a great outdoor patio and pillows, wait, I mean bisquits, oh yes. A wonderful brunching place.
posted by Oyéah at 9:01 PM on June 28, 2016


And if we're going into Virginia-Virginia, so many other choices, but 3rd Street Diner is perfect, even if I haven't been there in more than a decade.)

3rd Street has the history and the atmosphere, but the food's so bad. Not that good food is like the prime qualification (and indeed, I would disqualify Millie's Diner in Richmond for the food being good in a too upmarket way - anywhere you have to wait an hour to get brunch should be an automatic d/q), but it needs to at least not suck. I would go for either The Village Cafe, also in Richmond, or Texas Tavern in Roanoke. Or maybe Amphora as a sentimental choice, just because that's where I spent my high school days drinking cheap coffee and chain smoking.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 9:14 PM on June 28, 2016


I really, heartily disagree with all of the picks for places I have lived, but I also kind of respect a lot of these choices, because a lot of them are just "here's a place I went a lot with my family/college friends and have really good memories of" and that's pretty much what a diner is for, right? Like, I grew up in the next town over from the "best" of MA and I've never even heard of that place, but now I have to go next time I'm home. I would have picked the South Street Diner, for what it's worth. But that's probably because of my own fond memories.

That said, the neighborhood Cafe in St Paul is objectively better than the Band Box. Evidence: eggs with salsa, bell peppers, and sausage, topped with crispy hash browns and covered in melted cheese. Can't be beat.
posted by lunasol at 9:32 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oh, and Skillet absolutely 100% does not belong on this list. It's not even old enough for the writer to have nostalgic memories of it. It's good but it's a yuppie brunch place, not a diner. Come on now.
posted by lunasol at 9:33 PM on June 28, 2016


*Checks Iowa* Yep.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:36 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


(No particular allegiance to Jersey, I just am now aware since moving coasts that diner culture is really mostly an East Coast thing.)

I feel like there's more in the Valley.

Twain's in Studio City is gone

Or maybe there used to be. Is the Lamplighter still in NH? For years I thought it was a big chain because me and all my friends lived next to the only 3 locations. "They're everywhere!"

I generally distrust any breakfast joint that doesn't serve up at a minimum two of the following

1) A hot sauce that's better than tabasco (fresh salsa or pepper plant sauce being the best in sf bay area)
2) Real maple syrup
3) Jelly or Jam with either more fruit or sugar than corn syrup
4) Any one or more of: Dutch babies / German pancakes, kaiserschmarrn, buckwheat pancakes, non-Belgian waffles, crepes, Spanish tortilla, machaca, chorizo con huevos, or a sausage that can be described as something more than "links" or "patty".


And I sir, would hold the opposite opinion, and realize I had been bamboozled and was not in a diner at all.
posted by bongo_x at 9:44 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


teponaztli: I still miss Angel's Cafe. That man was an artist at the grill. And whatever the fuck replaced it looks sad every time I pass it.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 9:53 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Angel'z Diner, that is. Was. Sigh.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 9:55 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


I call shenanigans. They got MN (should be Mickey's) and ND (should be Charlie's in Minot) wrong.
posted by Ber at 9:56 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'd like to recommend Knight's diner in Spokane, WA

Amen. Washington's pick was a total waste.

Also, a shoutout to the Otis Cafe in Otis, OR, near Lincoln City. Tiny, crowded, been there forever, delicious.
posted by wallabear at 10:11 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


CONNECTICUT
Norm’s Diner, Groton
I have a mug from there. It's one of my favourites. Great memories of stopping over for a break on the overnight ride from a show in Camden to Boston for a show at Great Woods.
posted by mikelieman at 10:42 PM on June 28, 2016


When I went to the clover grill they had a giant sign that said You Dont Have to be STraight to be STraight with God, and another sign about gay outreach bus transport to Angola--it seemed to be a genuinely friendly plce. Also, holy fuck was the sausage and biscuits there insane.
posted by PinkMoose at 10:51 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]




And a shout-out for the place around the corner from my house Dan's Place II, old dining car style with a big flat-top up front. I love watching Tommy work. It's a thing of beauty.
posted by mikelieman at 11:14 PM on June 28, 2016


Vermont's is not the Oasis.

The Oasis is no more, replaced with a deli that has since itself been replaced with a farm-to-table taqueria.
posted by en forme de poire at 12:54 AM on June 29, 2016


(Given that, Henry's and Al's French Frys are the only things that fit this category in the BTV area. Though growing up I think I spent more time at the goddamn Denny's on Shelburne, because nerd stereotypes.)
posted by en forme de poire at 1:12 AM on June 29, 2016


I guess Al's is more of a burger joint than a diner but it occupies the same category in my head, for some reason, ok I'll shut up now.
posted by en forme de poire at 1:17 AM on June 29, 2016


I'd bet dollars to (non-Voodoo) donuts that there are other diners in Oregon that are just as good or maybe better than Fullers, that never show up in lists like this.

Maybe I'll trundle myself downtown some weekend morning and check it out, but I won't anticipate being especially wowed.


Fuller's is solid, I can't knock it - especially given the rest of the diner options in the vicinity. If you're gonna head downtown for breakfast skip Fuller's and go to John's Coffee Shop off Broadway and Everette. It's tiny, the food is quite good. The couple who own and operate it are the dearest salt of the earth people you'll ever meet. I go in every now and then before work. There are old men who eat breakfast there every morning at the same time and same table month after month and I swear they've been doing it for 40 years.
posted by space_cookie at 1:19 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


The pick for Pennsylvania genuinely enrages me. There are vast swathes of the state where franchised restaurants still haven't penetrated, where if you're going to eat out, you're eating somewhere that's still unique and family-owned. Pennsylvania is crawling with non-chain greasy spoon diners. And dinors up in the northwest part of the state. And their pick is some damned thing that isn't even a diner or dinor.

This completely invalidates their list. They are idiots who do not know what a diner is. Nor a dinor.
posted by ardgedee at 1:34 AM on June 29, 2016


ND (should be Charlie's in Minot) wrong.

Given the vast percentage of my high school years in Grand Forks I spent at Perkin's and Village Inn I'm really upset that I've never been to the one they picked.
posted by flaterik at 1:34 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


In my book, the best diner in any state is the first one encountered on the drive from the airport after flying back from the UK. Anyplace with an honest chicken-fried steak with country gravy and a side of biscuits. I'm not to proud to say that even a Waffle House will do in a pinch.

There are American diners over here. In the past couple of years they've been popping up like mushrooms. Possibly as payback for all the "authentic" British pubs in the US. We've made a bit of a hobby of visiting them to see just how close they come to the mark (invariably, they're as American as banoffee pie), and have a bit of a discrete chuckle. My favourite "ummm, no..." is the OK diner (that's its name) just north of Peterborough. They made a good try at decor by covering the walls in old licence plates. Canadian licence plates.
posted by penguinicity at 3:22 AM on June 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


Carol's Diner, in the Bronx, had the best home fries (potatoes, onions, a little red pepper, and some beef broth). And yes, Carol remembered your order if you were a regular.
posted by datawrangler at 4:09 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


For LA ––

I really like Pipers in Koreatown. Check it if you haven't yet done so. Great pancakes, shitty coffee and one hell of a breakfast burrito. Open 24 hours, too.
posted by raihan_ at 4:26 AM on June 29, 2016


I have no idea about Skillet, but thank goddess they didn't pick Glo's. That is the single most overrated restaurant I've ever encountered, by far. So they have frickin' eggs Benedict. Billions of restaurants do. It's mediocre food, expensive, and unpleasantly packed.
posted by mysterious_stranger at 5:00 AM on June 29, 2016


Sorry, if I can't roll up at 2 am and get steak and eggs, hashbrowns on the side, you're immediately disqualified from any "Best of" list.
8:00 am - 2:00 pm?
That's not a diner, that's brunch.


So... It's a class distinction, but I don't think it's the one you're trying to make (that breakfast diners are effete somehow, offering brunch instead of solid, working-class meals). Most of the diners I know of that are open only for breakfast and lunch have nothing resembling brunch.

Based on my experience living both in urban and rural areas, and going to diners in both, there is a common type of rural or small-town diner only open for breakfast and lunch, because that's when blue-collar working folks want diner food. They're often quite inexpensive and no-frills as well. Meanwhile, a lot of the 24-hour diners I know about (that aren't in big cities, where working people sometimes do shift work and need meals in the wee hours) simply cater to college students who want a starchy meal and a place to hang out after closing time, which to my mind detracts a bit from their authenticity as a diner diner.
posted by aught at 5:33 AM on June 29, 2016


When I was 14, I got my first job as a waitress at Royal Cliffs Diner in Englewood Cliffs, NJ. My standards of measuring diner greatness may be different from other people's, but what matters is:

* 24/7 menu that includes eggs, omelettes, grilled cheese, meatloaf, turkey dinner, Greek salads, sardine salads, club sandwiches, a "dieter's special" of canned fruit and cottage cheese, soups, Greek specialities, pasta, burgers, veal scallopini, lasagna, pancakes, muffins, fish specials of the day, matzo ball soup, steak tips, rice pilaf, sides of oversteamed broccoli, freezer-burned French fries, and a ridiculous pastry case with 20 9" tall cakes and they all taste the same;
* dated celebrity pictures as you enter (ideally Frankie Valli and Sugar Ray Johnson are representing);
* weird old-school arcade machines in the vestibule;
* a cranky elderly female cashier who chain smokes and ignores customers;
* a free mint bowl at the register that has those delicious chocolate-covered mints that you KNOW are germ-ridden because nobody uses the spoon but you eat them anyway;
* waitresses wearing nylon uniforms who call everyone "hon" and KNOW to immediately bring coffee;
* counter seating;
* busboys running around and often breaking things who never bring you the water you ask for;
* jukeboxes at the table that do not work.

Anything else is a coffee shop or a restaurant.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 5:43 AM on June 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


24/7 hours only make sense when the locale supports it. In most of the country, the post-industrial economy means that nothing's operating second and third shifts other than the county hospital's emergency room and the gas station off the Interstate. When the town is dead enough that you can walk down the middle of Main Street during rush hour, the diner's lucky to have sufficient patronage to keep operating, never mind earning enough to cover the overhead for the dozen-plus hours of the day when they'll be averaging less than one customer at a time.
posted by ardgedee at 6:04 AM on June 29, 2016


I'd just like to nth the complaint that Shady Maple is NOT a diner. It's a smorgasbord. A person who can't tell the difference between a diner and a smorgasbord is not qualified to be a food writer.

A diner is a place you can run in and get a cup of coffee and a BLT or a 2 egg breakfast cheap and quick. Not a place you have to stand in line for 30 minutes to pay $22 for more food than you could eat in a lifetime.
posted by interplanetjanet at 6:29 AM on June 29, 2016


The Pantry is a waste of time. There's a tourist line every weekend and it's not even remotely good. I'm all about Paty's in Toluca Lake, spelled with one T. 75 year old waitresses and all. And they have a croque monsieur, which makes the husband enormously happy.
posted by Sophie1 at 6:31 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


BOOO.

This list is invalid because it is missing Banana Curve from Sayre PA and Somerset Diner from Somerset NJ with the awesome bubble wall. (Although it's hard to pick just one place in NJ. I'm also fond of PJ's Pancake House.)
posted by sperose at 6:38 AM on June 29, 2016


If your talking Atlanta diners and you put the Silver Skillet above the Majestic, you're not from Atlanta. A key point of a diner is being open late after the bars close, and while I'd say that food-wise the Majestic is only marginally better, the fact that it never closes, and you can walk there from the Highlands AND the bars on Ponce. Slam dunk.

Eh, I'm-a disagree. The Majestic used to be cheap and now it's been pretty hipstered up. I lived around the corner on Blue Ridge and I wouldn't go to the Majestic, no matter how drunk I was. Mostly because it wasn't cheap enough after a night out.

I've got no stake in the Silver Skillet, though, either. My favorite diner in Atlanta, or the closest approximation thereof, would have been Gato Bizco in Candler Park. I miss their pancakes something fierce.
posted by Kitteh at 6:43 AM on June 29, 2016


So... It's a class distinction, but I don't think it's the one you're trying to make (that breakfast diners are effete somehow, offering brunch instead of solid, working-class meals). Most of the diners I know of that are open only for breakfast and lunch have nothing resembling brunch.

Often these places have limited hours to keep costs down and to prevent people like students and amateur writers/artists from tying up a table for four hours over a five-dollar plate of eggs and a bottomless cup of coffee. Aunt Martha's Pancake House back home shuts down very early in the day for reasons not unlike these, and if you called that a brunch place, the owner'd likely hit you with a pan.

Also I'm sure there are worse jobs in the world than serving steak and eggs to a bunch of belligerent drunks at 3 am, but damned if I can think of one right now.
posted by middleclasstool at 6:54 AM on June 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


Yeah, Jersey is pretty much Ground Zero for diners. Everyone else is racing for second.
posted by mikelieman at 7:18 AM on June 29, 2016


Steak & Egg once, and not again. One of the cooks wiping his hands on his jeans. Say what you will but the place shouldn't be dodgy to have tasty food.

I doubt it's any bastion of food-safety, but my money would have been on the Florida Avenue Grill, if forced to choose among DC's depressingly-few diners.

This was my one beef with House of Cards. Very unrealistic depiction of the availability of no-bullshit late-night diners in DC. Pete's is the only thing on the Hill, and it isn't open after Lunch.

The Silver Diner is surprisingly good for a (local-ish) chain.

I miss New Jersey.
posted by schmod at 7:21 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


Providing students, teenagers, road-weary travellers, and amateur poets with an inexpensive place to get a solid meal and while away the wee hours of the morning is one of the essential functions of a diner though, I'd argue. If they're not willing to do that, they're not a full-service diner in my book. I wouldn't go so far as to say that they're not a diner at all, but if my friends and I can't camp out at a table from 3 to 6 am over plates of eggs and a bottomless mugs (provided that we don't cause a disturbance and aren't overly demanding of the waitstaff) then it certainly doesn't belong on any Top Diners List.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:24 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


but if my friends and I can't camp out at a table from 3 to 6 am over plates of eggs and a bottomless mugs (provided that we don't cause a disturbance and aren't overly demanding of the waitstaff) then it certainly doesn't belong on any Top Diners List.

I'm going to open up a dining establishment that used to be a railroad car, is only open between 3-6 am, the name of said establishment will be "The Semantic Diner".
posted by jeremias at 7:31 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


jeremias, sounds like the return of Dolly's Late Nite in Somerville. I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.
posted by whuppy at 7:51 AM on June 29, 2016 [2 favorites]



(Given that, Henry's and Al's French Frys are the only things that fit this category in the BTV area. Though growing up I think I spent more time at the goddamn Denny's on Shelburne, because nerd stereotypes.)


Don't forget the Parkway Diner out on Williston Rd., or even Handy's right south of downtown. (I agree that Al's is chrome enough to occupy a diner-esque mental space , but no eggs probably disqualifies it.)

For the piles of eggs, the Yankee boiled dinners, the pie, the perpetual availability of Moxie, and the sheer scale of the place, Vermont's really needed to be the Wayside Diner. They'll be 100 years old in 2018! Henry's will be a mere 93. ;)
posted by Earthtopus at 8:06 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


I've never liked the food at House of Pies, and I have a deep love for Brite Spot's salted honey pie. Also, Brite Spot has this: "Southern Decadence $11.25 Buttermilk biscuit, chicken fried chicken, bacon, cheddar, country sausage gravy, sunny side up egg" which, if you are a little drunk and hungry and up too late and missing the damn fine diners of North Texas, pretty much ticks all the boxes.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:06 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


The food is pretty standard but the place is just cool as hell to walk into.

This could be the official slogan of Los Angeles.

Which is the "good" DuPar's, btw? There's one across Ventura from my Sunday morning (SFV) Farmer's Market stop, but all my friends swear it's lackluster and overpriced. I've never been to the one over by the Grove, because there are a ton of really good restaurants right there, so why bother with a diner?

I have not been to Paty's, but I've driven by and been tempted a million times. Will definitely give them a stop-by.

There's a place deep in the Valley near my place that actually used to be an IHOP, but the owners got sick of paying the franchise fees and just turned it into a mom & pop breakfast joint instead. It's called Pancake Factory now. It's OK, but unfortunately not as good as I wish it would be.
posted by Sara C. at 10:00 AM on June 29, 2016


For all of D.C.'s pretensions to culinary significance, one constant in all the many years I've been here is its absolute indifference to diners (the establishments, not the patrons). Why this city can't support a couple of Greek diners like the kind I grew up with in NYC is an enduring mystery. Don't know the one cited in the article, but I went to Florida Ave. Grill precisely once and never again, the food was that mediocre and gross. I assume that, like Ben's Chili Bowl, it survives by dint of pure nostalgia.

That said, +1 for Skyway Jack's, a visit to which was always a highlight of the annual trips I'd make to Tampa, back to when the diner was located just by its namesake bridge.
posted by the sobsister at 11:05 AM on June 29, 2016


Re: Los Angeles diners.

So far I haven't been able to find better than Pann's. A tiny bit pricey, but the food is worth it. I know it's a boring, standard suggestion, but that's what you get.

Now, as far as great breakfast, non-diner, places, I know a number.
posted by bswinburn at 11:49 AM on June 29, 2016


I swear if you say anything about red velvet pancakes the size of your head...
posted by carsonb at 11:59 AM on June 29, 2016


If they're not willing to do that, they're not a full-service diner in my book.

I certainly get that from a customer point of view, but from the diner's perspective it's a god-awful business model. You can easily lose money on customers that way.

It's sort of like when Barnes & Noble had big comfy chairs everywhere, and people would use it as their living room, going in just to sit and read and maybe drop a few bucks on a coffee, but otherwise reading and leaving the books for the staff to reshelve. I'd see those people and think that's really friendly to your customers, but you're making zero money and probably rendering a fair bit of your inventory unsellable that way. Now the chairs are harder to come by, and power outlets in the cafe even harder.

There was a diner named Chubby's where I went to college that solved the problem by basically getting surly af with any hangers-on, especially students. They were open all hours of the night (and turned into a delightful drag bar after last call), but if they saw you with an open textbook, it was order food or get the fuck out.
posted by middleclasstool at 12:07 PM on June 29, 2016


They got New Mexico right ..... hashbrowns/egg/bacon/green chile breakfast burrito at the Frontier all the way, day or night, maybe with extra green chile salsa.
posted by answergrape at 12:38 PM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


Well yeah, you can sometimes make more money by providing a worse experience to your customers, obviously. But we're not talking about "America's most profitable diners" here, we're talking about the best ones. And I'd argue that allowing your patrons to camp out in a low-key way during off-peak hours when the place is mostly empty can pay long-term dividends in the form of positive reputation and community goodwill. It's harder to calculate the financial impact of that, but long late-night bull sessions over bacon and coffee are one of the things that elevate a diner from "good, inexpensive breakfast joint" to "irreplaceable community institution" status.

Surly waitstaff are fine, though. One of the defining characteristics of a diner is that the waitstaff are no more polite to you than they feel you deserve. Unlike in almost every other customer-service job in America, smarmy obsequiousness is not an expectation for diner waitstaff. Long may it be so.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 12:40 PM on June 29, 2016 [3 favorites]



I swear if you say anything about red velvet pancakes the size of your head...


Nah, but Eggs Benchero Benedict make a showing.
posted by bswinburn at 2:18 PM on June 29, 2016


…smarmy obsequiousness is not an expectation for diner waitstaff

Oh yeah? Well you can just kiss mah grits!
posted by TedW at 2:48 PM on June 29, 2016


Colorado's a mess. I always found the Denver Diner kind of pointless-- the article says it was a key goth hangout in the 90s, but The White Spot always totally eclipsed it for that, and in terms of food, it was never all that good. (In fairness, The White Spot wasn't either.)

For my money, Colorado has to be either Davy's Chuckwagon Diner (which has terrible hours, but makes cheap, decent food and is an actual, modular diner from the 50's-- a thing that is vanishingly rare in the West) or Pete's Kitchen, which is open 24 hours, is loads of fun, and has a chili size that will break your heart.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 2:54 PM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


The Hawaii pick should have been Likelike Drive Inn. Likelike has local faves like saimin and loco moco and diner classics like a western omelet and mysterious beef specials. I mean saimin is delicious, but a saimin place is NOT A DINER.
posted by spamandkimchi at 3:03 PM on June 29, 2016


I can never remember the name of it, but a friend and I used to go to a diner in Chicago somewhere pretty far north (at least relative to where I lived) on Western. My friend was really into it because, as he said, it tasted like what he imaged the 70s were like. Meatloaf that didn't taste like any single, definable meat. Vegetables that looked more like grainy pictures of vegetables in a 1975 issue of Good Housekeeping than like an actual thing that once grew out of the ground. All of it served in a room that was, as far as I can remember, 85% formica, with a jukebox (also probably formica) that didn't have anything more modern than ABBA.

My friend says it's still going strong, which is the most amazing thing, since we were always the only people eating there. Maybe it's a front.
posted by teponaztli at 3:16 PM on June 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


Oh man, you guys talking about Osman and Joe's Steak N Egg Kitchen made me remember the old Steak And Egg on Lee Hwy in Arlington (apparently it's still around but under the name Linda's). I haven't thought about that place in years.

"The Silver Diner is surprisingly good for a (local-ish) chain."

Agree! They revamped their menu a few years ago and they have a surprisingly good suite of vegetarian and alt-diet (gluten free, etc) options, fresh veggies, etc, while still having eggs, milkshakes and the other standards. They have a branch at BWI and it's a legitimately good option for having a real meal.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:54 PM on June 29, 2016


(Silver Diner also has a facsimile of those individual jukeboxes at your table, where you can flip through listings of available songs, though it's all greatest-hits (no albums), it's MP3s, and it plays over the whole-place speakers not just at your table.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:56 PM on June 29, 2016


I dunno, my vote for Denver's best diner is The Breakfast King. Sure, it hasn't been remodeled since the 1970s. Sure, my boyfriend once found a chunk of metal in his chili rellenos. But those rellenos are good enough that we keep coming back. And the pancakes are made of angels.
posted by zeusianfog at 4:25 PM on June 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


even Handy's right south of downtown

Yeah, weird that I forgot about Handy's! I guess I just never went there much because of the hours. I have also somehow never been to the Parkway.

PJ's Pancake House

I never really rated PJ's very highly -- my feelings about it are basically summed up by this Serious Eats article: "It's a totally decent-and-nothing-more diner where the pancakes themselves are... fine." That said, for New Jersey, most of the local diners in that general area are pretty mediocre and expensive. And I just looked up the one I used to go to all the time with my friends, and it not only is closed now but also had all of 2 stars on Yelp (where half the pictures are of someone finding a ladybug shell in their potatoes)... so maybe I wasn't giving PJ's a fair shot.

If we're talking about the worst diner in that area, the mercifully-defunct Carousel would have to take number one. The decor was one thing (I remember it as having acoustic tile ceiling and thin wall-to-wall carpet, and one carousel horse in the window in a limp attempt at providing a theme -- one review describes it "as if they had moved some tables into a former Payless"), but it's also the only place I've ever been where the coffee was so bad that my dining companion was literally moved to laughter after his first sip. We all thought it had to be a front for something.
posted by en forme de poire at 5:37 PM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


The Studio City Dupar's was my family's go-to one when I was a kid; the one in the Farmer's Market is the original. I like Mel's(which originated in the SF area) too.

I haven't been to 4&20 in a while, but friends of the family recently moved back to LA and still liked it.

The woman who mods an SF Valley nostalgia page on FB swears by Beeps.

RIP Yukon, French Marketplace, Ben Franks, Jan's, Silver Spoon.....
posted by brujita at 11:32 PM on June 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


Brujita - we hung around the same places! Yukon Mining Company was my go-to diner throughout the 90's and if we got to Silver Spoon on a weekday morning, you could see Shelley Winters dining on the patio. On the other hand, while I grew up going to the Dupar's in Studio City, I could not hate it more. I really miss Yukon. Do you ever go to the Astro Diner in Silverlake? It's owned by the same people that owned Jan's and Silver Spoon.
posted by Sophie1 at 7:51 AM on June 30, 2016 [3 favorites]


Good suggestions for New England, jeremias. (Too bad The Tasty [SLVimeo] in Harvard Square is long gone. Pour out a small cup of burned coffee for Charlie the cook.)

On Father's Day I drove the family minivan past the Miss Worcester Diner, and it was a struggle not to fling open my door at the next red light and just run to the place.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:06 AM on June 30, 2016


My main critique of 4&20 is that I don't get it. There's something about it that isn't built on the model of the classic East Coast diner, so they do weird things like offer blueberry cake (not muffins, cake) as a toast option, serve bottomless mimosas, etc. I'm not mad at it, I just don't entirely trust it.

Then again, a diner menu should make little to no actual sense, so perhaps this is what makes 4&20 great in the end.

Also, they stock blackberry and strawberry jams and marmalade in addition to the typical noxious grape jelly. So they get points for that.
posted by Sara C. at 9:21 AM on June 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


Sophie1, I don't think I've been to Astro diner (when I'm in town and take surface streets back to midcity from Pasadena my route is Colorado-Brand-Los Feliz) , though I'm familiar with Astro Burger in West Hollywood.

With Dupar's, 4&20 and Marie Callendar's the focus is more on pie.
posted by brujita at 9:59 AM on June 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


Astro Family Restaurant is exactly like Jan's and Silver Spoon. It's literally right off the Fletcher off-ramp of the 5 freeway where Silverlake Blvd ends.
posted by Sophie1 at 10:58 AM on June 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


food-wise the Majestic is only marginally better

It really wasn't that great, food-wise, but I never cared

In other Atlanta diner news, Evans' Fine Food went out of business :(
posted by thelonius at 2:57 PM on June 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


I like the food at Cafe 50's too.
RIP Dolores (which was originally a drive-in).
posted by brujita at 9:35 PM on June 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


My parents used to end a lot of their dates at the Hamburg Inn No. 2 when they first starting dating at the University of Iowa back in the 60's. It's still pretty much the exact same place. Excellent choice.
posted by Foam Pants at 11:53 PM on June 30, 2016


Laurel Snyder based her "Slidy Diner" there.
posted by brujita at 5:12 AM on July 1, 2016


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