The Most Iconic Diner in Every State
From Alabama to Wyoming, every state has its most memorable and delicious greasy spoon. These are the 50 best diners in the country.
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We all have our own personal best diner—the place that’s seen us through late nights, early mornings, emergency pancakes, and 15 cups of coffee in a row. From 24-hour breakfast to cozy retro booths, the best sandwiches to your favorite foods, a good diner isn’t just an integral part of your community, it’s the place where life happens. You’re more than likely to get your state food there, and even if it’s not the best coffee shop around, a good greasy spoon is an essential part of your day. With that in mind, we’ve thoroughly investigated customer ratings, TripAdvisor scores, and local gossip to find the absolute best diner in every state. Dig in!
Alabama: City Cafe Diner
The first thing you’ll see when you walk into City Cafe Diner in Huntsville is rows and rows of homemade cakes, smothered in fluffy frosting. While you can’t go wrong with any of the decadent dessert options, we recommend the “volcano.” It’s a massive slice with layers of cheesecake, chocolate mousse and brownie all coated in chocolate and slivered almonds. They’re also famous for their Greek food, so get on that moussaka. Speaking of, is eggplant a fruit or a vegetable?
Alaska: Gwennie’s Old Alaska Restaurant
Gwennie’s in Anchorage is famous for their huge portions and insanely delicious breakfasts, especially the reindeer sausage and crab omelet. You are in Alaska, after all! The decor is rustic, with beautiful Native art adorning the walls. Visitors and locals alike agree that you can’t miss this iconic diner. And with all the great seafood in Anchorage, you’ll want to know: what is sashimi?
Arizona: Mel’s Diner
Not only was it the setting of the 1970s TV sitcom Alice, but Mel’s Diner is also the establishment that coined the phrase, “Kiss my grits!” So naturally, going for breakfast (the most important meal of the day) is key. You’ll leave the best diner in Phoenix with a belly full of syrup-covered pancakes, massive omelets, and their beloved home fries.
Arkansas: At The Corner
This self-proclaimed modern diner uses all locally sourced, fresh ingredients for their small—but diverse—breakfast and lunch menus. Sitting in ’50s-style red-and-white booths, patrons rave about the mason jar mimosas and chicken and waffles in particular. Plus, with the convenient self-serve coffee station, you’ll never have to wait on a refill of joe. On a warm day in Little Rock, you might want a cup of cold brew instead.
California: Peggy Sue’s 50’s Diner
Out in Yermo, in the middle of the blazing hot desert, Peggy Sue’s is an explosion of rainbow pastels and ’50s memorabilia. After filling up with the Buddy Holly Bacon Cheeseburger and crispy curly fries, head out back to stroll through the “dinersaur” park featuring giant metal dinosaurs scattered among ponds, fountains, and bridges. Here’s a McDonalds fact for you: The iconic restaurant originates from California.
Colorado: Moonlight Diner
The shiny chrome exterior of this boxcar-turned-diner is the first sign you’ve come to the best diner for greasy comfort food. While the burgers always get rave reviews, you have to order the location-appropriate Denver omelet stuffed with green peppers, onions, tomatoes, diced ham, and cheese. Find out the surprising birthplaces of your favorite foods.
Connecticut: O’Rourke’s Diner
All lads and lasses are welcome at this Irish-influenced eatery that dates back to 1941. Famous across Connecticut for their breakfasts (the line on Saturday morning often goes out the door), this Middletown establishment offers everything from the Dubliner omelet filled with corned beef, fingerling potatoes, and cheddar cheese to “Leprechaun Bites,” an assortment of pastries and baked goods, including fresh Irish soda bread. Would you like jam or jelly on that?
Delaware: Lucky’s Coffee Shop
Did you know that Delaware is unofficially known as the Scrapple Capital of the World? If you’ve never tried the savory breakfast meat made from pork meat and cornmeal (locals eat it with a squirt of ketchup on top), head to Lucky’s for pancakes with a side of sizzling Scrapple. At this Wilmington joint, you can turn any omelet into a breakfast hoagie too. Do you know the difference between white eggs vs. brown eggs?
Florida: Peter Pan Diner
This Florida diner—a favorite late-night hangout of famous bassist Jaco Pastorius (from Weather Report)—is a lot like its namesake, Peter Pan, in that it will never grow up. Step inside the Fort Lauderdale institution and you’ll be transported back to the ’70s with kitschy decor and, of course, a working jukebox. Everyone loves the Greek dishes, especially the chicken gyro with homemade tzatziki sauce. It’s the kind of place where the potato chips fill the whole bag.
Georgia: Home Grown Restaurant
One Comfy Chicken Biscuit, please. Okay, two. This crispy fried chicken sandwiched between a homemade buttermilk biscuit and smothered in gravy is the definition of Southern comfort food. In owner Kevin Clark’s words: “It feels like you’re at your grandmother’s house.”
Hawaii: Rainbow Drive-In
Known by Honolulu locals as Rainbow’s, this adorable drive-in has been serving up traditional Hawaiian fare for more than 50 years. Treat your taste buds to island eats with the loco moco (a burger patty atop white rice with a fried egg and brown gravy), spicy chili, or their “mix plate,” which includes juicy boneless chicken, barbecue beef, and the catch of the day. Speaking of traditional—don’t forget to check out the best traditional restaurants in each state.
Idaho: Jimmy’s Down the Street
What began as a small soda shop in Coeur d’Alene has now grown into one of the best breakfasts in the Gem State. Having been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, the real stars of the show (or rather, the menu) at Jimmy’s are the smothered chicken and dumplings and the monstrous (in size, not flavor!) caramel pecan roll.
Illinois: Charlie Parker’s Diner
Free pancakes? You can get ’em at Charlie Parker’s…but only if you finish the whole stack, and trust us, they’re about the size of your average pizza. If you aren’t up for a major carb coma next time you’re in Springfield, ask for the Horseshoe, an Illinois specialty consisting of an English muffin covered in hash browns, bacon, sausage gravy, and cheese sauce.
Indiana: Edward’s Drive-In
Every state has a dish they’re known for—and in Indiana, it’s the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich. The biggest (and best) Hoosier tenderloins can be found at Edward’s in Indianapolis, where they once made a 150-pound sandwich for the Indy 500. Pair yours with a side of greasy hand-dipped onion rings and a frosty homemade root beer. Ahhh. That’s a soda fact we can get behind.
Iowa: Bluebird Diner
Meet the spot making what they call “Midwest soul food” a very real—and delicious—thing. Made with locally sourced ingredients, what’s on the menu at this Iowa City joint is classic country cooking with an unexpected twist. Favorites include the Krakatoa omelet stuffed with bacon, jalapeños, pepper jack cheese, and cilantro-lime cream cheese.
Kansas: Jimmie’s Diner
Poodle skirts and ponytails are the uniform at Jimmie’s Diner, so you’ll feel like you’ve flashed back to the ’50s at the best diner in Wichita. With service that’s as fast as it is friendly, you can sip some bubbly from the old-fashioned soda fountain or dig into a pile of pancakes from their all-day breakfast menu.
Kentucky: Parkette Drive-In
This Lexington must-visit may be a drive-in, but you can sit at the counter inside on a retro swivel stool too. It’s home to what town residents call the real Kentucky fried chicken (golden brown, crispy, and glistening with grease) along with the popular “Poor Boy” sandwich—two beef burgers covered in American cheese, pickles, onions, tomatoes, and Parkette’s secret sauce. If you’ve been wondering if a hot dog is a sandwich, wonder no more.
Louisiana: Dodson Roadside Cafe & Creamery
Locals and visitors alike love this Dodson roadside joint. As well as amazing seafood and out-of-this-world hand-cut fries, all the food is prepared and served by students with the wonderful Louisiana Adult and Teen Challenge, which helps to rehabilitate addicts. The best diner with the best cause? Sign us up. As if that weren’t enough, they specialize in ice cream too. Perfect for a warm (and warm-hearted) Louisiana day.
Maine: Becky’s Diner
Rub elbows with off-duty fisherman at this waterfront diner, located in a quaint New England cottage in Portland. When the weather’s nice, take your Maine lobster roll out to the patio and watch the catch of the day come into the docks as you dip your fresh seafood sandwich into melted butter and sip a homemade milkshake.
Maryland: Double T Diner
Two things you should expect when you eat at one of Double T’s nine locations in Maryland: Your waitress will definitely call you “hon” at some point (it’s a Charm City thing) and you’ll have trouble choosing from the 100-plus items on the menu, from Greek specialties to all-day breakfast. The White Marsh location is a hangout spot for the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens too, so you could get an autograph or two with your hash browns.
Massachusetts: The Breakfast Club
Named after one of the most classic ’80s flicks, The Breakfast Club in Allston is a haven of nostalgia, with movie posters tacked to the wall and menu items named after the movie’s characters. Get there early (they’re only open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and dive into one of the “Library Specials” like the Basket Case which comes with two eggs, home fries, toast, meat, and two thick pancakes. This isn’t the place for a macchiato (they didn’t have them in the ’80s!), but the coffee is great nonetheless.
Michigan: Fleetwood Diner
Breakfast for dinner is always a good idea. And having it at Fleetwood Diner is an even better one. While all their breakfast eats (from hearty omelets to raisin swirl French toast dripping in syrup) get five stars, they’re really known for “Hippie Hash,” aka, what locals call the ultimate hangover cure—perfect for Ann Arbor’s many college students. It’s a pile of hash browns topped with tons of grilled veggies and feta cheese. Sounds perfect for us too.
Minnesota: Al’s Breakfast
Al’s Breakfast was formed out of an old alleyway in 1950 and has been a Minneapolis staple ever since. Since it has only 13 stools, visitors will have an intimate experience over the diner’s iconic corned beef hash and french toast. Just make sure to stop at the bank first, as this local favorite is a cash-only breakfast joint—and maybe wear comfortable shoes and plan to wait on the first-come, first-serve line.
Mississippi: Ajax Diner
Bring on the sweet tea and buttermilk cornbread. After all, Ajax has received “Best Cornbread” honors, along with a lot of other awards—and it’s one of former NFL quarterback Eli Manning’s go-to haunts in Oxford. For extra spicy Southern soul food, ask for the Hot Tamale Pie, a bowl of cheesy (and fiery) grits and pork drizzled with a Creole mustard vinaigrette. You can cool your mouth afterward with some sorbet or sherbet.
Missouri: Courtesy Diner
The Courtesy Diner may no longer be a national chain of sandwich shops (it’s now just three locations in St. Louis), but this down-home diner still has a major claim to fame. The one specialty every visitor has to take a bite of is the St. Louis Slinger—it’s a burger patty and two eggs sitting atop a bed of hash browns, smothered in chili and cheese.
Montana: Roadhouse Diner
Who knew some of the best burgers in the Midwest would be found in a log cabin in middle-of-nowhere Montana? At Roadhouse Diner in Great Falls, they grind and grill their beef patties fresh every single day—and then top them with unique add-ons like peanut butter, Serrano peppers, and yes, even Pop Rocks. And you’ll definitely want to get the crispy house-made fries with that.
Nebraska: Shirley’s Diner
Come for the retro vibes and quintessential diner grub (like the hot meatloaf sandwich), stay for the stories of the woman behind it all. Owner Denise Fackler is a bit of an Omaha legend, and for good reason—before opening the diner with her husband, she had a long career as a singer-songwriter, once duetting with John Denver and even touring Vietnam with the USO.
Nevada: Du-par’s Restaurant & Bakery
What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Which means you can (and should) order a hefty stack of Du-par’s famous fluffy pancakes, served with a thick pat of real butter and maple syrup. Located in the Suncoast Hotel and Casino on the Strip, the 24-hour joint also boasts Las Vegas’s “first” shrimp cocktail. Eat up!
New Hampshire: Red Arrow Diner
Plenty of politicians have bellied up to the counter at Red Arrow Diner in Manchester along the campaign trail. It’s also the only 24-hour joint in New Hampshire, and they’re celebrating their 100-year anniversary in 2022. Pop in for a hot cup of coffee and a couple of Dinah Fingers (the restaurant’s version of a homemade Twinkie). On your way out, if you’re a new customer, you’ll even get a ring of the bell and a souvenir sticker.
New Jersey: Tops Diner
It’s hard to pick a favorite in what’s known as the Diner Capital of the World: New Jersey. But when a place has been called the best diner in the entire country, well, we’re listening. Or rather, eating. We’ll take a Fatty Melt, which is pretty much what it sounds like: a burger between TWO grilled cheese sandwiches. The seafood section is a sure winner too, as this East Newark diner uses fresh fish, clams, and more. Seeing as you’re in New Jersey, it’s a great time to find out who invented pizza too.
New Mexico: 66 Diner
On the side of Route 66 lies a blast from the past, illuminated by rainbow neon signs. Pull over to check out the old Plymouth cars, order one of 66 Diner’s gut-busting Blue Plate Specials, or better yet, step up to the counter for an over-the-top milkshake. The Albuquerque joint’s original Pink Cadillac flavor (strawberry ice cream and Oreo cookies) is a must. Do you know who invented ice cream?
New York: Ellen’s Stardust Diner
How can you be surrounded by singing servers and strands of confetti and not be happy? But the joyful atmosphere of Ellen’s in the Big Apple isn’t the only perk—the Broadway landmark also offers an extensive list of drool-worthy dishes. Of course, they’re all aptly named, like Mamma Mia Meatloaf, Love Me Tenders, and Joseph and the Technicolor Bagel.
North Carolina: Midnight Diner
When you think of comfort food, you think of the South. And if you live in North Carolina, you think of Midnight Diner in Charlotte. Take a trip back in time with the checkerboard floors and red vinyl booths while you nosh on their legendary fried chicken and waffles and big buttermilk biscuits dipped in sausage gravy. North Carolina is also famous for its vinegar-based BBQ.
North Dakota: Kroll’s Diner
Forget the Greek goodies—at Kroll’s, it’s all about traditional German cooking (mixed in with American classics, of course). Call up your Fargo friends and tuck into a bowl of this diner’s award-winning knoephla soup, a creamy concoction dotted with doughy dumplings. You won’t wait long, either—their motto is “sit down and eat!” so you can expect speedy service.
Ohio: Fred’s Diner
Any place that considers a “side” of bacon as seven meaty slices is a win in our book. That’s Fred’s for you, where the food is delicious (call ahead for Fred’s Famous Chicken Dumpling Soup) and the walls are covered in local Akron history. Bonus: Nothing on the menu costs more than $15, and most items are under $10. But don’t expect anything fancy—it’s definitely a no-frills kind of place.
Oklahoma: Sid’s Diner
One thing you probably didn’t know that Oklahoma was famous for? The onion burger. You can taste this regional cuisine (a burger with thinly sliced Spanish yellow onions pressed on top and cooked until crisp) at Sid’s in El Reno. The owner came up with the recipe back in the Depression when onions were cheaper than meat and he wanted a way to make burgers taste better without spending more. Just be prepared to wait—the line is often out the door!
Oregon: Original Hotcake & Steak House
Not to be confused with IHOP, this breakfast mainstay in Portland is where you can satisfy your pancake craving any hour of the day or night. The portions are plentiful, so come hungry—the piles of soft, fluffy hotcakes soaked in homemade maple syrup will melt in your mouth. Work it off afterward with some of the best apple picking in every state.
Pennsylvania: Neptune Diner
For a taste of that homestyle Pennsylvania Dutch cooking, slide into a booth at the Neptune Diner in Lancaster, the heart of Amish country. It may have its own spot on the Travel Channel, but the family-owned restaurant has stuck to its roots and continues to offer crowd-pleasers like the Meatloaf Stack, a chunk of meatloaf atop mashed potatoes and adorned with mushrooms, crispy onion rings, cheddar cheese, and gravy.
Rhode Island: Modern Diner
It doesn’t get more iconic than this railcar joint, nestled in the birthplace of the very first diner in America—Pawtucket. Their popular breakfast plate, the Custard French Toast, was named Food Network’s “Best Diner Dish in America.” Fun fact: The recipe was actually was created by accident, when the owner made too much vanilla pudding and decided to serve it on thick slices of toast instead, and the rest was history.
South Carolina: Early Bird Diner
The early bird gets the worm—and the crave-worthy chicken and waffles topped with either mushroom sage gravy or lavender honey at this Charleston Lowcountry establishment. With a rotating customer base of regulars who stop in every day, it’s obvious that this is the spot to be for breakfast, dinner, and any meal in between. While you wait for your food, take a peek at the artwork from up-and-coming Charleston artists hung on the walls, then check out the strangest food laws in every state.
South Dakota: Phillips Avenue Diner
When you need a juicy burger or creamy mac and cheese on a rail (that’s “fast,” in diner speak), hit up Phillips Avenue Diner in Sioux Falls. Once a silver airstream and now a brick-and-mortar restaurant, it has everything you look for in a greasy spoon: friendly waitresses, ample portions, and decadent desserts (we’ll take a chocolate shake, please).
Tennessee: Mel’s Diner
Come at the right time and you might see Mel himself slinging burgers on the grill or cranking up the jukebox at this family-friendly hot spot in Pigeon Forge. For a true ’50s experience, take your pick of one of the throwback-themed entrees like Dawn’s Hand-Breaded Catfish or Grandpappy’s Pot Roast. Save room for one of their famous banana splits at the end! Now that’s a clever use for a banana.
Texas: Magnolia Cafe South
Y’all come on in! That’s the spirit at Austin’s eclectic Magnolia Cafe, where all walks of life are welcome. Former President Obama even visited their now-closed Lake Austin location, And while you’ll be tempted to go for the wide variety of traditional Tex-Mex bites, like the Migas or the Three Alarm Taco covered in homemade chipotle sauce, you’ll also want to try their renowned gingerbread pancakes. Pace yourself, though: Everything’s bigger in Texas, especially the portions.
Utah: Moab Diner
The vintage paraphernalia at the Moab Diner isn’t the only thing ’50s about it—the prices are extremely cheap too. And even though it’s hot out in the Utah desert, it’s even hotter in the kitchen, where the house specialty is a signature green chili sauce. Simply ask your waitress to “smother it,” and you can get the chili on top of anything from a burrito to an omelet.
Vermont: Chelsea Royal Diner
Half of what makes a diner experience so special is the setting—and we think this 1938 railcar adorned with whimsical artwork and retro signs in West Brattleboro has just that. At Chelsea Royal, you can pick from Mexican fare to more typical blue plates and know that whatever you choose is made with local, as-fresh-as-possible ingredients.
Virginia: Pink Cadillac Diner
The pink Cadillac sitting out front of this quirky diner in Natural Bridge is enough to make any hungry passerby pull over. And fortunately, the inside is just as fun as the hot pink outside. Amid the jukebox, checkerboard tablecloths, and Elvis memorabilia, you can enjoy good food and even better prices. Between dinner and dessert, play a game on the retro pinball machines or take a pic with the giant King Kong statue.
Washington: Frank’s Diner
No ticket needed for this historic railcar-turned-restaurant in Spokane, just a big appetite. It’s best for breakfast, when the coffee—and the conversation—never stops flowing. Some of the “field-to-fork” favorites include fried green tomatoes, Joe’s Special (an omelet with spinach, ground beef, and sausage), and Great Nana’s Meatloaf Benedict with a runny yolk.
West Virginia: Grandma’s Diner
The name says it all: Grandma knows best, especially when it comes to hearty helpings and the fact that more butter is always better. Soak in the small-town vibes of Charles Town (expect some sass from your waitress) while you try to finish the signature Busti, a quadruple-layer French toast breakfast sandwich. Try a nice cup of chai tea after to wash it down.
Wisconsin: Frank’s Diner
“Order what you want, eat what you get!” That’s the slogan at Frank’s, which also happens to be the oldest lunch car diner in the country. By the way, when they say order what you want at this Kenosha institution, that should be one of the Garbage Plates, which are basically everything you’d eat for breakfast thrown together in one dish. The Full Plate has five eggs, potatoes, peppers, jalapeños, onions, and meat.
Wyoming: Johnny J’s Diner
Sometimes you just need a good hand-spun milkshake, which means you need a trip to Casper, Wyoming. Regardless of your favorite flavor or toppings, you can find some of the thickest, creamiest shakes at Johnny J’s ’50s-era soda fountain, along with malts, soda pop, and fizzy floats. You might want to look at the best ice cream in every state too.