The 25 Best Diners in the U.S.

Imagine trying to explain a diner to someone who’s never eaten in one. It’s like a restaurant, but not quite; like a cafe, but not quite; like a bistro; but not quite. For those who haven’t had the pleasure of plopping down on a stool at the countertop for a milkshake, here’s what makes a diner a diner: They’re inexpensive, casual, open late (often around the clock), and serve a menu chock-full of all-American classics with a side of nostalgia. That nostalgia comes from the fact that diners have been part of the American experience since the late 1800s. According to the American Diner Museum, back then, men started selling sandwiches out of horse drawn carriages, and pretty quickly, companies were manufacturing made-for-purpose modified carriages with counters and stools, so customers could eat inside. By the 1920s, the old-fashioned horse-drawn cart gave way to the railway car, and the modern-day diner was born. Throughout the decades, design in diners has followed trends. In the '50s, the space race meant neon rockets and stainless steel countertops. In the '60s, Mediterranean and neoclassical styles became popular as diners fought to maintain customers’ interest while fast food gained popularity. It clearly worked: Fast food stuck around, but diners did, too. Sure, fast food restaurants are ubiquitous and inexpensive, but so are diners. Even the predictability of fast food can’t compete. You always know what you’re getting when you pull up to the drive-thru of a chain, but diners offer similar menus everywhere, with the chance of much better food. No matter where you are, you can count on hot coffee with a tiny pitcher of milk. The menu will always be long (and arrive on your table in a folded plastic sleeve) and chances are it will include a short stack of buttermilk pancakes with a scoop of melting butter on top, chicken and biscuits, smothered in gravy, and an oversized hamburger with chunky fries and a small side salad. Whether you’ve gone for pancakes or the burger, your condiments (maple syrup and Heinz ketchup, respectively) will be sitting on the table already. Diners have cemented themselves in American culture, and these days, they’re an attraction in and of themselves. And while many are good, some are absolutely great. To determine the 25 best diners in the country, Yelp ranked businesses in the diner category, excluding large chains. “Best,” according to Yelp, is based on an algorithm that looks both at the number of reviews and star ratings. No more than two diners per state can make the list in order to ensure geographic diversity. Whether you’re sliding into a booth for breakfast or pulling off the highway for a midnight snack, keep an eye out for these excellent establishments.

01 of 25

25. Ray's Family Restaurant

Ray's Family Restaurant, Elgin, IL
Stephan P. via Yelp; Akmam S. via Yelp

Elgin, Illinois

02 of 25

24. Mom's Kitchen

Mom's Kitchen, North Bend, OR
Oh C. via Yelp; Cherie H. via Yelp

North Bend, Oregon

03 of 25

23. Iron Dog Diner

Iron Dog Diner, North Charleston, SC
Jessica T. via Yelp; Amanda W. via Yelp

North Charleston, South Carolina

04 of 25

22. Roadhouse Diner

Roadhouse Diner, Great Falls, MT
Courtesy of Roadhouse Diner via Yelp

Great Falls, Montana

05 of 25

21. The Village Diner

The Village Diner, Johnson City, NY
IrregularPant S. via Yelp; Vince T. via Yelp

Johnson City, New York

06 of 25

20. Southern Charm Cafe

Southern Charm Cafe, Cape Canaveral, FL
Jeff S. via Yelp; Tilda H. via Yelp

Cape Canaveral, Florida

07 of 25

19. Sparetime Belly & Soul

Sparetime Belly & Soul, Alexandria, KY
S B. via Yelp; David B. via Yelp

Alexandria, Kentucky

08 of 25

18. Flip it LJ Diner

Flip It LJ Diner, Washington, D.C.
C B. via Yelp

Washington, D.C.

09 of 25

17. Moose's by the Creek

Moose's by the Creek, Charlottesville, VA
Sudheer V. via Yelp; Deepa M. via Yelp

Charlottesville, Virginia

10 of 25

16. Dahlia Cafe

Dahlia Cafe, Liberty Hill, TX
Courtesy of Dahlia Cafe

Liberty Hill, Texas

11 of 25

15. SNS Diner

SNS Diner, North Las Vegas, NV
Courtesy of SNS Diner

North Las Vegas, Nevada

12 of 25

14. Jesse's Place

Jesse's Place, Panama City Beach, FL
Alicia W. via Yelp; Helena C. via Yelp

Panama City Beach, Florida

13 of 25

13. Woolworth Diner

Woolworth Diner, Bakersfield, CA
Lorena S. via Yelp; William A. via Yelp

Bakersfield, California

14 of 25

12. Wheel

Wheel, Pottsville, PA
Courtesy of Wheel

Pottsville, Pennsylvania

15 of 25

11. Welcome Diner

Welcome Diner, Phoenix, AZ
Paige T. via Yelp; Nahall K. via Yelp

Phoenix, Arizona

16 of 25

10. The Little Diner

The Little Diner, Vail, CO
T G. via Yelp; Sophia Q. via Yelp

Vail, Colorado

17 of 25

9. Liz's Where Y'at Diner

Liz's Where Y'at Diner, Mandeville, LA
Angelique R. via Yelp; Justin T. via Yelp

Mandeville, Louisiana

18 of 25

8. Jim's Deli & Restaurant

Jim's Deli & Restaurant, Brighton, MA
Erin E. via Yelp; Jennifer N. via Yelp

Brighton, Massachusetts

19 of 25

7. Carla's Cafe

Carla's Cafe, Bakersfield, CA
Alex P. via Yelp; Charles M. via Yelp

Bakersfield, California

20 of 25

6. 3 Brothers Diner

3 Brothers Diner, Grove City, OH
Jane W. via Yelp; Isac K. via Yelp

Grove City, Ohio

21 of 25

5. David's Diner

David's Diner, Springdale, PA
Matthew L. via Yelp; Joe G. via Yelp

Springdale, Pennsylvania

22 of 25

4. Krystal Jo's Diner

Krystal Jo's Diner, Flint, MI
Mich C. via Yelp; Jeffrey D. via Yelp

Flint, Michigan

23 of 25

3. The Stilly Diner

The Stilly Diner, Arlington, WA
Helen M. via Yelp; Susan C. via Yelp

Arlington, Washington

24 of 25

2. Rosy's Diner

Rosy's Diner, Escanaba, MI
Elizabeth G. via Yelp; Tom T. via Yelp

Escanaba, Michigan

25 of 25

1. Villatoro Restaurant & Cafe

Villatoro Restaurant & Cafe, Marlborough, MA
Gina M. via Yelp; Donald S. via Yelp

Marlborough, Massachusetts

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