The term diner has come to mean almost any inexpensive cafe that serves breakfast. But true diners are an elite class of eatery. They are mid 20th century design wonders clad in stainless steel or porcelain enamel with barrel-vault ceilings, mahogany fixtures, tiny-tile floors, and a counter outfitted with boomerang Formica. They are long and narrow because originally they were designed to be trucked from the manufacturer to their site; and if that site didn’t work out, they could be picked up and moved somewhere else. A handful of such classic beauties still exist, and many of them serve terrific food. Here are 24 Roadfood favorites where the mise-en-scène is at least as delicious as the blue-plate specials. Most are in the Northeast, where all diners were made.
Vermont's Worcester Lunch Car Company #839 (The Parkway Diner) serves four-star diner fare, including the best hot turkey sandwich and extraordinary hamburgers.
Middletown, Connecticut: O'Rourke's 1946 diner serves classic diner fare as well as seriously creative cooking from Chef Brian O'Rourke, nephew of the founder.
A bastion of Maine Yankee cooking, Moody's diner serves great muffins in the morning and such hearty fare as red flannel hash. Don't miss the maple walnut pie.
Haven Brothers is a food truck that pulls up to Providence, Rhode Island's City Hall every night about 5pm and dishes out wicked-good burgers.
In Bennington, Vermont, the Blue Benn is one of the northeast's best diners, from blue plate traditions to international exotica. Breakfast all day, natch.
A convenient diner off I-81 in Pennsylvania Coal Country, the Dutch Kitchen is a family restaurant serving hearty local fare including shoofly pie.
Worcester Diner #837 in Lebanon, New Hampshire, Four Aces serves hash house fare with a Yankee twist: big food, low prices and greasy-spoon ambiance to spare.
The Quaker is a classically configured diner for diner lovers. At breakfast, we like the cheddar omelet topped with fiery chili.
Pork roll (aka Taylor Ham) with egg and cheese is the breakfast sandwich of New Jersey, nowhere better than at the White Rose System diner.
A beautiful classic diner, Chelsea Royal serves 3 meals a day, every day, from eggs and hash browns to meat loaf, plus ice cream treats from the soda fountain.
The Summit is a handsome 1960 Swingle diner. Breakfast is fresh and generously proportioned. Pies are homemade, and are a point of pride.
Agawam is a ship-shape vintage diner on the Massachusetts North Shore featuring such hash house classics as hearty chili and double-layer banana cake.
The beautiful Sunny Day diner gets the finest vanilla available for ice cream and makes from-scratch turkey croquettes and homey gravy. A New Hampshire gem!
Laurel is a vintage Connecticut diner with terrific corned beef hash and even more terrific hash brown potatoes. Dine at the counter to see cooks perform.
Salem diner is a streamlined blue-plate restaurant in Massachusetts serving good breakfast and inexpensive square meals.
The Glider Diner of Scranton, Pennsylvania, serves fine, gravy-topped roast beef sided by mashed potatoes, plus a wonderful Italian-flavor porketta plate.
A lovely vintage Eastern Shore Virginia diner where the locals eat, The Exmore is known for seafood from the Bay and the ocean.
Florida's oldest diner, Angel's is an unrepentant hash house serving cheap eats from dawn to dark. The celebrated dishes are burgers and onion rings.
Mickey’s Dining Car in St. Paul is a stunning yellow-and-red enamel diner from 1937. Breakfast is foursquare!
Al's serves the best imaginable diner breakfast in Minneapolis's Dinkytown. Pancakes are wonderful, with or without blueberries, nuts or sweet corn niblets.
Chicago's Diner Grill started life as a pair of Evanston trolley cars. Today it's a 24/7 diner where the specialty is a slinger, especially at 2 a.m.
Inside this beautiful vintage diner, travelers and locals enjoy big, satisfying Northwest meals including Frank's six-egg King of the Road omelet.