Diner Porn documents the American diner experience through photography and written vignettes.

Why Diners?

Diners hold a special place in American culture. They are both universal and unique—though diners, as classic American “icons,” have certain standards and commonalities, each individual place has its own vibe, a real reflection of the surrounding community.

Where good people get home cooking.

Our focus is on the stories of diners and the people that patronize them. We try to highlight the best parts of the diner experience—the vintage décor, the chrome buildings, and, most importantly, the people and the communities.

Diners are “home” for thousands of others across America, and that's perhaps why this project has struck a chord with so many people—in every cup of coffee, stack of pancakes, or ice cream sundae, readers can find a bit of themselves.

When we asked 11-year-old Sasha to meet us at her favorite diner in her hometown of New York City, she responded without hesitation: Ellen’s Stardust Diner, “home of the world famous singing waitstaff.”

At first we were skeptical—it’s glitzy and kitschy and the furthest possible thing from some of the other places we had captured. But soon we realized that if what we’re looking for is a diner that reflects its community, Ellen’s was perfect. A place like this couldn’t exist anywhere but Broadway.

Long line outside Ellen's Stardust Diner.
A neon diner clock in front of the skyscrapers of midtown Manhattan.
Neon lighting illuminates the interior.

Top left: long lines outside the diner. Top right: the diner clock positioned amidst skyscrapers of midtown Manhattan. Bottom left: Inside, neon strip lighting decorates the ceiling.

A server passes out plates with burgers and fries.
Man and woman perform a song while the diner crowd looks on.
Young woman and woman smiling together in diner booth.
Blond waitress gets a soda from the tap.
Blond waitress performs for the diner.
A plate of cheesecake with strawberry sauce.
Cook staff in hat places two plates of cheesecake with strawberry sauce on the counter.
Overhead shot of a diner table with breakfast.
Dor-Stop Restaurant
Pittsburgh, PA

After describing these pancakes (or, as charismatic owner Vicki calls them, “hotcakes”) to a friend upon our return to New York—richly sweet and spicy, dense but melt-in-your-mouth, stuffed with warm gooey cinnamon apples and drenched in butter, so delicious and moist that maple syrup is not a requirement but merely a bonus—she responded that she couldn’t die happy until she tried them. And let us tell you, from experience? She’s not exaggerating.

Awning reads
Kitchen staff working behind the grill.
Cook works behind the griddle.

Top left: home cooking awning. Top right: One half of the kitchen team powders pancakes. Bottom left: The other half of the kitchen team reads off the next order.

A cook shakes cinnamon over a pancake on the griddle.
Plate of pancakes with a dollop of butter.
Close-up shot of pancakes.
Overhead shot of a diner table with breakfast.
A bite of pancakes on the end of a fork.
Overhead shot of a diner table with breakfast.
Woman takes an iPhone photo of the Dor-Stop Restaurant exterior.