DinerPorn

Broadway Lights Diner: Two

Kingston, NY

Your Monday night is going about normally when a friend shows up at your door unannounced. He’s been on the road for days, with an unsatisfied appetite and plenty of stories to share. You need home cooking, a comfy booth, and a good cup of coffee—so you drive to midtown and look for the neon lights.

Ellen’s Stardust Diner

New York, NY

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.

Dor-Stop Restaurant

Dormont, 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.

Tom’s Diner

Pittsburgh, PA

Tom’s is the quintessential Pittsburgh establishment: open all night, connected to a sports bar where at least one Pitt game can usually be seen, and yes, they put French fries on everything, including the sandwiches and gyros (Did you know that was a ‘burgh thing? It was a surprise to us!). But they’re not afraid to try new things, either, says manager Bridget—their huge craft beer selection and experimental new recipes like slow-cooked pot roast and fiery feta sauce is evidence of that.

Big Al’s Diner

Cleveland, OH

We couldn’t leave Cleveland without trying just one more diner. Big Al’s is as quick and no-nonsense as they come, with sneakered waitresses shuttling back and forth between tables with pots full of steaming coffee, shouting “what can I get for ya?” over the bustle of the place. What they got for us was two of their breakfast specials, which also don’t mess around—a bread-egg-meat combo never fails to satisfy.

Diner on Clifton

Cleveland, OH

The Diner on Clifton, a colorful little corner cafe with a super friendly staff, was just named the “Best Diner in Cleveland” by Scene, Cleveland’s weekly alternative newspaper. And we can totally understand why. Between the well crafted menu—think elevated comfort food like creamy homemade mac and cheese, Greek salad with crunchy pita chip croutons, and yellowfin club sandwiches—and the galaxy-themed décor, this diner was truly out of this world. (Sorry, we couldn’t resist.)

George & Sally’s Blue Moon Diner

We try not to pick favorites, but we have to say, we were especially excited for this stop. The Blue Moon Diner is an impeccably preserved and restored dining car, built in 1941 in our photographer tomsmithblog’s hometown of Paterson, NJ before spending the majority of its life in Connecticut. Now, it’s on display (and at work) at the Gilmore Car Museum in Michigan—like a historic exhibit that serves hot dogs and milkshakes.

Homer’s Cafe

Homer Glen, IL

We were excited to have the opportunity to meet up with one of our Kickstarter supporters, Margaret, at this little hidden gem of a diner just outside Chicago. Tucked away in a shopping center, Homer’s Cafe is missing the glamorous chrome and neon of some of its diner kin—but it boasts more than its fair share of tasty food and some of the warmest, friendliest people we met on our diner tour.

Lou Mitchell’s

Chicago, IL

Lou Mitchell’s is a Chicago institution—ask any local and they’ll tell you about the long lines for brunch and the basket of donut holes passed around to keep the hunger at bay. But it’s also exactly the kind of institution we love: loud and bustling, full of long tables and low counters where strangers break bread together family style, and home to enough tradition to give your grandmother a run for her money.

Diner Grill

Chicago, Illinois

One of the best things about diners is their diversity: although they’re in the same city, Diner Grill is about as far from Lou Mitchell’s as you can get. Located in a quieter, more residential neighborhood, the diner consists of a counter with a few stools where watching the cooks deftly dance around each other […]

Courtesy Diner

St. Louis, MO

The Courtesy Diner is a small family-owned local diner chain, operating three 24-hour locations in St. Louis. This location, at Laclede Station, sees primarily families—but they still serve their fair share of the late-night (or hungover-morning) St. Louis staple, the slinger, a messy and delicious pile of hashbrowns, beef, eggs, chili, and cheese.

Bon-Ton Café

Memphis, TN

The perfect way to start your day in Memphis: a table in the morning sunlight and an order of biscuits and gravy. All that and more—including legends of Elvis, friendly ghosts, tunnels leftover from Prohibition, and a clandestine blues club—can be found at the Bon-Ton Cafe.

Brent’s Drugs

Jackson, MS

Entering Brent’s Drugs is like stepping back in time. Manager Josh gave us a tour, explaining that everything, from the color scheme to the signage to the stools, has been kept as close to the original as possible. But there are two exceptions—the menu, which has been updated to include specialties like a lamb burger, and the former stock room (this was originally a pharmacy), which has been transformed into a swanky speakeasy serving up cocktails after the diner has closed.

Clover Grill

New Orleans, LA

We met up with a few NOLA locals for lunch at Clover Grill, Bourbon Street’s favorite 24-hour diner. We hear the overnight shift gets pretty rowdy, with lines out the door even after 3am—and during Mardi Gras, they get the “late-night crowd” all day long.

Big Time Diner

Mobile, AL

Owner Mitch, who hails from Michigan, was inspired by the diners of his youth, making Big Time the perfect mashup of north and south.

Diner on Abercorn

Savannah, GA

"Miss Maria," the beloved owner of The Diner on Abercorn, cut her teeth at diners in Connecticut when she first arrived to the US from Greece. That explains how she brought classic northeastern diner flavor to Savannah—combined with a hefty dose of southern hospitality. Next stop: Marietta, y'all!

Marietta Diner

Marietta, GA

With miles of neon, a crowd of hundreds, and a menu over eight pages long, this place was in a league all its own.

Early Bird Diner

Charleston, SC

Advice from a Charleston local about the Early Bird: “Chicken. Waffles. Shrimp. Grits. Those are the only four words you need to know.” We added “fried” and “pickles,” just to be safe.

City Diner

Richmond, VA

Even at 7am, this place is a party, and everyone’s invited. Insider tip: sit at the counter, make banter with the regulars and Susie and Yvonne (the waitresses who run everything), and get the Irish Benedict.

Tastee Diner

Silver Spring, MD

Nestled among towering office buildings and parking structures, this 1940s-era gem adds a bit of local flavor to a gray neighborhood. And that flavor just happens to be pancakes with maple syrup.

Sip & Bite Restaurant

Baltimore, MD

When we arrived in Baltimore we met up with our friend Ryan, who said Sip & Bite would “blow your pants off!” The food made us feel many amazing things, and the owners were more than hospitable, but we are happy to announce that our pants remained intact.

Melrose Diner

Philadelphia, PA

The second day of our adventure brought us to Philadelphia, where we got the low down from our server, Mike, and a sweet surprise. You’ll have to wait for the Diner Porn book to find out what it was!

Park West Diner

Little Falls, NJ

Our first stop on the Diner Porn USA road trip took us to the diner capital of the United States, New Jersey—the place that started it all.

Sayville Modern Diner

Sayville, NY

The Modern Diner in Sayville is a piece of history. Its retro decor boasts murals depicting ‘50s sock hops, original Lucky Strike magazine ads (Don Draper style), sparkling emerald pleather booths, and worn Formica tables.

Broadway Lights Diner

Kingston, NY

Summer’s gone, but your hunger for adventure isn’t. You wake up early Sunday and go for a drive, and on the way through the nearest city you spot a small diner. “Let’s just get something small,” you say.

Ambrosia Diner

Queensbury, NY

You see a line of people waiting inside for a table and you know it’s the weekend at the Ambrosia Diner. Located 20 miles south of Lake George, the Queen of American Lakes, multiple generations come here for the classic American breakfast.

Selena’s Diner

Tannersville, NY

Often, diners have walls filled with regional trinkets, souvenirs, and photos signed by national or local celebrities. Diners collect the small moments in your life—your old friends visiting town, your neighbors having breakfast, your friends after that wild night—and put them on display like gold medals. Individually, these everyday moments lack context, but together, they represent a much greater concept: at the diner, everyone is family.

Phoenicia Diner

Phoenicia, NY

The Catskills are known for many things: farm-fresh food, the great outdoors, and ticket-happy state troopers. But in 2012, the region gained a new icon—Phoenicia Diner. The diner is nestled in the mountains, but for the next few months, the harsh upstate winter will keep you from venturing out to explore. You’ll have to settle for the view from a diner booth.

Grazin Diner

Hudson, NY

We were in love with this place from the first moment we saw it—the building is a classic piece of 1940s Americana, complete with a chrome exterior, leather barstools, an old-fashioned soda fountain, and a jukebox. But the food is anything but old fashioned.

Saugerties Diner

Saugerties, NY

Olympic Diner

Kingston, New York

Just off the thruway at exit 19, you see a sign that says “DINER, 24 HOURS, BUSES AND TRUCKS WELCOME.” You pull in, hungry, but not expecting much besides the standard diner fare. Inside, the red pleather booths, faux hanging vines and neon lights live up to your expectations.

Gateway Diner

Highland, NY

Frank signals emphatically to one of the servers that table #9 needs service. Dressed in a black leather jacket, he directs the Gateway Diner team—the buzzing busboy, the experienced waitress, the protégé—from the center, where he keeps watch with his number two, the hostess.

Martindale Chief Diner

Craryville, NY

It’s just above freezing. You spent the afternoon traveling in the rain and you’re cold, wet, and hungry, so when you spot the five oversized neon letters at the crossroads between the Taconic Parkway and Route 23, you’re drawn like a moth to a flame.

Cook Room

Middle Island, NY

Drive down Route 25 on a chilly Sunday morning and you’ll pass a crowd of cars spilling out of a lot and parking on both sides of the road—they’re all there for The Cook Room. Past the old-school exterior, you’ll find hot coffee, warm waitresses, and fluffy, just-the-right-amount-of-sweet red velvet pancakes drenched in cream cheese frosting and maple syrup.

New POK Diner

“POK Diner,” the sign outside reads. Inside, the tiled walls and laminate countertops sparkle like a 1950s toothpaste commercial.

Eveready Diner

Hyde Park, NY

Palace Diner

Poughkeepsie, NY

Here you’ll find gleaming chrome walls, cases of fresh-baked desserts, and a dazzling retro decor. But if there is one obvious reason to choose the Palace Diner for your next meal, it’s the friendly community.

Suburban Diner

Paramus, NJ

Last October, the owners of Suburban Diner were presented with a challenge: renovate the restaurant to stand out in New Jersey, where diners are found every half mile.

Crossroads Eatery

Wayne, NJ

Every morning at 6, the retired regulars file in for breakfast and banter. As the jokes pour out, so does the freshly brewed coffee. Married couple Valerie and Steve run Crossroads together, a venture they embarked on in 1989.

Bendix Diner

Hasbrouck Heights, NJ

The Bendix Diner has a lot to brag about considering it’s wedged in the middle of a highway. Built between Route 17 North and South, the building is a perfect representation of the Art Deco style and neon signage of the 1940s.

7th Ave Diner & Donuts

Brooklyn, NY

Historic Village Diner

Red Hook, NY

Broadway Lights Diner: Two

Kingston, NY

Your Monday night is going about normally when a friend shows up at your door unannounced. He’s been on the road for days, with an unsatisfied appetite and plenty of stories to share. You need home cooking, a comfy booth, and a good cup of coffee—so you drive to midtown and look for the neon lights.

The waitress offers you water, but you only take coffee, and that makes her smile. It’s empty inside, and the decor is ambitious at best—but it’s the perfect atmosphere for catching up, isolated enough but complete access to the basics—eggs Benedict and a chicken wrap smothered with excessive portions of hollandaise and barbecue sauce, respectively.

You take a caffeine re-up and lay back against the pleather booth, wishing you had the strength to hit the dessert menu.

“Don’t even think about it,” your stomach says. It’s the feeling you wanted to have, the comfort of knowing that for now, everything is all right, and you can keep moving forward, until your next meal.

Ellen’s Stardust Diner

New York, NY

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.

Dor-Stop Restaurant

Dormont, 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.