Most Iconic Diner in Every State

Most Iconic Diner in Every State

What is a diner, and how is it distinguished from a café or an old-style coffee shop? There’s no definitive answer, though according to diner historian Richard J. S. Gutman, author of “American Diner Then and Now” and other works on the subject, a diner is a “friendly place, usually mom-and-pop with a sole proprietor, that serves basic, home-cooked, fresh food, for good value.”

The original diners were horse-drawn lunch wagons, which began appearing on the East Coast in the 1870s. Some of these were elaborated into restaurants on wheels, complete with counters and bathrooms, and by the 1910s, they began to take root as permanent structures — some by repurposing railway cars, a phenomenon that gave many early 20th-century diners their elongated shape, whether or not they’d ever run on tracks.

The next stage was prefab structures, usually with stainless steel siding and brightly colored booths, that could be trucked around the country — and numerous diners got set up in one place and then later moved in their entirety to a new location, often several states away.

The 1930s and ’40s were a golden age for diners — many of them grew up along the fabled transcontinental Route 66 — and by the 1950s, there were roughly 6,000 of them around the country, with the majority being on the East Coast. Depending on what you consider to be a diner, there are probably now about 2,000 still in existence. At last count, some 600 of those were in New Jersey, the nation’s undisputed diner capital. (Check these vintage photos of diners through the years.)

To determine the most iconic diner in every state — the one that best typifies the diner genre — 24/7 Tempo reviewed diner listings from numerous food and regional tourism sites. Diner chains, though they are sometimes very good, were eliminated in favor of more traditional places.

Some of the diners on our list have limited menus, while others offer scores of choices. Many of these places serve only breakfast and lunch (with breakfast dishes usually available into the afternoon). Some provide dinner, too, however — and some have bars attached or at least serve beer and wine, though alcohol is not part of the traditional diner experience.

Some diners have changed with the times, offering such modern dishes as avocado toast and burrata and/or providing health-conscious options. Nonetheless, they all also serve exactly the kinds of things you’d expect from a diner — such standards as pancakes, omelets, burgers, meatloaf, and fried seafood, as well as pies and milkshakes.

Here is the most iconic diner in every state.

Alabama: Payne’s Soda Fountain & Sandwich Shop

Source: Courtesy of Amand M. via Yelp

The interior at Payne's.

  • Location: Scottsboro
  • Founded: 1869 (counter installed 1939)
  • Sample menu items: BBQ ham sliders, Lisa’s grilled cheese

Alaska: The White Spot Café

Source: Courtesy of White Spot Cafe via Yelp

The White Spot Cafe storefront.

  • Location: Anchorage
  • Founded: 1959
  • Sample menu items: Blueberry hotcakes, halibut sandwich

Arizona: Delgadillo’s Snow Cap Drive-In (seasonal)

Source: Courtesy of Erika T. via Yelp

The colorful interior of Delgadillo's.

  • Location: Seligman
  • Founded: 1953
  • Sample menu items: Chorizo burger, hot fudge malt

Arkansas: Old South Restaurant

Source: Courtesy of Morgan W. via Yelp

Vintage neon signage for the Old South.

  • Location: Russellville
  • Founded: 1947
  • Sample menu items: Butterfly pork chop breakfast plate, fried breaded chicken livers with white gravy

California: Rae’s

Source: Courtesy of Rachel C. via Yelp

Cereal boxes at Rae's.

  • Location: Santa Monica
  • Founded: 1958
  • Sample menu items: Denver sandwich, patty melt

Colorado: King’s Chef Diner (two locations)

Source: Courtesy of Marguerite G. via Yelp


  • Location: Colorado Springs
  • Founded: 1956
  • Sample menu items: Breakfast burrito, Sam’s Special (burger with shaved Black Forest Ham and cheddar

Connecticut: Orem’s Diner

Source: Courtesy of Catherine R. via Yelp

Mushroom burger with sweet potato fries at Orem's.

  • Location: Wilton
  • Founded: 1921
  • Sample menu items: Brioche French toast, mushroom burger deluxe

Delaware: Helen’s Famous Sausage House

Source: Courtesy of Jeannine S. via Yelp

The exterior at Helen's.

  • Location: Smyrna (second location in Newark)
  • Founded: 1983
  • Sample menu items: Scrapple with eggs, toast, and home fries; hot sausage sandwich

Florida: Angel’s Dining Car

Source: Courtesy of Carlos C. via Yelp

  • Location: Palatka
  • Founded: 1932
  • Sample menu items: “For Real Men Only 1 lb. Burger,” clam strip basket

Georgia: The Hole in the Wall

Source: Courtesy of Raul G. via Yelp

The exterior of Hole in the Wall.

  • Location: Blairsville
  • Founded: 1931
  • Sample menu items: N.Y.-style French toast cheesecake stuffed with blueberries, Malibu chicken sandwich grilled with ham and Swiss

Hawaii: Boots & Kimo’s Homestyle Kitchen

Source: Courtesy of Ren S. via Yelp

A welcome sign at Boots and Kimo's.

  • Location: Kailua (Oahu)
  • Founded: 1994
  • Sample menu items: Banana pancakes with Kimo’s macadamia nut sauce, kalua pig eggs Benedict

Idaho: Merritt’s Family Restaurant

Source: Courtesy of Michael J. via Yelp

A sign with an alternative name for Merritt's.

  • Location: Boise
  • Founded: 1975
  • Sample menu items: Smoky chicken omelet with mushrooms, tomatoes, and cheese; homemade-scone sundae

Illinois: Charlie Parker’s Diner

Source: Courtesy of Chris K. via Yelp


  • Location: Springfield
  • Founded: 1992
  • Sample menu items: Charlie’s Famous Giant (16″) Pancake, breaded walleye sandwich on rye

Indiana: Oasis Diner

Source: Courtesy of Oasis Diner via Yelp

The Oasis burger.

  • Location: Plainfield
  • Founded: 1954
  • Sample menu items: Indianapolis Country Fried Breakfast (Fried tenderloin or chicken breast with eggs, home fries. and toast), the Oasis Burger (double burger with pulled pork, bacon, BBQ sauce, coleslaw, pickles and cheddar)

Iowa: Jerry’s Main Lunch

  • Location: Burlington
  • Founded: 1946
  • Sample menu items: Country-fried steak and eggs, elk burger

Kansas: Old Mill Tasty Shop

Source: Courtesy of Greta M. via Yelp

The Old Mill Tasty Shop exterior.

  • Location: Wichita
  • Founded: 1932
  • Sample menu items: Smoked turkey breast sandwich, hot fudge brownie delite

Kentucky: Rudy’s on the Square

Source: Courtsy of Andrea E. via Yelp

The custom condiments tray at Rudy's.

  • Location: Murray
  • Founded: 1936 (reopened 2017)
  • Sample menu items: Thick-sliced bologna sandwich, fried oyster dinner

Louisiana: Clover Grill

Source: Courtesy of Charlie E. via Yelp

Orders ready to be served at Clover Grill.

  • Location: New Orleans
  • Founded: 1939
  • Sample menu items: Biscuits and gravy, jalapeño and cheese corn dog

Maine: Brunswick Diner

Source: Courtesy of RunAway B. via Yelp

The Brunswick Diner exterior.

  • Location: Brunswick
  • Founded: 1946
  • Sample menu items: Sinatra (slow-cooked beef brisket hash with eggs, home fries, and toast), lobster BLT

Maryland: Pete’s Grille

Source: Courtesy of Solan W. via Yelp

Pete's Grille on the corner.

  • Location: Baltimore
  • Founded: 1958
  • Sample menu items: Creamed chipped beef with home fries, grilled cheese and bacon

Massachusetts: Casey’s Diner

Source: Courtesy of Jeff J. via Yelp

The exterior of Casey's Diner.

  • Location: Natick
  • Founded: 1927 (current location)
  • Sample menu items: Egg salad melt, chopped ham and cheese sandwich

Michigan: Fleetwood Diner

Source: Courtesy of Christopher F. via Yelp

Inside the Fleetwood DIner.

  • Location: Ann Arbor (second location in Lansing)
  • Founded: 1949
  • Sample menu items: Greek breakfast (gyro meat, eggs, hash browns, and toast), ribeye steak dinner

Minnesota: Bandbox Diner

Source: Ccourtesy of Allison J. via Yelp

Closed since 2020, the Band Box reopened in the fall of 2023.

  • Location: Minneapolis
  • Founded: 1939
  • Sample menu items: Breakfast burger, tuna melt (fresh tuna)

Mississippi: Abe’s Grill

Source: Courtesy of Elice M. via Yelp


  • Location: Corinth
  • Founded: 1974
  • Sample menu items: Chocolate gravy and biscuit, hickory-smoked pit-cooked pork Bar-B-Q on a bun,

Missouri: Casper’s

Source: Courtesy of Bruce M. via Yelp

The interior at Casper's.

  • Location: Springfield
  • Founded: 1909
  • Sample menu items: Frito pie, deep-fried “mac & chz”

Montana: Betty’s Diner

Source: Courtesy of Betty's Diner via Yelp

A sign for Betty's.

  • Location: Poison
  • Founded: 2009
  • Sample menu items: German sausage and eggs, fish and chips

Nebraska: Hi-Way Diner

Source: Courtesy of Linda P. via Yelp

Condiments on an old stove at the Hi-Way.

  • Location: Lincoln
  • Founded: 1987
  • Sample menu items: Eggs Benedict, roast beef dinner

Nevada: Vickie’s Diner

Source: Courtesy of Jennifer P. via Yelp

Looking out from Vickie's.

  • Location: Las Vegas
  • Founded: circa 1955 (current location since 2020)
  • Sample menu items: Select liver steak and three eggs, Wisconsin burger deluxe (with extra cheese)

New Hampshire: Littleton Diner

Source: Courtesy of Chris N. via Yelp

The Littleton's acclaimed clam chowder.

  • Location: Littleton
  • Founded: 1930 (new building in 1940)
  • Sample menu items: Three Littleton buckwheat pancakes, homemade clam chowder

New Jersey: Tops Diner

Source: Courtesy of Ronald K. via Yelp

The streamline-look exterior at Tops Diner.

  • Location: East Newark
  • Founded: 1942
  • Sample menu items: Cheesesteak egg rolls, steak tips with mashed potatoes

New Mexico: Lindy’s Diner

Source: Courtesy of John M. via Yelp

The hot turkey sandwich at Lindy's.

  • Location: Albuquerque
  • Founded: 1929
  • Sample menu items: Pickle fries with ranch dressing, hot turkey sandwich

New York: Bob’s Diner

Source: Courtesy of Daniel P. via Yelp

The exterior at Bob's.

  • Location: Bainbridge
  • Founded: 1935
  • Sample menu items: Ham and cheese omelet, blue cheese bacon burger

North Carolina: Snappy Lunch

Source: Courtesy of Michelle R. via Yelp

Snappy Lunch advertises its specialty.

  • Location: Mt. Airy
  • Founded: 1923
  • Sample menu items: Breaded cheeseburger, “World Famous Pork Chop Sandwich”

North Dakota: Darcy’s Café

Source: Courtesy of Marie F. via Yelp

  • Location: Grand Forks
  • Founded: circa 1959
  • Sample menu items: Corned beef hash with two eggs, hash browns or French fries, and toast or pancakes; clubhouse sandwich

Ohio: Hamburger Inn Diner

Source: Courtesy of Hamburger Inn Diner via Yelp

One of the Diner's World Famous Mighty Cinnamon Rolls.

  • Location: Delaware
  • Founded: 1932
  • Sample menu items: “World Famous Mighty Cinnamon Rolls,” garlic burger

Oklahoma: Clanton’s Café

Source: Courtesy of Gordo R. via Yelp

The exterior at Clanton's.

  • Location: Vinita
  • Founded: 1927
  • Sample menu items: Belgian waffle, chicken and dressing

Oregon: White’s Restaurant

Source: Courtesy of Amanda S. via Yelp

A two-egg breakfast plate at White's.

  • Location: Salem
  • Founded: 1936
  • Sample menu items: Cheesy bacon potato cakes, Maynard’s meatloaf

Pennsylvania: Kuppy’s Diner

Source: Courtesy of Jeremy W. via Yelp

A sign for Kuppy's.

  • Location: Middletown
  • Founded: 1933
  • Sample menu items: Texas French toast, Monte Cristo sandwich

Rhode Island: Haven Brothers Diner

Source: Courtesy of Al L. via Yelp

Haven Brothers shows its lunchwagon roots.

  • Location: Providence
  • Founded: 1893 (as a horse-drawn lunch wagon)
  • Sample menu items: Crispy Buffalo chicken sandwich, bacon and cheese fries

South Carolina: Summer’s Restaurant

Source: Courtesy of Nancy C. via Yelp

The Tom burger with fries.

  • Location: Newberry
  • Founded: 1954
  • Sample menu items: Tom burger, flounder dinner

South Dakota: Phillips Avenue Diner

Source: Courtesy of Vivian S. via Yelp

The Phillips Avenue Diner exterior.

  • Location: Sioux Falls
  • Founded: 1996
  • Sample menu items: Huevos ranchero burrito, farmer’s country Cobb salad

Tennessee: The Arcade Restaurant

Source: Courtesy of Sari Marissa G. via Yelp

The counter at the Arcade.

  • Location: Memphis
  • Founded: 1919
  • Sample menu items: Sweet potato pancakes, pepperoni pizza

Texas: Original Market Diner

Source: Courtesy of Rachel May T. via Yelp

The Original Market Diner's classic lemon meringue pie.

  • Location: Dallas
  • Founded: 1954
  • Sample menu items: Chili cheese enchiladas, classic lemon meringue pie

Utah: Ruth’s Diner

Source: Courtesy of Joyce J. via Yelp

Outside Ruth's Diner.

  • Location: Salt Lake City
  • Founded: 1930
  • Sample menu items: Blueberry strussel French toast, Ruth’s chocolate malt pudding

Vermont: The Blue Benn Diner

Source: Courtesy of Ryan M. via Yelp

The Blue Benn on a winter's day.

  • Location: Bennington
  • Founded: 1974
  • Sample menu items: Tofu scramble, spinach melt

Virginia: The Hillsville Diner

Source: Courtesy of Rick S. via Yelp

The exterior of Hillsville Diner.

  • Location: Hillsville
  • Founded: 1946 (current location)
  • Sample menu items: Mag Bowl (grits with shredded cheese, two eggs, and bacon), stewed beef with two vegetables

Washington: Joe Brown’s Café

Source: Courtesy of Alen K. via Yelp

Photos on the wall at Joe Brown's Café.

  • Location: Vancouver
  • Founded: 1932
  • Sample menu items: Strawberry crêpe with whipped cream, French dip sandwich

West Virginia: Betty’s Restaurant

Source: Courtesy of Allison S. via Yelp

Breakfast offerings at Betty's.

  • Location: Shepherdstown
  • Founded: 1959
  • Sample menu items: Deep-fried dill pickles with ranch dressing, Salisbury steak

Wisconsin: Frank’s Diner

Source: Courtesy of Santino C. via Yelp

The front of Frank's Diner.

  • Location: Kenosha
  • Founded: 1926
  • Sample menu items: Frank’s Garbage Plates (eggs, breakfast meat, cheese, homemade toast), Spam sandwich

Wyoming: Luxury Diner

Source: Courtesy of Ann W. via Yelp

Inside the Luxury Diner.

  • Location: Cheyenne
  • Founded: 1926
  • Sample menu items: Red or green chili cheeseburger, chicken club salad
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