19 All-Time Best Diner Foods in America

Diners are as American as the apple pie they so famously serve. The diner has become so popular that it’s now ingrained in American food culture. When you stop at one of these 24-hour greasy spoons, make sure to try one of these 19 staples.


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These fluffy, thin cakes that pair perfectly with eggs and bacon are a beloved breakfast staple. They come in variations like seasonal flavors, chocolate chips, fruit, or even savory options.


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Omelets come with various fillings like vegetables, meat, and cheese and are a popular breakfast or lunch. Omelets are often one of the healthier options at many diners with protein-packed eggs, as long as you decide on veggies over fatty breakfast meats and multiple cheeses.

Biscuits and Gravy

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The Washington Post says, “When it entered the culinary canon, biscuits and gravy was for the poor, working class. Pork was always the protein of the poor.” This hearty southern breakfast features warm biscuits smothered in sausage gravy and often served with eggs. Though it may be born out of necessity, buttery biscuits and the creamy sauce make it feel rich.

Eggs Benedict

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The history of this classic brunch dish with poached eggs, ham, and hollandaise sauce on an English muffin has a few theories, but it was born in New York and is now popular across the country. Eggs Benedict now comes in a wide variety beyond the Canadian bacon version and can be found with smoked salmon, crab cakes, or even fried green tomatoes.

Loaded Fries

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Easy to share or devour all on their own, fries topped with chili, cheese, onions, and sour cream are the ultimate diner comfort food. Many loaded fries have been ordered after a late night out to help sop up some of the alcohol.

Bacon Cheeseburger

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No American food list would be complete without a big, juicy cheeseburger, and to make it even more on point, a bacon cheeseburger. The bacon cheeseburger dates back to 1963. A long-time Michigan A&W franchise decided to start offering bacon on the cheeseburgers after realizing that customers were frequently asking for this add-on.


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What better way to wash down your bacon cheeseburger or Reuben sandwich than with a drink that’s also a dessert? Thick, creamy milkshakes are an iconic diner beverage. Pick between classics like chocolate and vanilla, and opt for versions that incorporate bits of candy or even boozy versions. Perfect for dipping your fries in them, too.

Hash Browns

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Everyone loves a potato. Crispy fried shredded potatoes are a popular breakfast side dish at diners across the country. They make the perfect vessel for cleaning up the last bits of egg yolk from your plate.

Reuben Sandwich

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Corned beef isn’t just for St. Patrick’s Day! The Reuben isn’t even Irish; it’s “a deeply early-20th-century American Midwestern creation, a Jewish sandwich that isn’t kosher, made by an assimilated Eastern European,” says Saveur. Enjoy corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing on rye bread any day of the week with this popular sandwich.


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A waffle is a pancake, but ‘it has pockets!’ (said with the delight of a woman finding her dress has pockets.) There is nothing better than cutting into a crispy yet fluffy waffle with pockets filled with melted butter. Waffles have even been elevated beyond butter, syrup, and fruits to now be the bed for fried chicken and hot honey.

Cinnamon Rolls

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While not generally a full meal, gooey, oversized cinnamon buns are a sweet treat for many diners. Order one to start the meal and split it with the table so as not to let the decadent pastry ruin your appetite for the rest of your meal.

Patty Melt

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Another popular burger option that’s almost exclusively found in diners is a burger patty with caramelized onions and cheese grilled between slices of bread. This burger panini of sorts is the perfect balance of greasy and meaty to satisfy the hungriest of people.


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This classic comfort food has fallen out of favor at many restaurants but still holds strong as a diner dish. Meatloaf used to be a food people prepared to help meat stretch and get more bang for their buck at the grocery store, but became a symbol of comfort and their grandma’s cooking. Diners pair this hearty dish with mashed potatoes, gravy, and green beans.


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Pie, especially apple, is the quintessential American diner dessert. And diners are known for having a variety of pies. Eater NY reminisces on walking into a diner and how most have “probably seen a vertical rotating glass case right by the front door aligned with pies and cakes.” The most common pies are apple, cherry, pecan, key lime, and a variety of cream pies like chocolate, banana cream, and coconut.

Monte Cristo

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If you can’t decide between savory or sweet, the Monte Cristo is the diner sandwich for you. A Monte Cristo sandwich is a variation of the croque monsieur but with the addition of sliced turkey, ham, and Swiss cheese. Also, this sandwich is dipped in an egg batter, like French toast, and pan-fried instead of grilled until golden brown and sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Tuna Melt

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There’s just something about a diner tuna melt. It could be the warm cheese and crunchy bread, but more likely, it’s the time the tuna salad flavors have to meld together, with the mayo and seasonings absorbing into those individual components—the celery, in particular—creating a more cohesive tuna salad experience when it has sat overnight.

Huevos Rancheros

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Not necessarily a national diner staple, but definitely noteworthy and gaining popularity around the country. This southwestern breakfast with eggs, beans, salsa, and tortillas is popular in diners in the West and Southwest.

Chicken Fried Steak

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Chicken fried steak, or country fried steak, is synonymous with diner food. This breaded, fried steak cutlet is smothered in country gravy (sometimes white, sometimes brown) and can be served with eggs for breakfast or with mashed potatoes for a dinner dish.


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Sometimes all you need is a bowl of hearty chili with toppings like cheese and onions. This iconic American staple has meat, chili powder, chopped onion, spices, and maybe some beans. Served everywhere, from upscale Tex-Mex restaurants to hot dog carts on the sidewalk, this dish is simple and incredibly satisfying on a cold, rainy day or atop loaded fries.

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