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They say corner bars, like Cheers, are happy places where everyone knows your name. The same can be said for classic diners. No fuss, no pretentiousness, nothing too fancy — just good ol’ American grub and a comfy vinyl booth to call your own. Bonus points if there’s a jukebox and a waitress named Flo. Ready to eat? Here are 7 great diners across the U.S., each with its own claim to fame.

For Route 66 Kicks: Polk-A-Dot Drive-In in Braidwood, IL
This stop on the Mother Road got its start in 1956, when the owners served lunch out of a school bus outfitted with a kitchen. Eventually it put down roots as this kitschy drive-in with tabletop jukeboxes and life-sized statues of Marilyn Monroe and Elvis outside.
Order: Cheeseburgers and shakes
222 N. Front St. (815-458-3377 or the Facebook page)

Steve Lagreca /

For Foodie Cred: Brent’s Drugs in Jackson, MI
Claim a soda fountain stool and soak up the nostalgia at what was once a neighborhood pharmacy. The chef’s table counter was the original 1946 pharmacy counter, but today the real sought-after seats are around the aqua-colored boomerang counter, where you can spoon up ice cream or eat dishes prepared by a bona fide chef (Karl Gorline from Parlor Market).
Order: The egg-and-olive sandwich and a cherry Coke.
655 Duling Ave. (601-366-3427 or the Facebook page)

Shawn Rossi /

For Hilltop Thrills: Skyline Restaurant in Portland, OR
Golden oldies jingle-jangle around you at this off-the-beaten-path classic. It’s worth the trek to the top of the West Hills to see just how much things haven’t changed since it opened in 1935. The paintings are faded, the stools a bit beaten — but the spirit is alive in the smiles of its waitstaff and the grill still fires up an amazing burger. Heads up: It’s cash only.
Order: Skyline Clam Chowder and a butterscotch sundae
1313 NW Skyline Blvd. (503-292-6727 or the Facebook page)

For Sweet History: St. Francis Fountain in San Francisco, CA
San Francisco’s oldest ice cream parlor was run by three generations of the same family from 1918 to 2000. After a brief closing, new owners gave it a modern, expanded kitchen and plenty of menu options (from spinach salad to pesto chicken sandwiches). True to its past as a confectionery, you can still find a deli case filled with old-fashioned candies for sale. Mission district hipsters abound.
Order: The Dream Shake, a Dreamsicle-like milkshake with milk, orange juice, vanilla ice cream and orange sherbet
2801 24th St. (415-826-4210 or


Orin Zebest /

 For Classic Sass: Ruth’s Diner in Salt Lake City, UT
The founder of Ruth’s was quite a character. She performed cabaret in Salt Lake City bars in the early 1900s, flipped burgers at a hamburger joint, and eventually opened this city treasure in the back of a trolley car before selling it to a local frat boy. She remained involved in the operation before passing in 1989. You can get a sense of Ruth from the photos of her on the diner’s walls, all painted a cheerful canary yellow. The menu is expansive and there are plenty of vegan options.
Order: A 3-egg omelet and OJ
4160 Emigration Canyon Rd. (801-582-5807 or


Aaron Gustafson /

For Killer Desserts: Moody’s Diner in Waldoboro, ME
Lauded by Gourmet and Saveur magazines for its walnut and whoopie pies, Moody’s is a no-frills diner that hasn’t gone unnoticed. Locals and tourists alike fill its rustic, woodsy dining room that’s just part of its greater whole on midcoast Maine. There are 18 cabins onsite for overnight stays, as well as a gift shop. So go ahead and shop, eat, sleep, repeat.
Order: Turkey and mashed potatoes. And pie … lots of pie.
1885 Atlantic Highway (207-832-7785 or


Stefan Krasowski /

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Tagged: Food & drink

Kelly Aiglon

Kelly Aiglon

Kelly Aiglon

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