12 Iconic Old-School Diners Across America That Will Take You Back in Time

Three Iconic Old-School Diners, USA

Cheapism/Jenn R./Hailey A./Sarah R./Yelp

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Three Iconic Old-School Diners, USA
Cheapism/Jenn R./Hailey A./Sarah R./Yelp

Retro Eats

The diner is a classic piece of American history. And while the traditional diner has all but been replaced by fast-food chains, there still remain a few die-hard examples of these nostalgic blasts from the past.

If you’re on the hunt for a hamburger with actual meat, cracked vinyl booths, dreamy ‘50s tunes, and waitresses named Flo, check out some of these classic American diners.

Cheeseburger, White Mana Diner, Jersey City, New Jersey
Joolie T./Yelp

1. White Mana Diner

Jersey City, New Jersey
While it debuted at the 1939 World’s Fair as the “diner of the future,” White Mana Diner has been serving fresh hamburgers since 1946. One of more than 500 diners that remain in New Jersey, White Mana is known for its burgers (and sells 3,000 of them a week!).

Related: The Most Charming Retro Diner in Every State

Mushroom Swiss Burger, Rudford's All-American Diner, San Diego
Jenn R./Yelp

2. Rudford's All-American Diner

San Diego

Opened in 1949, Rudford’s claim to fame was being the backdrop of a John F. Kennedy visit to San Diego. A picture of JFK with the diner in the background is featured prominently in the restaurant.

If you’re extra hungry, take the Big Nick Challenge: Finish a burger with two pounds of beef, four eggs, four ounces of hash browns, four slices of cheese, salsa, gravy, and four ounces of fries in under 30 minutes, and you’ll get your photo put on the Hall of Champions Wall. If you don’t finish, you’ll pay $20 and get your picture on the Hall of Losers Wall!

Related: The Best Hole-in-the-Wall Diner in Every State

Double Burger, Casey's Diner, Natick, Massachusetts
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3. Casey's Diner

Natick, Massachusetts

One of the oldest diners on this list, Casey’s first opened in 1890 with a horse-drawn wagon. The current building was constructed in 1922, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

At Casey’s, you can order a fried egg sandwich, grilled cheese, or hamburger, but repeat customers rave about the hot dogs.

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Strawberry Milkshake, Peggy Sue's '50s Diner, Yermo, California
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4. Peggy Sue's '50s Diner

Yermo, California

Located en route from southern California to Las Vegas, Peggy Sue’s refuses to be ignored. Surrounding the building are dozens of dinosaur statues, and the inside is a riot of 1950s memorabilia.

The menu has seen few (if any) changes since 1954. You can still get a tuna melt, hot pastrami, fried pickles, or Philly steak sandwich, but don’t miss the fountain treats and desserts. There’s the Carmen Miranda banana split, Elvis Presley shakes, and Rockin’ Robin root beer floats to choose from.

Fruit Pancakes, Old John's Diner, New York City
Tawana G./Yelp

5. Old John's Diner

New York City

Opened in 1951, Old John’s became a favorite haunt of NYC celebrities. Despite a move in 1998 and a brief closure during the pandemic, the diner maintains its appeal, with its Art Deco style and loyal staff — some of whom have worked there for 20 years or more.

Old John’s serves up the usual diner breakfast options like waffles, pancakes, and bacon and eggs, but it also appeals to modern and diverse tastes with its challah french toast, potato latkes, and cortadito coffee.

Related: The Best Delis Across America

Chocolate Shake, Dutch Mill Cafe, Tillamook, Oregon
Tatum M./Yelp

6. Dutch Mill Cafe

Tillamook, Oregon

While the Dutch Mill Cafe underwent renovations a few years ago, it’s still a classic diner that attracts locals and visitors alike. Enjoy a cone or malt at the soda fountain, or a Rat Rod burger (that’s got a five-ounce smashed patty, bacon, ham, cheese, egg, lettuce, tomato, onion, and Thousand Island dressing) with a heaping side of fries.

Chicken & Waffles, Pann's Diner, Los Angeles
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7. Pann's Diner

Los Angeles

Pann’s is an Instagrammer’s paradise, with its SoCal vibes and Googie architecture. Opened in 1958, Pann’s offers a panoply of fried treats, including fried chicken, country fried steak, fried catfish, fried pork chops, and more. And in true hipster diner style, it also serves chicken and waffles.

Related: This Diner Fries Its 'World Famous Burger' in 100-Year-Old Grease

Fish Sandwich With Fries, Olympia Diner, Newington, Connecticut
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8. Olympia Diner

Newington, Connecticut

Olympia Diner initially opened in Massachusetts as a metal, prefabricated diner before being moved to Connecticut in 1954. The diner has been the site of several movies and commercials.

Breakfast is served all day long, but for big appetites, try a sandwich platter like the corned beef or pastrami special, or the fried filet of sole sandwich.

Oakley Burger and Reuben Paired With Strawberry and Cookies and Cream Milkshakes, Oakley Diner, Oakley, Utah
Hailey A./Yelp

9. Oakley Diner

Oakley, Utah

The Oakley Diner was born as Diner #1107 in 1939 when it rolled off of the assembly line and was showcased at the New York World’s Fair. It spent time in Massachusetts and Rhode Island before making its current home in Utah in 2007.

The diner has dishes for every taste, including kids. It offers a robust 10-and-under menu for $10, with choices like mac and cheese, cheese burger, buttered pasta, grilled cheese, or chicken tenders.

Related: 15 Classic Diner Recipes You Can Recreate at Home

Menu Special, Oasis Diner, Plainfield, Indiana
Oasis Diner/Yelp

10. Oasis Diner

Plainfield, Indiana

Opened in 1954, the Oasis Diner is one of the few historical diners to remain on US 40 from Cumberland, Maryland to Vandalia, Illinois.

This diner is certainly an oasis when it comes to breakfast, but come hungry. Its Atlantic City Stuffed French Toast, Kansas City Loaded Biscuits and Gravy, and Denver Lumberjack Breakfast all require a large and empty stomach.

Fried Catfish With Sides, Florida Avenue Grill, Washington, D.C.
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11. Florida Avenue Grill

Washington, D.C.

Billed as “The Oldest Soul Food Restaurant in the World,” Florida Avenue Grill has served everyone from congressmen to garbage men since 1944.

You can get breakfast all day, including customer favorites like the fish and grits breakfast. For dinner, there are soul food faves like southern pan fried chicken, chitterlings, and barbecue pork spare ribs.

Related: The Best Spot for Comfort Food in Every State

Greek Half Chicken With Two Sides, Lester's Diner, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Barry F./Yelp

12. Lester's Diner

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Lester’s Diner has been a southern Florida favorite since 1967. Now a chain with several locations, Lester’s menu includes innovative Greek cuisine like the Greek gyro quesadilla and Greek burger.

Sandwich and a Burger With Onion Rings, Mel's Drive-In, Los Angeles
Sarah R./Yelp