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The Best Diners In New England
the birthplace of diners, New England carries that tradition proudly
with some of the best diners in the United States
Peterboro Diner in Peterborough, N.H.
Story and photos, unless otherwise noted, by Eric Hurwitz. Article
updated on 2/24/2019.
England travel article with your friends...
Best Diners in Connecticut
Best Diners in Maine
Best Diners in Massachusetts
Best Diners in New Hampshire
Best Diners in Rhode Island
Best Diners in Vermont
Newest Diner Posts:
Yankee Diner, Charlton, Mass.
Miss Wakefield Diner, Sanbornville, N.H.
Or, start right here over a cup of coffee and read them all...
The neon moon eventually gave way to a muted stainless steel sky color
and then bright sunshine where America the Beautiful woke up in all its
spirited glory to start another day at a local diner that, given its
24/7 business hours, never stopped working.
At the Patriots Diner in Woonsocket, Rhode Island -- where bright
lights and clanging of plates from inside pleasantly contrasted with
the morning’s stillness -- one could witness scenes of small town
America collectively beginning its morning at this bustling diner. With
local conversations flowing as freely as the coffee and sometimes
sizzling as much as the bacon, it was apparent at the Patriots Diner
that a retro sense of community and a connection to our neighbors never
really went away in a world often perceived today as too fast-paced,
conflicted and impersonal.
Chefs and cooks showcased their occupational skill and skillet set
through offering huge portions of comfort food classics, while no-
nonsense but friendly waitresses served as unofficial family to
customers with their welcoming ways. Locals -- many with townie and
patriotic tendencies -- interacted through hallowed face-to-face spoken
words instead of through hollowed technological devices. Truck drivers
laid their weary bodies down at the counter -- like another old school
country song in the making -- after, presumably, punishing long days
and nights of life on the road. White collar America -- some as
business travelers walking briskly over from the adjacent hotel -- took
that well-deserved break from another anticipated day in the rat race
to lighten the day with some home-cooked food. Landscapers and
construction workers with clean hands, for now, were hungry,
immediately decisive on what to order, and needing to get to work soon.
They wasted no time ordering food while showing a close camaraderie as
if they were brothers.
You see, there’s really nothing like eating at a good old-fashioned
diner when traveling the small towns, back roads and big cities in New
England. The experience, quite simply, brings a wonderful slice of
American tradition to the senses -- and taste buds -- that can only be
fully realized by frequenting these local treasures.
Diners are best known for their history, tradition, an extensive menu
selection, large portions of comfort foods at fair prices, quick
service, oak and mahogany booths, counter with stools, jukeboxes, a
stainless steel exterior, and plenty of neon. Not all diners possess
all of those elements, but the ones included in this book make the
grade by carrying on the wonderful, traditional no-frills diner spirit
and hearty meals that made these places great in the first place.
Grilled reuben from the Blue Plate Diner in
Additionally, diners often seem more authentically populist in nature
than most politicians, not caring about your financial, political or
economic beliefs -- the owners and staff are almost always just real
people wanting you to be part of their “family.” While the
proverbial, salt-of-the-earth waitress asking “What do you want, hon?”
is often associated with diners, the welcoming nature takes on,
obviously, many other forms of sincere words beyond that famous phrase.
Diners, as local landmarks and unofficial community meeting places,
proudly stand as the ultimate unpretentious places to have the
next best thing to a homemade meal -- often better, if a talented chef
works on the premises. This is an important distinction that sets
diners apart: you don’t come here for the fancy decor, so the food
better be good!
Clearly, many factors create a true diner but in a nutshell, "diner" is
a derivative of "dining car" and “diner designs reflected the styling
that manufacturers borrowed from railroad dining cars,” according to
the Rhode Island-based American Diner Museum web site
(http://www.americandinermuseum.org/history.php). Diners almost always
feature a counter, stools and a food preparation or service area along
the back wall, states the American Diner Museum, which by the way,
“consider(s) every diner to be a living museum.”
Hollywood, talented artists, and general pop culture have also often
portrayed the classic American diner in movies like Diner (1982) and
Grease (1978), television
shows like Happy Days
(1974-1984) and Alice
(1976-1985) and the restaurant hangout in Seinfeld (1989-1998). Norman
Rockwell’s 1958 painting The Runaway,
features a young boy and a caring
highway patrolman, at the counter of a diner in the Berkshires in
Western Massachusetts (more on that later). All are worth a look, no
doubt, but the best way to get the feel of a diner in going to one and
soaking in the grand, but informal experience. New England has no
shortage of great diners, as you will discover in this book.
All walks of life gather at Joe's Diner in Lee, Mass.
Sometimes a part of the work day when traveling New England for my
travel business, VisitingNewEngland.com, I often sit alone at a diner
reading the local newspaper. That isolationist presence -- contrasting
with the community feel of a diner -- changes in a hurry, though. Often
my attention will eventually shift from reading the bad news in the
paper to soaking in the diners’ happy, “good news” atmosphere where I
revel in hearing, and sometimes take part in the salt-of-the-earth,
real conversations amongst almost always hard-working people and
content retirees. Although each diner is distinct in its history,
personality and food offerings, the common theme of comfort,
friendliness and proud tradition happily takes me away from a frantic,
societal hamster wheel world of cell phones, laptops, patented city and
suburban road rage, and man-made noise (construction, trucks, mowers,
leaf blowers, cable news “I’m right, you’re wrong” discussions -- you
get the picture).
Diners might be considered by some a thing of the past, but they are
also a dining-out hope of the future as locally-owned and operated
small businesses offer satisfying meals, prices kind to those on a
budget and a priceless, down-to-earth style of service that sure feels
different from the generic, chain restaurant presentations. People also
seem to be returning to the basics with their lifestyles by rejecting
the superficial, faceless, expensive and shallow, and instead
embracing things that really matter.
Illuminated Red Wing
Diner sign at twilight in Walpole, Massachusetts.
Diners really do matter to locals, travelers and any walk of life as a
place to connect with our great country -- you’ll see the most
wonderful cross section of customers at these dining destinations. New
Englanders and outsiders, to this very day, form lines out the door at
places like the Modern Diner in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, 50s Diner in
Dedham, Massachusetts, and the Maine Diner in Wells, Maine. Its great,
too, seeing so many college students frequenting diners such as Kelly’s
Diner near Tufts University in Medford and Somerville, Massachusetts,
Wilson’s Diner in Waltham, Massachusetts, close to Bentley University,
and O’Rourke’s Diner in Middletown, Connecticut, near Wesleyan
University. This is a good sign for the future of small business in
It’s always a wonderful scene seeing America go out to breakfast and
supporting a small business right at the start of the day. I’d imagine
it gives diner owners hope about their modest, humble businesses with
customers providing a second ray of sunshine to complement the rising
of the early morning sun.
Many diner purists will only go to the traditional, authentic
dining car diners that have roots going back to the early 20th century,
although the blueprint for a diner was a horse-drawn wagon created
in Providence, Rhode Island, by Walter Scott in 1872. Charles
Palmer received the first patent (1891) for the diner building "fancy
night cafes" and "night lunch wagons" in the Worcester, Massachusetts,
area until 1901. In 1906, Philip Duprey and Irving Stoddard started the
Worcester Lunch Car Company, shopping railroad-style dining cars all
over the Eastern Seaboard. These are the type of diners that
historians deem as “classic” and “authentic.” So, the diner concept
actually all started here in New England!
While a historic diner that serves great food is always the preferred
option, I am also personally open-minded to diners created in the
modern age that properly pay homage and respect to old-time diners by
employing all the necessary criteria -- that is, with enough neon,
chrome, down-to-earth service and ample food portions to make the
experience worthwhile. If the mission is sincere and built out of pride
of ownership, then it's fine by me.
A few relatively modern New England diners that mimic the look of a
retro diner are Dave's Diner in Middleboro, Massachusetts (built as a
dining car in Florida in the 1990s), and the Vernon Diner in Vernon,
Connecticut (a former Howard Johnson’s). They both turn out great
food and a quintessential American diner experience and, by the way,
are superior to those fast food chains that, starting in the 1950s,
tried to outdo the local diners with their ultra convenience and
mammoth advertising budgets. Turns out that the diners often got it
right in the first place, turning out a product far superior to those
fast food destinations. There's no replacing authenticity, including
the comfort foods.
With all that said, however, I do like the look of the Worcester Lunch
Car structures the best -- they were made in my native state and have a
great historical look. Whether these Worcester Dining Cars offer great
food, however, is another story so in the whole scheme of things, much
of the experience when looking for a quality diner comes down to great
food matched with a nice diner vibe. There’s really no point in
dismissing a diner just because it doesn’t meet certain historical
criteria. A good diner is a good diner, period! What a successful diner
achieves, ultimately, is priding itself on
being “local” and going beyond the fast food chains by “keeping it
"If I want fabricated food, I go to McDonald's and if I want it
straight from the heart, I come here," said Jim MacNeill, general
manager at the Maine Diner in Wells, Maine. "Great chefs create food
with a vision instead of creating food to make money. We're geared not
to make money, but to make great food."
From long-time positive local reputations to national media coverage,
some New England diners have become deservedly famous. Let’s not
forget, however, about the “hidden gem” diners, as many of these
locally well-known, but unfamiliar to those outside the area eateries
are often just as good as the diners that get seem to get all the
press. In this book, I will cover both the famous and not-so-famous --
sharing with you some of the popular diners’ awards, as well as
explaining why you should try the off-the-beaten-path diners when in
As an added positive experience, diners often exhibit a great sense of
folksy humor and bad puns to brighten the day. The Tilt’n Diner in
Tilton, New Hampshire, had a sign that is a takeoff the the Elton
John/Kiki Dee song, Don’t Go Breaking My Heart: Don’t go bacon my
heart/I couldn’t if I fried.” Then there’s the t-shirt for sale
from Carl’s Oxford Diner in Oxford, Massachusetts: “Oxford Diner,
Birthplace of Cholesterol!” The Wheelhouse Diner in Quincy,
Massachusetts, has a gem: “Waffles are just pancakes with abs,” with a
cartoon waffle looking like Arnold. Moody’s Diner in Waldoboro, Maine,
offers a “Moody Person” t-shirt for sale. Carl's Oxford Diner also lets
you know how they feel if you can't finish one of their big meals by
writing a certain message of the take home container...
The result of not finishing a meal at Carl's Oxford Diner.
Some friends have asked me how I decided the criteria for “the best of
list” in this book. Well, I went by personal feelings and observations
to determine which places felt like the best. Some of the much-hyped
diners weren't all that good and some of the unknowns, fantastic.
Initially, I was actually a little uncomfortable using the word "best"
as it is so subjective. I tried to tell a story of each diner as
authentically and honestly as I possible. I felt that any book with a
"best" theme could only be effective if only written straight from the
heart. Often, you know right away that a diner is going to be a special
place from one’s own personal feelings where, at the moment, the heart
and mind say, “This place is the best!” To draw an analogy, it’s kind
of like in the TV show, The Voice
(the popular American reality
television singing competition on NBC) when a judge turns his or her
chair upon hearing the first few words sung by a contestant. Some have
it, some don’t. A few of these places I hadn’t been to in quite some
time -- long before I ever thought about writing such a book -- but the
wonderful first impression and overall experience stuck in the mind
like a best friend. And that’s ultimately what a diner should be,
like a best friend.
Some readers might be surprised if a beloved local diner didn’t make
the final cut here. This could mean three things: either I didn’t
care too much for the diner, more visits are needed to better ascertain
the quality, or I haven’t been yet. This is just the beginning of the
diner journey and I can hardly wait to share more with you in updated
versions of this book.
Without further ado, let’s start the New England diner journey right
Best Diners in Connecticut
The Olympia Diner is a landmark in Newington, Conn.
There's no mistaking the Olympia Diner as an authentic diner with its
stainless steel look and a huge diner neon sign perching above the
structure. There's also no mistaking the great diner food at this
60-plus-year-old Hartford area landmark -- a favorite amongst truck
drivers and, come to think of it, all walks of life.
The Olympia hits on all diner cylinders with heaping portions of
omelets, pancakes, French toast, corned beef and pastrami platters,
club sandwiches, ham steaks, Yankee pot roast, fried chicken, fried and
baked seafood, baked meatloaf, roast stuffed turkey, breaded pork chops
and spaghetti dinners, as well as Greek influences like gyros and
moussaka. Add some homemade pie for dessert, and you have a menu that
reads like a greatest hits collection of real diner food. On the last
visit here, I had the meatloaf and it was fantastic -- flavorful, and
not too salty or burned like you'd sometimes find at other places.
The original diner clearly has the most ambiance, but often it can get
crowded. A 1986 dining room addition that doubled the size of the diner
took care of that problem, although the newer room can also get crowded
-- a real testimony to the greatness of this place.
Steve Gavrillis, who has owned the diner with brother Tasos since 2001
(their father bought the diner in 1974) believes that the Olympia
stands out for several reasons.
“Consistency, integrity -- nothing is hidden, no gimmicks, we don’t
give with the left hand and take with the right,” said Gavrillis. “Lots
of people tell us they are grateful that our diner is clean and we are
He added, “We recommend the 50s and 60 s favorites like pot roast,
meatloaf, liver and onions. Also, lots of diners are built with brick
and stucco but ours is made out of stainless steel. I don’t want to
remodel. If it if changed, it would not be the same.”
Reflecting real life as diners often do, the Olympia Diner has seen all
different scenarios in its lifespan, as they so poignantly state on the
“Throughout the years, many customers have become like family to
the diner’s employees and owners. Some patrons have met their spouses
here. Deals have been made, contracts have been signed, a marriage
proposal accepted and divorce papers served. Families with newborn
babies and elderly grandparents have shared booths and created
memories. Traditions were started. Truckers from near and far have
rested, digested and fueled up on coffee before heading back on the
road. Travelers from the US and abroad have posed in front of the neon
sign and bought post cards to mail home.”
Interesting Olympia Diner tidbit: According to the Olympia Diner web
site, big screen movie scenes have been filmed at the Olympia including
Jacknife (1989) starring
Robert DeNiro; Promises in the Dark
(1979) starring Marcia Mason; and Once More With Feeling starring
Drea de Matteo.
Olympia Diner is located at 3413 Berlin Turnpike, Newington. Tel. (860)
666-9948. Web site: http://www.olympiadiner.net.
Tiny O'Rourke's Diner serves up big-time comfort foods.
O'Rourke's has been in business since 1941, focusing on American
classics, and, as a twist on the traditional diner, by adding
some Irish influences (OK, it makes sense... O'Rourke's...Irish
cuisine...). Starting out as "the wooden Dunn's Diner," and then moving
into a Mountain View diner (a New Jersey company built these types of
pre-fabricated diners starting in 1938), O'Rourke’s, sadly, was
victimized by a fire in 2006 but, fortunately, the community
rallied to help bring this beloved local landmark back by 2007.
O'Rourke's indeed follows the diner basics serving up hearty
breakfasts, sandwiches, burgers (the steamed cheeseburger is renowned),
and homemade soups and desserts, but the Irish selections lend true
diner uniqueness -- like Irish soda bread French toast and the Dubliner
omelet with corned beef hash and Irish cheddar. The Dagwood sandwich is
tremendous: house roasted turkey, baked ham and cheddar cheese!
O'Rourke's gets a huge local crowd, as well as students from nearby
Wesleyan University -- a good sign that this diner goes beyond just
pleasing a townie crowd.
Interesting O’Rourke’s Diner tidbit: Celebrities that have eaten at
O’Rourke’s include Clint Eastwood, the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA),
and New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, according to an article
in the Wesleyan Argus
O’Rourke’s Diner is located at 728 Main St., Middletown. Tel. (860)
346-6101. Web site: http://www.orourkesmiddletown.com/.
Southport Diner, Southport
The Southport Diner checks off every box in regards to all the good things about a diner: neon, counter, booths, big menu, huge portions of old school and contemporary homemade food, a desert case with front-cover magazine-worthy treats, excellent value for the money and confident, personable service with the right attitude. All in all, this slice of classic Americana in the form of a family-run diner is instantly likable upon stepping into the no-frills, unpretentious and spacious environment.
To make a long story short, we had been traveling back from New York City, N.Y. after visiting our daughter who recently moved into her first apartment as a working professional. She gave us a wonderful tour of the city that resulted in walking six miles! My wife (Joan) and I were getting mighty hungry, had a long ride back to the Boston, Mass. area and sought a place to eat sooner than later. We didn't want to dine at any place generic, mediocre and capable of ending up on a television commercial with unappetizing scenes of slow motion food ending up on plates. Fortunately, the Southport Diner showed up on my Smartphone search for local places to eat and led to, well, a smart decision to give it a try. Glad we did! Bottom line: The overall experience yielded some of the best diner food we've tasted in New England including this pot roast dinner...
Pot roast dinner from the Southport Diner.
and this beautifully presented salad with real feta cheese, vibrant greens and fresh-tasting onions, carrots and tomatoes...
Salad from the Southport Diner.
Thank goodness for places like the Southport Diner for those looking to land at a welcoming dining out place, fill up on outstanding comfort food and see the heartbeat of America through the local conversations, pride of ownership and excellent customer service. Ultimately, the feeling of satiation goes well beyond just the food at places like this -- you are filling up on the many elements that make our country great. We can hardly wait to return to try more items from that big breakfast, lunch and dinner menu!
The Southport Diner is located at 3350 Post Rd, Southport, CT. Tel.
(203) 292-6699. Web site: http://southportdiner.com/.
A more modern diner: the Vernon Diner in Vernon, Conn.
The Vernon Diner was, in a previous life, a Howard Johnson's
restaurant. The Diner seats 300 people, and at times, looks more like a
restaurant like a diner.
This scenario would potentially impede the authenticity of a real
diner, but there's enough chrome, neon, stool and counter space, booths
and classic diner food, as well as 25 made-from-scratch and
on-the-premises cakes at the Vernon Diner to make it all worthwhile.
The Vernon Diner is clean, efficient, affordable and with a menu that
pays attention to the necessary tenets of a diner menu -- French toast,
omelets, eggs benedict, pancakes, waffles, burgers, grilled reubens,
homemade soups, club sandwiches, and meatloaf, roast turkey and sirloin
steak dinners, to name a few. What I like best about the Vernon Diner,
however, is that it's a Greek-influenced diner, and that means some
excellent Greek-American specialties like moussaka, chicken souvlaki,
gyros, spinach pie, and Greek salads (not the generic “House of Pizza”
kind). What's more, the Vernon Diner serves excellent baked, fried and
broiled seafood plates, paninis, prime rib, kebobs, pasta dishes and
desserts, in addition to cakes, like puddings, pies, ice cream sundaes
and various pastries (eclairs, brownies, turnovers).
Homemade chocolate cake from the Vernon Diner.
Those sweets sweeten the experience perhaps unlike any other diner
we’ve been to in New England. The dessert display case near the
entrance and the mouthwatering selections behind the counter -- along
with those huge chocolate chip cookies on the counter -- are simply
sights to behold.
The Vernon Diner stands up well to virtually all great diners listed in
this post and it's certainly a lot better than the Howard
Johnson's that stood here before. The location is ideal for highway
travelers, located just off Route 84 not too far from Hartford. Open 24
hours a day with frequent waiting lines during breakfast, lunch and
dinner times, the Vernon Diner proves that a diner doesn't have to be
ancient and tiny to be a tremendous diner!
Interesting Vernon Diner tidbits: Before opening the Vernon Diner,
master chef Teddy Demos worked at “high end restaurants in Manhattan as
an executive chef and later went on to open up his own restaurant in
Times Square,” according to the Vernon Diner web site.
The Vernon Diner is located at 453 Hartford Turnpike, Vernon. Tel.
(860) 875-8812. Web site: http://www.vernondiner.com.
The sign states "EAT," and that they do at Zip's Diner in
This family-run small diner works hard to succeed and thrive in a world
where small businesses and the economy, in general, have taken a
On my last visit, the real world scenarios painted a picture of the
better side of America that happened to go far beyond the outstanding
diner food served in a classic dining car. Stay-at-home moms took their
kids out for that all-American treat, chocolate chip pancakes.
Seasonal, local campers left their wooded vacationlands to let someone
else do the home-style cooking. One of the waitresses wished her mom a
great day, while another staff member talked with diner patrons about
their trip to attend a wedding. The conversation started and ended
frequently, as in between talks, those waitresses brought out meals
while the customers talked across the room by coming up with even more
details on the trip and wedding. Their spontaneous trip report beat any
corporate travel guide, any day!
Maybe the happy customer faces we saw at Zip’s was not permanent
reality, as the honest, hard-working people of our country face great
social, financial and political challenges. Any worries, however, were
put aside at a diner that seems like it was put on earth to make people
happy. It all started in 1954, and family ownership from a newer
generation continues to run this classic O’Mahoney-style dining car
from New Jersey, to this very day. By the way, the name "Zip,"
according to Zip’s web site history page, “was the nickname of retired
Connecticut state trooper, Henry "Zip" Zehrer, who started in the diner
business in 1946 in Danielson, CT.”
Anyone not familiar with a diner, but would like to be introduced to
the homey, unpretentious experience would be best served coming here --
this is the type of place that you would expect a diner to be with its
friendly feeling and filling home-cooked meals served by some of the
nicest waitresses in this dining genre. The exterior features silver
stainless steel, the neon “Eat” sign on top of the dining car gets
customers in the right frame of mind, and the retro feel of the diner
contrasts sharply with the way the world has transformed virtually
outside its doorstep with chain stores, gas stations, fast food
restaurants chains and closed down factory buildings down the road. It
might not be a pretty world out there, but things seems pretty good
once inside Zip’s Diner. How nice to take a break from the world, as
know it today!
Menu classics abound with pancakes, Belgian waffles, corned beef hash,
three egg omelets, biscuits and gravy, fried clams, Yankee pot roast,
homemade soups, mac and cheese, burgers, BLTs, turkey clubs, chicken
fried steak, hot turkey, roast beef and meatloaf platters, onion rings
and fries, pies, strawberry shortcake, ice cream and baked pudding. I
love the “Zip’s Special” – an open-faced sandwich featuring a seared,
tender eight-ounce rib-eye accompanied by a side of perfectly-formed
Rib-eye sandwich with cheese and fries from Zip's Diner.
Although Zip’s is a thriving little place, we say enjoy it now as this
type of authentic diner seems to be increasingly few and far between in
a business world that seems less genuine and personable. I suspect
Zip’s will continue to be around for a long time, but, at the same
time, don’t take that for granted -- just enjoy the precious moments
here and, equally important, know that there is always hot coffee on
Open seven days a week for breakfast (served all day), lunch and
dinner, Zip’s is conveniently located off Route 395 in this quiet
northeastern Connecticut town, equidistant to Hartford, Connecticut,
Worcester, Massachusetts., and Providence, Rhode island.
Interesting Zip’s Diner tidbits: Bill Griffith, a popular
cartoonist known for his comic strip Zippy,
and the phrase “Are we
having fun yet?” has eaten at the diner and featured Zip’s in his comic
Celebrities that have eaten at Zip’s include Liberace, Alec Baldwin,
Kim Basinger, Brian Dennehy and Renee Zellweger. Athletes experiencing
Zip’s: Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio and Carl Yastrzemski, according to
the CMTQ web site (http://www.ctmq.org/zip’s-diner).
Zip’s Diner was also featured in Steven King’s novel 11/22/63, and on
the cover of a novel, Ring in the
Dead, written by J.A. Jance.
Zip’s is located at Routes 101 and 12, Dayville. Tel. (860) 774-6335.
Web site: http://zipsdiner.com/.
Best Diners in Maine
The A1 Diner brings lots of dining car charm to Gardiner.
Photo credit: A1 Diner.
I concur with Guy Fieri, of the Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins and
Dives, who featured this amazing little diner on his show and
world of its basic staples of "pancakes, burgers, biscuits and homemade
soups!" I've only been to the A1 a few times, but somehow managed to
get three of those four critical diner food groups into my stomach
(no biscuits, he said regretfully).
This beautiful little dining car has been around Gardiner since 1946.
Michael Giberson says that he and co-owner Neil Anderson took over the
A1 in 1988, and while keeping the old-time diner look intact, have
upgraded the menu through the years.
“You can find everything you’d expect at a diner but we also have
ethnic, vegetarian, fresh local foods, grass fed beef,” said Giberson.
“When we bought the restaurant, it was not doing very well and had a
lot of frozen products, so we needed to make that change to survive.”
The A1 looks like the prototype for a diner and has not only been
recommended by locals, but also esteemed media like the aforementioned
Fieri, and Yankee and Down East magazines. Travel & Leisure
Magazine once called the A1 Diner as one of the best 25
Sit on a chrome pedestal stool at the original pink marble top counter
or in a blue vinyl booth, admire all the stainless steel, touches of
neon, and just revel in the classic diner atmosphere over a juicy
burger, cup of coffee and a homemade dessert!
Interesting A1 Diner tidbits: About 15 years ago, employee Bob Newell
(sadly no longer with us) -- who worked at the restaurant for 64 years
-- made a late career transition from line cook to prep cook. A
friendly type, he liked to walk out front and meet and greet customers.
One day he started chatting with a man from Cushing, Maine. Newell said
to the man that he knew about Cushing because that is where famous
artists Andrew Wyeth hailed from. The man said, “He is my dad and is
sitting out front!”
Another time, a regular customer came in and ordered a dish of shrimp
curry and started crying. Giberson thought she was a “little
inebriated,” and said that the waitress asked her what was wrong. She
said,”The food is way too spicy!” (Giberson says he didn’t think the
food was spicy at all). After that sad moment, the A1 Diner
decided to rename the dish “Crying Woman Shrimp Curry.”
The A1 Diner has an interesting location, as it is built on steel
stilts alongside a bridge!
A1 Diner is located at 3 Bridge St., Gardiner. Tel. (207)
582-4804. Web site: https://www.facebook.com/A1Diner/.
Millions of customers have dined at the Maine Diner since first
opening in 1983.
As you can tell now after reading the book to this point that many
diners in New England set high standards. With that said, I regard the
Maine Diner as the best diner in New England. That’s extremely
noteworthy, given the tough competition. Each and every time, the Maine
Diner just seems to embody every element that makes a diner great.
Consistency matters, especially when the quality of the food and
service are set to top-notch status.
Sure, the Maine Diner could have easy "gone Hollywood" with its
celebrity sightings, gift shop merchandising, borderline restaurant
look, and an ambitious marketing plan. Is that any way a diner should
act? I say, "Why not?"
The Maine Diner might have a better grasp of the 21st century than your
typical diner, but there are enough superb diner dishes, some of the
nicest waitresses you'll ever meet, neon, counter, booths, and local
conversation to call this a real diner -- and a great one, at that. The
Maine ￼Diner taps into the coastal dining scene with some real seafood
gems like lobster pie, lobster rolls, seafood chowder, crab cakes fried
clams (all as good, if not better than some of the nearby waterfront
restaurants, and often at cheaper prices), but I always like to go with
the basics -- or as the Maine Diner puts it, ""World Famous Food Like
Grandma Used to Make!"
Some recommendations: the fluffy blueberry pancakes loaded with
blueberries, Yankee pot roast, homemade chili, chicken pot pie, mac and
cheese (they do have a yummy lobster mac and cheese version, too!), and
the “Diner Special” with two eggs, bacon, ham or sausage, and corned
beef hash, home fries, toast and jelly. For dessert, I always go with
either the blueberry pie (amazing, you can taste the blueberries unlike
some of the artificial-tasting pies served elsewhere) or homemade
The Maine Diner is a relative newcomer to the diner scene having
started in 1983, but 7,000,000-plus million customers later and a
convenient location near many southern Maine beaches helps make the
Maine Diner a landmark diner. We just love it here!
Interesting Maine Diner tidbits: Maine Diner General Manager Jim
MacNeill reports that former Boston Red Sox pitching great Luis Tiant
is a huge fan of the Maine Diner, and eats there up to four times a
week! Tiant is such a fixture at the Maine Diner that he goes to their
Christmas parties and always finds time to talk with the waitresses,
cooks and customers, according to MacNeill. He adds that, although not
commonly known, the Maine Diner has stacked away signed pictures of
Tiant for his fans -- just in case anyone asks.
CBS sports anchor Jim Nantz has a plate named for him: the award-
winning Seafood Chowder served with a choice of the Maine Diner’s
famous hot or cold lobster roll. Apparently, Nantz loves this combo
when visiting the Maine Diner!
The delicious lobster pie -- huge chunks of fresh lobster meat topped
with delicious crumbs and then baked to perfection in a casserole dish
-- has been featured in The Cook's
Magazine May/June in 1985; Good
Food, Road Food August in 1986; Eat Your Way Across The USA; NBC's
Today Show in 1997, and Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives in
The Maine Diner is located at 2265 Post Rd. (Route 1), Wells. Tel.
(207) 646-4441. Web site: http://mainediner.com/.
Moody's Diner, Waldoboro, Maine. Photo credit: Moodys' Diner.
Moody's is famous to many outsiders as one of the best food stops, en
route to famous Maine travel destinations like Camden, Bar Harbor and
Acadia National Park, but locals know the diner as a historic icon.
Whatever the case, the conversations going back many years always seem
to favor Moody's for its excellent diner food selections. The Moody
family actually started its business as a lodging establishment back in
1927, charging $1 a night for cabin accommodations back then (it is now
a motel). A few years later, the diner started as a lunch wagon, which
was moved down the hill when Route 1 was reconfigured. That lunch wagon
has been expanded through the years into a classic diner. The diner is
till operated by the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren of
original owners Percy and Bertha Moody.
Moody's Diner has an extensive menu with highlights including fried
seafood plates, ham steak, honey dipped fried chicken, chicken
croquettes with gravy, lobster, clam, crabmeat and haddock rolls,
homemade soups, burgers, club sandwiches, homemade donuts and whoopie
pies, and huge breakfast specials. Some of the daily specials are
popular, too, including Yankee pot roast, meatloaf, baked beans and
brown bread, and homemade turkey pie. It's hard to choose, but my
recommendation is to go with the seafood. You are in Maine, after all!
Interesting Moody’s Diner tidbits: Food
& Wine Magazine named
Moody’s Diner as one of the best diners in its article, America’s Best
by stating “In more than 80 years of family ownership, Moody's has been
a standard-bearer for New England's unfussy working-class cuisine.”
Moody’s Diner is located at 1885 Atlantic Hwy., US Route 1, Waldoboro.
Tel. (207) 832-7785. Web site: http://www.moodysdiner.com/.
The Best Diners in Massachusetts
Always crowded: the Agawam Diner, Rowley, Mass.
Housed in a charming 1954 Fodero dining car and listed on the National
Register of Historic Places in 1999, the Agawam Diner gets more crowds
than the typical diner which can easily be explained: it’s really
good! Breakfasts are tasty and filling, lunches even better
(although some will say the opposite) and the overall experience
perhaps its greatest asset with waitresses that seem like they have
been there forever and a dedicated crowd that collectively seems to be
having a great time. I always see someone smiling whether entering or
leaving the restaurant.
Classic Diner setting at the Agawam.
Go with the omelets, hearty chili, turkey club, or chicken pot
pie and for dessert the banana cream pie -- they are all filling,
delicious and have that homemade taste. Speaking of the chicken pot
pie, the Food Network chose that delicious meal as the second best dish
on its Top 5 Diner Dishes in America
feature on the Nov. 30, 2015,
segment of the Top 5 Restaurants
show, hosted by Geoffrey Zakarian and
Here is the Food Network's rationale of choosing the Agawam Diner
chicken pot pie as one of the best diner dishes in the country:
"Customers love going to the Agawam Diner in Rowley, Mass. because they
consider it their second home. Owner John Galanis' father began the
diner and created all its recipes, which are at least 60 years old.
Keeping the tradition alive, Galanis hasn't changed a recipe,
especially not the chicken pot pie, which is made of boiled white meat,
peas, carrots and gravy, all topped with a pastry round. The
most-unusual thing about the dish is that it's flipped over a plate
when served, so all the juices get absorbed into the top crust."
The angel pie is a favorite, too: vanilla custard embedded inside
chocolate cake and then baked in a pie crust. The generous portion of
whipped cream only helps the cause!
The Agawam Diner is cash-only but, fortunately, there's a bank across
the street with an ATM. Better to drive to the bank instead of
walking across the street as some of the drivers are insane.
The North Shore has quite a few good diners but if I had to choose one,
the Agawam would be at the top of the list!
Interesting Agawam Diner tidbits: Rock star Elvis Costello filmed a
music video for his song 45,
at the Agawam Diner. The late mystery
novelist Robert B. Parker (author of the Spenser mystery series) loved
the Agawam Diner and had mentioned it in his 2003 crime novel book,
Back Story: “The theater was
dark on Mondays, and I took Paul to dinner
at the world’s greatest restaurant, which is, of course, The Agawam
Diner in Rowley.”
The Agawam Diner is located at Routes 1 & 133, Rowley. Tel. (978)
Al Mac's Diner,
Fall River is lucky to have an outstanding old-time diner like
Al Mac's actually closed for a while a few years back, but is open
again, thank goodness! In business for more than a 100 years, Al Mac's
is considered one of the "go to" diners in southeastern Massachusetts.
They have an extensive breakfast, lunch and dinner menu with something
bound to please everyone.
Once a six-horse drawn wagon in 1910, Al Mac's eventually moved into a
stainless steel silver and green DeRaffele diner in 1953. Known for its
large neon sign with the slogan “Justly Famous Since 1910,” (It
cheerfully brightens up that Fall River neighborhood) and
large-portioned delicious meals, Al Mac's is everything a diner should
be -- and with a foot in the 21st century, too, as they seem to have
made a move to tap into local food sourcing whenever possible. I'd
recommend the meatloaf and turkey dinners, homemade soups, tuna melts
with sweet potato fries, the latter with all the
“fixin's” including real mashed potatoes, caramelized carrots,
stuffing, gravy and cranberry compote. Al Mac’s makes great homemade
potato chips, too!
Tuna melt with fries from Al Mac's.
Interesting Al Mac’s Diner tidbits: Phil Devitt, in a Jul. 1, 2010,
that rapper Dr. Dre once ate at Al Mac's around the 2005
timeframe and that legendary rock group Aerosmith placed a "huge" order
while filming a music video nearby in the 1990s. I am sure they thought
it was F-I-N-E, fine (Aerosmith song reference, I just had to include
that clever connection). Additionally, Al Mac’s has been featured in
the nationally syndicated comic strip, Ziggy.
Al Mac’s Diner is located at 135 President Ave., Fall River. Tel. (508)
567-5727. Web site: http://almacsdiner.net/.
Worcester has many diners with the Boulevard Diner being one of
the very best.
￼The Boulevard Diner is an exceptionally well-preserved vintage 1936
Worcester Lunch Car Company diner. With the sparkling exterior looking
like it gets a good cleaning every day, the Boulevard Diner might be an
old structure, but it stands out like new in a historic Worcester
The Boulevard Diner -- serving breakfast, lunch and dinner -- is
friendly, cozy and welcoming inside as if it was sheltered from some of
the harsh realities of the modern world. Listed on the National
Register of Historic Places in 2000, the well-preserved original wooden
doors, yellow ceramic panels with red lettering reading "Boulevard
Diner," marble counter, tile floors, Art Deco neon roof cresting with
illuminated central clock, striped metal facade awning and barrel roof
validate the deep historical diner roots.
Gabriella George, the owner’s daughter, said that Italian dishes remain
most popular at the diner with many of the recipes dating back to when
her grandfather owned this landmark in the 1950s.
“We have lots of regulars here from when my granddad owned it in the
1950s,” said George. “But we get a lot of college students here, too,
because we are a 24 hour diner close to so many colleges that are here
She added, “The pasta dinners with meatballs and sausages are most
popular here. We like sticking to what works.”
Other Italian favorites include lasagna, manicotti, and the chicken
parmigiana sandwich. If Italian food is not your passion, however, the
Boulevard Diner serves all the diner favorites you could ask for from
pancakes and eggs to meatloaf and fish and chips.
If anyone has room for dessert, the Boulevard Diner features many
options including apple pie, cakes, strawberry shortcake, grape-nut
pudding, cookies and brownies.
Last time I was here, I had a delicious American Chop Suey with a
portion about the size of Worcester -- and keep in mind, it’s the
second largest city in New England!
The Boulevard Diner is open 24 hours a day (in a row, as comedian
Stephen Wright would say). With only 14 stools and five wooden booths,
the diner gets crowded -- especially weekend nights after the bar scene
quiets down, as well as Saturday and Sunday morning breakfast time.
Interesting Boulevard Diner tidbits: Martha Coakley, former attorney
general of Massachusetts, stopped by the Boulevard Diner in the summer
of 2014 to enjoy a meal!
In mid April of 2016, the Boulevard Diner celebrated its 80th
anniversary by offering meals at 80 cents throughout the day and night!
Boulevard Diner is located at 155 Shrewsbury St., Worcester. Tel.(508)
791-4535. Web site:
New diner that looks old: Brothers Diner in Medfield.
What’s an old-fashioned retro diner with counter, stools and a soda
fountain doing in a bustling, sleek modern downtown Medfield grocery
store that sells fresh foods, local products, prepared meals, and basic
Massachusetts-based Roche Bros. supermarket chain, which opened
Brothers Marketplace neighborhood-style grocery stores in Medfield
(2014) and Weston, decided that a diner would continue the beloved
tradition of the former Lord’s Department Store luncheonette at this
“150 percent, this is an homage to the legacy of what had been there!”
said Aimee Morgida, director of operations for Roche Bros. and Brothers
Marketplace. “It is how the community felt and we absolutely wanted to
continue a diner type of place.”
While a nexus clearly exists between the Lord’s Department Store
luncheonette and Brothers Diner, there are also differences (the terms
“diner” and “luncheonette” are virtually interchangeable). Lord’s
Department Store graced Medfield from 1940 to 2013 with a luncheonette
that, in recent memory, was leased to private business owners. Some ran
higher quality operations than others -- thus, the consistency varied
-- but the town’s love for the old-fashioned luncheonette became a
community staple with its counter, stools, checkered floor, soda
fountain and other retro accents.
Brothers Diner, while beautifully fostering a diner’s classic interior
look and vibe, employs Roche Bros. employees to run the diner, as
opposed to a leased operation -- this allows for more consistency in
its food offerings. The Diner focuses on “clean
ingredients,” and high-quality sourcing, while still offering many
diner food classics, according to Dena Kowloff, director of marketing
“Isn’t that what a diner should be?” said Kowloff. “We serve diner food
in a friendly neighborhood setting, but you can also ask where anything
The Diner sources hormone and antibiotic-free meats, including angus
beef for flavorful burgers from Niman Ranch, of Northglenn, Colorado
and a delicious pastrami by McKenzie Country Classics out of
Burlington, Vermont). Diner coffee -- often traditionally tepid in many
diners -- takes on a full-bodied and smooth-tasting flavor at Brothers
Diner, courtesy of Armeno Coffee Roasters from Northborough,
Massachusetts. Byrne Dairy, a beloved, fourth generation dairy farm in
Upstate New York, supplies ice cream, which Brothers Diner offers in
scoops, sundaes, banana splits, root beer floats and frappes.
Brothers Diner also features other “sweet items” like milkshakes, and
lime and raspberry rickeys.
Incredible burger from Brothers Diner in Medfield.
“It’s insane how many kids come in after school,” said Brothers Diner
Manager, Jennifer Humphrey, of the ice cream crowd. “It’s like frappe
The old-time soda fountain features Maine Root handcrafted sodas made
with Fair Trade organic evaporated cane juice. Soda flavors include
regular and diet cola, black cherry, root beer and ginger brew, as well
Breakfast items range from the familiar (pancakes, eggs any style,
French toast, Belgium waffles) to signature, artfully-prepared
creations like the Brothers Breakfast Sandwich with fried egg, cheese
and grilled pastrami served on a Brioche roll. The lunch menu has
several burger offerings, along with classic diner comfort foods like
homemade soups, hot dogs, mac and cheese, tuna melts, club sandwiches
and grilled cheese.
Tucked away in the right corner of Brothers Marketplace, Brothers Diner
seamlessly fits into the handsome, updated 21st century look of the
entire grocery store, but somehow maintains its own retro identity.
With counter, stools, coffee always brewing and wonderful small town,
hometown conversations amongst customers and staff, Brothers Diner does
what a diner is supposed to do -- that is, take you away from the
stresses of the world and into a welcoming, homey place with no
pretensions and a staff that comes across like second family. The
veteran employees seem like the nicest aunts, uncles and cousins, and
the kids working there often act like a favorite nephew or niece.
Humphrey, as an example, works with the authentic style of a
down-to-earth diner waitress by working many tasks, at once, but with a
priority to always connect with regular and new customers. She clearly
has a love for creating food and making friends.
“I’ve been in the kitchen my whole life,” said Humphrey. “I love this
job and it’s great to see the town come here.”
“We are picky with the hiring process,” said Rob Croft, the store
manager. “The kids work hard and are friends not only inside work, but
also outside. It works to an advantage here that they are genuine
friends. When friends work side-by-side, that is the most ideal
Brothers Diner also continues the Lord’s tradition by giving back to
Diner employees cannot accept tips, but that does not stop customers
from doing so. Staff then decides which charity to donate the money,
according to Croft.
Nostalgic scenes of yesteryear, too, in the every day lives of local
residents look like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting. On a
cold winter morning, three-year-old Will Rumul feasted on pancakes with
wide-eyes and a big appetite before heading off to preschool.
“It’s kind of a bribe,” joked mother Beth Rumul, whose other young
child, Kay was eyeing the pancakes. “We come here every Monday and
Thursday and absolutely love it.”
Morgida recalls an older couple once creating a priceless moment at the
“When we first opened, an older couple parked in the handicap section
and came into the diner,” said Morgida. “It was their date night and
they got frappes. They were reliving the Lord’s days.”
It’s really an ideal place to eat,” concluded Kowloff. “It’s a
combination of nostalgia and quality. People walk from the
neighborhoods to come here. It’s still an intimate place... We are so
glad to be here.”
Brothers Diner at Brothers Marketplace is located at 446 Main St.
Medfield. Tel. (508) 359-6850.
Oxford Diner, Oxford
No frills dining at Carl's Oxford Diner.
Constructed around a Worcester Dining Car, Carl's Oxford Diner features
staff that could have had second careers as comedians. There always a
funny man here, making the kids from three to 93 laugh with deft comic
timing, short quips and jokes. Carl’s is best-known for its delicious
breakfast and lunch food that goes beyond big portions -- case in
point, the “Bacon Special” with 10 strips of bacon, three eggs and a
mountain of home fries. Certainly not a diner for anyone with a
dedicated dietary New Year's resolution and the need to immediately
improve cholesterol readings, Carl's, nevertheless, could very well
serve as the prototype of everything good about a diner. The service is
down-to-earth, the place looks like a real diner, and no one goes home
hungry. In fact, the owners can often be heard asking the customers if
they've had enough food.
Although done with sincerity, it's kind of a ridiculous question given
the portions here and favorites like the pastrami and cheese omelet,
steak and cheese sandwich, the bacon cheeseburger, and chocolate chip
This is a side order of bacon from Carl's Oxford Diner!
Interesting Carl’s Oxford Diner tidbit: I haven't had this happen to me
but heard that if you don't finish your food, one of the lady employees
will write "Real Big Wimp" on your take-home box and paint one of your
Carl’s Oxford Diner is located at 291 Main St., Oxford. Tel. (508)
987-8770. Web site: http://carlsoxforddiner.com/.
Casey's Diner, Natick.
Several generations later, this tiny diner located at the backside of
Natick center is best known for its delicious steamed hot dogs that
“snap” when first bitten. Casey’s also makes a great cinnamon swirl
French toast, double burger for just $6, at this writing, and a
mouthwatering custard pie. First established in 1890 in a four-stool,
horse drawn wagon serving hot dogs, Casey's transformed in 1922 as a
Worcester Lunch Car Company diner and has been located in Natick since
Double cheeseburger from Casey's Diner in Natick.
The diner -- nine bays wide and three deep -- features a metal barrel
roof, galvanized steel panels painted yellow, original wooden door
entrances, and an oak interior including the counter, counter apron,
stools, and ceiling. It’s a beauty as far as diners go. There's barely
enough room to move around -- and you might very well be waiting in
line -- but the classic breakfast, lunch and dinner diner experience is
timeless and priceless. Some say it is the oldest continuously running
diner in the United States!
Casey’s Diner is located at 356 South St., Natick. Web site:
Dave's Diner is one of the newer diners in New England, and one
of the very best.
Dave's Diner (just 25 minutes from Cape Cod) was manufactured in
Florida in 1997, but looks and feels like an authentic 1950s diner from
What's more, the breakfasts, lunches and dinners are a throwback to
another era with all the comfort foods one could ever want. For
starters, Dave's Diner features pancakes with real Vermont maple syrup,
waffles, French toast, meatloaf, clam chowder, roast turkey dinner,
chicken pot pie, beef liver and onions, mouthwatering burgers, a
renowned fried chicken known
for its tender marinated taste, and an assortment of pies and cakes.
We recently sampled a delicious, thick New England clam chowder,
a perfectly-done tuna melt, and some really phenomenal chocolate chip
pancakes -- loaded with chocolate chips!
Burger, fries and raspberry lime rickey at Dave's Diner.
With a bustling and lively atmosphere, waitresses are constantly on the
move (yet pleasant and efficient), while the cooks turn out large
portions of delicious home style food at a frenetic pace. All walks of
life seem to enjoy Dave's Diner from the tattooed crowd to the hungry
family to the refined corporate business type.
The classic 1950s diner look with neon, booths, counter service, tiled
floors, a jukebox, and memorabilia on the wall lend a timeless feel
that is synergistic with the wonderful old school diner food that has
never gone out of style. Dave’s Diner is also spotlessly clean, not
always a diner staple. Ultimately, Dave's Diner represents perhaps the
best of the old-style diner, even if its birth was in Florida in the
Getting into the classic diner spirit at Dave's Diner.
Interesting Dave’s Diner tidbit: The Phantom Gourmet food television
show once named Dave’s Diner as one of the eight great diners in a
Great 8 segment. I agree, and place it in my top five diners!
Dave’s Diner is located at 390 West Grove St., Middleboro. Tel. (508)
923-4755. Web site: http://www.davesdiner.com/home.
Dedham Diner, Dedham
Small in size but possessed with a big heart, the Dedham Diner caters
to a mostly local crowd including residents of Dedham and Boston neighborhoods like Hyde Park and West Roxbury.
Visitors to the Boston area looking for a quick, filling
breakfast or lunch with down-to-earth efficient service should take
note, also. Why pay top dollar at other Boston
eateries when the Dedham Diner offers such great value for the money
and and an experience that makes you feel like you belong?
The homey-like outside with a house structure, bench, planting, brick
steps, and and "Homestyle Breakfast and Lunch," and red "Open" signs
lead inside to a community of locals sitting at the counter or at
tables in the tiny dining room. Like many diners, most people seem to
know each other to the point of the scene looking like one big family
get together. Unlike some other diners, however, the staff treats
newcomers just as well as the locals. In the rushed, often uncivil 21st
century, it almost seems odd that people could be so nice. How
refreshing to go back in time and enjoy neighborly relations -- even if
not a neighbor.
Feeling at home at the Dedham Diner.
Of course, being treated well would not mean as much if the food didn't
match the friendly surroundings. Fortunately, breakfast items like the
chocolate chip pancakes with strawberry and whip cream or French toast
and any of the sandwiches for lunch are quite tasty and substantial in
size. In a nutshell, the Dedham Diner does the basics as well as any
high quality diner. Add a blue collar vibe, a humble nature, attentive
and personable staff and a real connection to the community, and you
have the prototype for an authentic diner.
Delicious pancake breakfast from the Dedham Diner.
For those who think that diners in or near the city aren't as friendly
as a rural diner, think again. Everyone here is treated like a regular.
That the cash-only Dedham Diner has survived the fast food chains and
seemingly infinite number of restaurants in the Boston area is a
testimony to its dedication to serving the food that people love and
doing so in a beyond pleasant manner. If I was giving a lecture on how
to create a diner, the Dedham Diner would be featured in the
You won't find many stories written online on the Dedham Diner, but
that's OK. The stories are revealed every day in the Diner through
working class conversations, family get togethers, small business pride
of ownership and the chance to enjoy a simple, homestyle meal.
The Dedham Diner is located at 247 Bussey St., Dedham. Tel. (781)
Plain dining car outside, creative cooking flair inside at the
Deluxe Town Diner in Watertown.
￼Whether it's a meatloaf "blue plate" special or tofu vegetable stir
fry, the Deluxe Town Diner in Watertown has a knack for pleasing all
Looking like a classic diner with its stainless steel, counters and
booths and neon (the Diner has been in Watertown since 1947) and acting
like a restaurant with a chef who should be working somewhere in the
upper-echelon Boston dining spotlight, the Deluxe Town Diner represents
the best of the modern diners -- and the best of the old school diners.
Perhaps that's why you'll see everyone from blue collar types to
college kids, all looking for a good bargain, as well as an option to
have breakfast any time of the day.
The breakfast, lunch and dinner menu is quite diverse, including
virtually any kind of breakfast item (pancakes, waffles, eggs any
style, sweet potato pancakes, breakfast burritos, etc.), Johnny Cakes,
soups, salads, wraps, sandwiches, and "blue-plate specials" like
meatloaf, roast turkey, mac and cheese, Kobe and veggie burgers, franks
and beans, and fish and chips. For breakfast, the chocolate chip
pancakes are terrific, full of chocolate chips and made-from-scratch
pancakes. For lunch, we loved the Asian noodle chicken salad, although
"Mom's chicken noodle soup" the Falafel appetizer plate, apple curry
turkey burger and meatloaf sandwich looked very tempting, also. For
dinner, we especially liked the meatloaf dinner -- plentiful and with a
homemade taste. A popular favorite: the sour cream and
buttermilk-based flapjacks that can be filled bananas,
blueberries, chocolate chips or pecans.
Interesting Deluxe Town Diner tidbit: Actress Eliza Dushku, A Watertown
native, once said in a stuffboston.com article entitled Eliza Dushku -
“We famously eat at Town Diner [in Watertown] quite a bit...”
Deluxe Town Diner is located at 627 Mount Auburn St., Watertown. Tel.
(617) 926-8400. Web site:
Don's Diner in Plainville dates back to 1936.
Everyone loves a good diner, but how many of these landmarks remain
open in the New England downtowns where the heart of our communities
always used to gather for informal meals and great conversations?
It seems like more diners today line the faceless highways, strip malls
and remote roads leading from our town centers, but, fortunately, Don's
Diner graces the modest but active downtown Plainville with an
old-fashioned dining spot where everyone seems to say "hello" to each
other. Plainville is just that kind of friendly small town and Don's
Diner is the vehicle to enjoy that small town feeling.
Don's Diner, after a brief hiatus, reopened its diner in late 2006,
starting with breakfast only and then, adding lunches. A fourth
generation diner dating back to 1936, Don's Diner is full of classic
chrome, swinging stools at the counter, nostalgic memorabilia, local
newspaper clippings, family photographs lining the diner car, a small
out-of-date television playing, plenty of good conversation and comfort
foods that collectively elevate this Plainville landmark to legendary
local diner status. Recommended dishes include the hearty omelets, home
fries, M&M and chocolate chip pancakes, and homemade blueberry and
cranberry-walnut muffins. Lunches are substantial, too, including the
juicy burgers (including the burger inside a grilled cheese named after
“Auntie Nat”), piled high club sandwiches, tuna melts, and clam cakes
and chowder. You can even opt out of the typical sandwich bread and
order on a Portuguese sweet roll for a small additional charge!
Additionally, the pleasant aroma of coffee and the quick, personable
service add relevant diner flourishes that further validate the diner's
Breakfast done the right way at Don's Diner in Plainville.
Sunday morning seems especially pleasant as the church crowds and
families find time to all be together, thus reflecting the great,
close-knit Plainville community spirit. Historically, a diner is that
kind of gathering spot for local staff and customers, and Don's Diner
represents its genre as well as any.
Interesting Don’s Diner tidbit: Don’s Diner gets some strange food
requests. Lynne Perrault, of Don’s Diner, told the Wrentham Patch in an
Aug. 12, 2013, article
that a 90-year-old man would always order beef stew with peanut butter
Don’s Diner is located at 121 South St., Plainville. Tel. (508)
695-7036. Web site:
The 50s Diner in Dedham is located on the first floor of an office
The 50s Diner looks your classic historic diner, but is
oddly located in a faceless corporate-like building near the
Legacy Place shopping and entertainment complex. That hardly seems like
an authentic setting, but it’s really no impediment. Once inside,
the 50s theme helps create a real diner look with a vintage feel. With
counter, booths, nostalgic signs on the wall and breakfast and lunch
items done better than many historic diners, the 50s Diner is a
much-needed local diner for business people, families, singles and just
about anyone else that likes a nice traditional atmosphere. I recommend
the homemade corned beef hash with eggs, it's phenomenal and filling!
The lines frequently go out the door. While many customers appreciate
the 50s Diner for evoking a genuine retro diner, just about anyone who
comes here has big portions of comfort foods at the forefront of their
minds. That’s why they don’t mind waiting, at times, for a half hour.
1950s music, an ATM machine set up in a telephone booth (cash only
here), humorous and sometimes loud waitresses very mindful of
continuously filling coffee cups, and lots of decorative memorabilia
take you away from the corporate building setting and into a legitimate
diner atmosphere that offers one of the best experiences in the diner
genre within the Boston area.
50s Diner is located at 6 Legacy Blvd., Dedham. Tel. (508) 326-1955.
Web site: https://www.facebook.com/50sdiner/.
Four Sisters Owl
The Owl Diner: a household name in Lowell.
Also known as just the Owl Diner, this famous Lowell diner dating back
to the early 1950s is housed in a 1940 Worcester Lunch Car filled with
stainless steel, neon, an external “Booth Service” panel, and that
famous sign outside with an owl design perched over the “Diner”
lettering. Originally a diner in Waltham known as the Monarch Diner,
the Four Sisters Diner has taken on somewhat of a legendary status in
Lowell for big breakfast and lunch portions, low prices, and a nice
family-friendly atmosphere. I personally love the chicken salad
sandwich on toast.
Ask anyone who knows Lowell well about going out for the best breakfast
in town and there’s a good chance they will tell you it’s the Owl Diner!
Old-time jukebox at the Owl Diner.
Interesting Owl Diner tidbit: Lowell native Jack Kerouac, and famous
author known as the “Father of the Beat Generation,” was known to
frequent the Owl Diner. Former Massachusetts senator and presidential
candidate, the late Paul Tsongas (a Lowell native, too) also ate here.
The Owl Diner is located at 244 Appleton St., Lowell. Tel. (978)
453-8321. Web site:
Old-time ambiance saturates the Foxtown Diner in Shelburne
The Foxtown Diner continues a proud tradition of serving delicious
comfort foods in an old-fashioned small town setting. With excellent
service, good coffee and a heavy dose of local conversation, this is
the type of cheap eats breakfast, lunch and early dinner spot that is
timeless, tasty and, ultimately terrific. The prices are lower than
most diners, too - noteworthy, given that diners are inherently a good
Going to the Foxtown Diner is almost like a rite of passage into the
wonderful feeling of being in Shelburne Falls. The friendly hometown
personality shines here and, like many diners, everyone seems to know
each other. The decor is behind the times, but that’s perfectly OK;
it’s like going back to the nostalgic, happier days side of the 50s or
60s here. There’s just this beautiful feeling, for many, reading the
paper over a cup of coffee and looking out the window to see one of the
most idyllic small town main streets in New England. It’s like
something out of a movie, only it’s real.
I recently had a tuna melt and fries here that was second to none --
and it was served by a friendly waitress who genuinely seemed to enjoy
working at the diner. Some of the most popular items here: pancakes,
French toast, handmade doughnuts, omelets, homemade soups and pies,
fresh not frozen burgers, piled high club sandwiches and, thankfully,
real maple syrup (too many diners only offer the fake kind).
The Foxtown Diner is just a three-minute walk to the Bridge of Flowers,
a must-see New England travel attraction -- this former trolley bridge
features 400 ft. of more than 500 varieties of flowers, shrubs and
The Foxtown Diner is located at 25 Bridge St., Shelburne Falls. Tel.
A welcoming place: Joe's Diner in Lee, Mass.
While on the Mass Turnpike, en route to Cooperstown, New York, we
became hungry. OK, wicked hungry, actually, as they say in Boston and
much of New England.
Instead of our usual visits to highway stop, service plaza restaurants,
we opted to take Exit 2 (the Lee/Pittsfield exit) in hopes of eating
at, and supporting a local business.
Just a few minutes off the exit, we headed into sunny, charming
downtown Lee with its tremendous variety of mom and pop shops with
colorful signage, people strolling the main drag, a local event going
on at the town common, and a certain friendliness transmitting from the
town into our car, Lee seemed like the type of idyllic small town you
would see in a Hallmark movie. Better yet, Lee seemed like a Norman
Rockwell town, which makes sense as the famed author, painter and
illustrator once lived in nearby Stockbridge and often drew upon the
area for inspiration in his works. There is even a Norman Rockwell
Museum in Stockbridge, which is well worth seeing, but we'll save that
story for another day and book.
On the northern outskirts of downtown Lee right by the railroad tracks,
we came across Joe's Diner. Unassuming in appearance with a plain
"Joe's Diner" sign and an old-time Pepsi sign above, American flags in
the window, a wooden bench and flowers near the entrance, we then
stepped inside to another time and place where local customers and
waitresses conversed over big portions of classic comfort foods like
burgers, turkey sandwiches, pancakes, corned beef hash and signature
drinks like coffee, root beer and milkshakes.
Looking around the room suggested a sense of history and community
pride. Colored drawings from elementary school students saturated one
side of the wall. Photos of celebrity visitors -- the DiMaggio brothers
and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, to name a few -- lined another
wall. Most prominently, that famous Saturday
Evening Post drawing known
as The Runaway -- a
friendly policeman talking with a small
would-be runaway boy at a diner -- stood out from everything else on
the wall, given its legendary pop culture status. You see, Joe's Diner
was reportedly once part of the inspiration for Norman Rockwell to come
up with that masterpiece.
Ambiance and history aside, Joe's Diner serves very good diner
food at lower-than-usual diner prices. Whether breakfast, lunch, dinner
or a slice of homemade pie, chances are your selection will taste much
better than what you'd find at the highway service centers. While we
loved our waffles, omelets and tuna melt, food clearly isn't the only
reason to come here.
Waffles with strawberries and cream from Joe's Diner.
The chance to be introduced to a very nice town, connect with the
community in the diner and have seasoned waitresses --as opposed to
disinterested employees serving you in between their texting and social
media empires -- is a modern day revelation. Joe's Diner taps into
that nostalgia by slowing down the pace from our higher speed highway
routes, and getting down to the basics. It is part of the America we
used to know, and that, happily, still exists in some neighborhoods to
this very day.
Classic diner scene at Joe's Diner.
For tourists, It’s certainly worth the five minute drive from the Mass
Turnpike or to those looking for an excellent affordable meal while
vacationing in the Berkshires. For locals, Joe’s Diner is a way of life
in this idyllic small Berkshire town.
Interesting Joe’s Diner tidbits: Joe Sorrentino, former owner of Joe’s
Diner from 1954 to 2001, was quoted in Sharon Smullen’s excellent 60
years at Joe's Diner in Lee article in The Berkshire Eagle
about famous visitors to the Diner through the years:
"We used to get Tanglewood musicians, John Williams, and politicians,"
Sorrentino said. "The Kennedys used to camp on October Mountain and
come in here at night. When [Mikhail] Baryshnikov came in from Jacob's
Pillow, I had to sit down at the table with him. He was quite a
Mrs. Heinz, who married John Kerry, used to come in for breakfast and
always ate her meal, she never left anything on the plate. Now her
husband's Secretary of State.”
Joe’s Diner celebrated it 60th anniversary in 2014, although a diner
formerly next door started in 1939.
Joe's Diner is located at 85 Center St., Lee. Tel. (413) 243-9756.
"Good sandwiches" and more at Kelly's Diner in Somerville.
This historic diner has been a￼ Boston area breakfast and lunch
favorite since moving to its Somerville address in 1996 after residing
42 years as a roadside stop in New Castle, Delaware. Wearing its heart
on its sleeve with window signs stating “ Good Sandwiches,” and “Jerry
O’Mahoney 1953 Dining Car,” Kelly’s not only attracts a great following
in its Ball Square location -- as well as from Tufts University
students -- but the entire metro Boston region looking for a good
diner. It’s easy to see why: the sandwiches are better than “good,” the
breakfasts huge and the blue plate special like the roast turkey dinner
in the classic comfort food mode. This cash only diner can also
accommodate more people than your standard historic diner. The Kelly’s
Diner web site, at this writing states, “It measures 55 feet long and
is one of the largest diners ever manufactured in the 1950's.” The
above average length, however, does not take anything away from the
real diner vibe with waitresses who have been here a long time, lots of
stainless steel, mini jukeboxes, and other vintage elements.
Although the window sign promotes sandwiches, breakfast might be the
diner’s ace in the hole. If you are truly hungry, go with the “Kelly
Super”: two eggs, two pancakes, choice of bacon or sausage, home fries
and toast. Other specialty dishes include corned beef hash, corned beef
sandwiches, lobster rolls and meatloaf.
To enhance its nostalgic diner look, Kelly’s Diner features a James
Dean statue at the door and a Betty Boop version behind the counter!
The waitresses often ask regulars if they will have the “usual.” The
locals confirm the question, and often go on to talk about their days,
their weeks, their months, their lives.
Interesting Kelly’s Diner tidbits: Yankee
Magazine featured Kelly’s
Diner as one of the top five diners in New England in its May/June 2008
Kelly’s Diner also appeared on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins
and Dives as host Guy Fieri visited to find out the secrets of
great lobster roll.
Kelly’s Diner is located at 674 Broadway, Somerville. Tel. (617)
623-8102. Web site: http://www.kellysdiner.net/.
Lanna Thai Diner,
I am going out on a limb to say this, but one of the tip offs that this
Woburn diner is not your typical diner is the glass coffee pot on top
of the coffee maker is full of ginger sauce. While the facade of the
Lanna Thai Diner has Americana written all over its stainless steel
exterior 1952 Worcester Dining Car, this little diner -- according to
my research -- is the only dining car in New England that serves Thai
Once known most prominently as Jack's Diner, this dining car has been
through a few ownership changes, but definitely seems to have hit on a
for-the-long-run niche as a Thai diner over the past several years.
They do a great business and fill a need for suburbia in search of more
Lanna Thai Diner might be housed in a tiny
diner, but the menu is big and full of authentic Thai lunch and dinner
including appetizers, soups, salads, main entrees, Northern Thai
specialties, noodles and fried rice, Thai curry selections, and
desserts like roti (crispy pastry dough lightly fried and topped with
sweetened condensed milk and sugar), fried bananas, ginger ice cream,
and fresh mango. I recently had a delicious “lunch special” dish with
egg noodles, chicken and vegetables that rivals the best in this
culinary genre. The service is quick, but the pace is, by no means,
rushed as the Lanna Thai Diner folks clearly want each customer to
enjoy the overall experience.
Not your typical diner food: Authentic Thai cuisine at Lanna
The owner, Max, is very friendly and I have read that he uses
vegetables from his own garden. That’s no surprise, as the food
tastes fresh and natural.
Many Thai restaurants have similar decor, but that is simply not the
case at Lanna Thai Diner with its old-time diner look. Just as
important, the Thai food tastes as good as what you would find in the
Lanna Thai Diner is located at 901C Main St., Woburn. Tel. (781)
932-0394. Web site: http://www.lannathaidiner.com/index2.html.
Depot Diner, Peabody
Little Depot Diner. Photo credit: Alicia at Little Deport Diner.
Deemed by customers as the "Cheers of Diners," The Little Depot Diner
is a place where everyone seems to know each other. The diner is a
small, 15-stool Worcester Lunch Car that was built in 1929. It was
first located in nearby Danvers and Lynn before making its final stop
at its present day location in Peabody. The stools, floor and others
parts of the diner still remain from the original structure.
The Little Depot Diner’s slogan is "Breakfast with the Blues" as no
matter when customers come in during business hours, they will always
hear blues music from the speakers -- including Jimi Hendrix, Stevie
Ray Vaughan and Joe Bonamassa. Local musicians also come in and play
their harps (harmonicas, not the oversized stringed musical instrument)
to the music!
“We believe food and music bring people together, so why not have
both?” said Alicia Scanlon who owns the diner with husband Ross
Scanlon. “They both are the universal language of camaraderie and we do
nothing but express that.”
Ross learned from Alicia’s family on how to make Hungarian sausage,
which is always available at The Little Depot Diner -- the paprika is
imported right from Hungary. Not satisfied with one take on sausage,
Ross is always making other versions (Italian, kielbasa, bratwurst, you
name it!) Besides Ross serving up home-made sausage and
sandwiches, he sources milk and eggs from Dunajski Dairy in
“We pride ourselves on using fresh, local and the best quality of
ingredients,” said Alicia.
Breakfast served all day, solid lunches (not served on weekends,
though), a friendly staff that serves food quickly, a toy train on
tracks (complete with air whistle) running through the diner, blues
music playing, and a 1929 old Worcester Lunch Car setting (at this
location since 1950) help make The Little Depot Diner one of the more
appealing, welcoming diners in Massachusetts. The pastrami Eggs
Benedict is a favorite, but you can't go wrong with the pancakes,
French toast and burgers. Whatever you do, make sure to order the
mouthwatering Nutella frappe. This is a tiny place with a big heart!
Cash only here, folks.
Interesting Little Depot Diner tidbits: The Little Depot Diner once
appeared on the famous Diners,
Drive-ins and Dives TV show on the Food
MSN.com, in a Dec., 2014, article entitled The best diners in every
placed the Little Depot as the best in Massachusetts, stating
“Massachusetts is chock-full of charming, nostalgia-inducing diners but
The Little Depot Diner tops the list. The cash-only Peabody diner only
seats 15 people at a time but is worth the wait, especially for its
blueberry pancakes and banana bread with the special butter sauce.”
The Little Depot Diner is located at 1 Railroad Ave., Peabody. Tel.
(978) 977-7775. Web site: http://www.thelittledepotdiner.com/.
Florence Diner, Florence (Northampton)
Miss Florence Diner, Northampton.
The Miss Florence Diner dates back to 1941 and continues as a beloved
tradition in Florence -- a charming, close-knit, Mayberry RFD-like
neighborhood in Northampton where everyone seems to know each other.
Conversations seem to share a front seat with the food here at this
classic diner listed on the National Register of Historic Places. On a
recent visit, I heard some artsy guy talking about art museums (makes
sense to me), another conversing passionately about hiking (so much, I
was ready to tell him to take a hike), and an old-timer bragging to
others about going to a social event and “dancing with two fine
ladies.” The small town conversations add that much more ambiance to
this friendly small town diner that looks the the retro version of an
anchor business in a downtown-like district.
The old dining car with a huge Miss Florence Diner sign on top of the
building is hard to miss and even harder to resist as the scene is so
welcoming, so Norman Rockwell-like (I know we just said that about
Joe’s Diner in Lee, but the Miss Florence has that ambiance, too).
Inside, the arched ceiling, the wall jukeboxes, the counter, the
booths, the conversational waitresses and customers, the oversized
breakfasts, the burgers, pot roast, club sandwiches, soups of the day,
fresh turkey sandwiches and plates, and homemade pies are just a
fraction of the fabric that makes this diner a local treasure. Make
sure to remember “The Alamo,” a heaping mix of eggs, beef chili, corn
muffin and cheese sauce -- and good luck trying to finish it as the
portion is enough for two people, or maybe 20, if examined by the
Calorie Restriction Society.
"The Alamo" from the Miss Florence Diner.
Every turn of the head reveals a nostalgic reminder without a hint of
trendiness or pretentiousness. The Miss Florence is a real diner with
no real interest in becoming something it isn’t -- the customer
benefits most and the historic status of diners so wonderfully remains
intact. The old-time slogan -- “Ain’t No Finer Diner” -- is entirely
"It's one of my favorites --- so cool!" said Eric Mabius, a fine actor
whose credits include the Hallmark Channel’s Signed, Sealed and
Delivered, and ABC’s Ugly
Betty (2006-10), about the Miss Florence
Diner. Eric, a big-time fan of New England, grew up in Amherst -- not
too far from
the Miss Florence Diner.
I couldn’t agree more with Mr. Mabius’ statement. The Miss Florence
Diner never fails to fall into a “favorites” category when visiting
this beautiful part of New England.
Miss Florence Diner is located at 99 Main St., Florence (Northampton).
Tel. (413) 584-3137.
Located at the back of an auto dealership: the Miss Mendon Diner.
The huge Imperial Cars auto dealership in Mendon offers an incredible
variety of cars with one
model you thought you would never see: an authentic dining car.
Driving to the back of the lot past sales people and rows and rows of
cars, you'll come across the charming Miss Mendon Diner. A classic
Worcester Dining Car built in 1950, the Miss Mendon Diner has
graced many different locations and names through the years --
including at its previous address in Newport, Vermont -- but seems to
have finally found a secure home amidst the virtual city of cars
for sale at Imperial.
The location seems out-of-place for such an American institution best
known as a standalone on our American highways, byways and
downtowns. Aside from the unusual location, a professional kitchen
in the back and an add-on dining room and a separate red-colored bus
that serves as a seasonal ice cream parlor, the Miss Mendon Diner
retains its innate roadside charm. That initial uneasiness of perhaps
being approached by a commission-hungry car salesman (Imperial is
really not like that, anyway) will subside once you see the
welcoming neon "Miss Mendon Diner" sign and "Booth Service" graphic on
the outside and the chrome, booths, counters and salt-of-the-earth
service on the inside. Completely restored to its original splendor and
spotlessly clean, the Miss Mendon Diner brings a bit of nostalgia into
the 21st century without compromising its diner car traditions.
The food offers true diner authenticity, too, with familiar breakfast,
lunch and dinner items like pancakes, Belgian waffles, club sandwiches,
homemade soups, meatloaf, beef stew, chicken pot pie, chicken fried
steak, burgers, hot dogs, shakes, floats, ice cream sundaes, and
homemade pies. Miss Mendon serves breakfast all day, thank goodness, as
some diners have, unfortunately, ditched this policy. We had on
our first visit for dinner delicious Belgian waffles, chocolate chip
pancakes, a meatloaf plate with fresh carrots and real mashed potatoes.
We'll be back soon to this fantastic, little diner in a very
Miss Mendon Diner is located at 16 Uxbridge Rd., Mendon. Tel. (508)
634-3000. Web site: http://www.missmendondiner.com/.
Square Diner, Fitchburg
Classic dining car beauty: Moran Square Town Diner in Fitchburg.
We￼will forgo the “Interesting Tidbits” section here, as anecdotes
hold an important role in the history of the Moran Square Diner.
Perhaps the only diner in the world to be named after a Major League
Baseball player, Moran’s moniker comes from Fitchburg native Pat Moran
who was a catcher for 14 seasons in the early 1900s. He also served as
a terrific manager, leading the 1915 Philadelphia Phillies and 1919
Cincinnati Reds to National League Championships. The 1919 team faced
the Chicago White Sox, making dubious history in the World Series as
eight members of the Sox team were charged in throwing the game --
thus, creating the Black Sox scandal.
Pardon the digression, but Moran was an underrated manager going
748-586 and having the 20th highest winning percentage, at this
writing, in Major League Baseball history. He should, arguably, be in
the National Baseball Hall of Fame. With that lineage in mind
pertaining to the Moran Square Diner, this local treasure seems to hit
a home run with several meals with French toast, including
perfectly-cooked eggs and pancakes, and the “Thursday special” corned
beef and cabbage dinner.
Apple cider pancakes with bacon and potatoes from the Moran
Square Town Diner.
I’m not a coffee drinker, but word has it that the coffee rises well
above the standard diner quality, Couple a cup of java with newspapers
available to read, friendly folks ready to talk, cheap prices and
service that is amongst the most personable and efficient in this
genre, and you have a really good diner experience!
Owners Chris and Mary Giannetti work their tails off, know the culinary
profession well, and know even better the customers that keep Moran’s
in the “Little Caboose That Could” category -- that is, an unassuming
little place that comes up big-time in so many dining out ways. The
husband-wife team is truly an integral part of their hometown.
Additionally, it’s not just the locals that keep the Moran Square Diner
thriving, but also well-know public figures like the late Sen. Ted
Kennedy, former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, and conservative
local media icon “VB” who have stopped by to have a bite. American
print and broadcast journalist, Mike Barnicle -- a Fitchburg native --
has frequently used the phrase, “The people at Moran Square Diner” when
referring to the working class. Ultimately, though, it is the everyday
people of this small city that support the Moran Square Diner with
crowds coming in -- especially for a hearty Sunday morning breakfast.
Jan Brisebois perhaps said it all about the owners and integrity of
their diner in a Sept. 18, 2016, Facebook post, “So you know your are
in a great place when the cook notices you did not order your usual,
and questions it to make it right. Thank goodness for Chris at Moran
Moran Square Diner looks and feels like a real diner!
Like so many diners, being in the presence of history makes a meal
taste that much better. There’s something comforting knowing that a
tiny red and yellow-painted 1940 Worcester Dining Car with booths,
counter and stools, barrel-shaped ceiling, a wall menu behind the
counter, and the checkered floor has outlasted bigger and fancier
places and failed fast food franchises through the years. For many, the
Moran Square Diner is like a best friend forever with many stories to
Amazingly, two owners have run the Moran Square Diner after all these
years -- the Giannetti’s since the early 1990s and the Vitelli family
before that. Speaking of the Vitelli family, let’s return to another
baseball story related to the Moran Square Diner...
Chris Giannetti told me that in the early 2000s, the previous owner and
a local doctor had a running bet on whether the Red Sox would ever win
a World Series. The doctor said that if the Sox were to ever win the
World Series that he would give the Moran Square Diner owner a bottle
of champagne. The doctor, unfortunately, became ill, and the Sox won
the World Series. On his deathbed, the doctor told his son about the
“When the Sox won, I found a bottle of champagne outside the diner!”
said Chris, thus confirming the won bet.
In the long run, the Moran Square Diner stories, the history, and the
food deserve hall of fame status in the diner world. Be sure to check
out this classic diner when in northern central Massachusetts!
Moran Square Diner is located at 6 Myrtle Ave., Fitchburg. Tel. (978)
343-9549. Facebook page:
Morin's Diner has been a staple in Attleboro for more than 100
Morin's Diner looks and feels like the prototype for an old-time
diner, but it is actually part of a larger business. Waking past the
counters and booths, you step
down into Morin's Hometown Bar and Grille first seeing a nice-looking
dining room with bar -- a good-sized space with lots
of elbow space and just as many people dining as in the diner. Beyond
that, a pool room leads to a historic-looking, rather isolated dining
area with high wooden-plank ceilings, exposed brick walls, two levels
of dining and an overall quaint feel. It's all good, but I like the
comfy, no frills vibe of the diner best.
Everything at Morins is delicious, abundant and created
with some culinary flair far above the diner norm.You
can't go wrong here with a home-cooked roast turkey
dinner, spinach and artichoke dip, some homemade baked mac and cheese
and blueberry pie with vanilla ice cream. Recently,
I had an amazing Portuguese breakfast special with linguica,
Portuguese French toast, scrambled eggs, onion home fries, and
tomatoes. The mouthwatering breakfast could have served two, so a doggy
bag was in order!
Portuguese breakfast special at Morin's Diner.
Morin’s is so good at so many things that it’s no surprise that Guy
Fieri, of the Food Network, featured Morin's Hometown Bar and
Grille in November 2009 on his Diners,
Drive-Ins, and Dives show. Mr.
Fieri highlighted what we already knew about the amazingly tasty
French meat pie, the Fisherman's Stew ("today's
fresh fillet," bay scallops, mussels, baby clams, tomatoes,
and bliss tomatoes in a spicy, tomato broth) and
corned beef and cabbage dinner.
This is my go-to place in Attleboro. I have never had a bad meal
here and the service is always quick, dependable and friendly. Owner
Morin is a dedicated on-site owner, out
there talking with the customers, cooking, managing the restaurant,
working the catering end of the business, and
walking around with a purpose that could only suggest pride of
ownership. What geat work ethic!
Also recommended: the tender BBQ steak
tips, the huge portion of fish and chips, the half-pound burger,
Yankee pot roast, homemade meatloaf and chicken pot pie.
Morin's recently celebrated its 100th year in business. I have talked
with many Attleboro residents (old, young, in between) and in the past,
members of the local 368th Engineering Battalion "B Company" (U.S.
Army) and they have all raved about Morin's. In a way, Morin's reflects
the hard-working common folk and patriotic spirit that I have
personally seen amongst so many Attleboro residents. They go when
not feeling like cooking a meal, when in search of a good bargain,
meeting with a good friend, and if the appetite has gone into overdrive.
Morin's is an American success story, starting as a tiny cable car
to now seating more than 250 people. It's remarkable that Morin's
survived the Great Depression, the demise of the once robust local
industry, and the development of malls and commercial endeavors along
Route 1. Whatever level of downtown
restoration takes place -- and it has been impressive in the past 10
years -- we look to Morin's as always being a historical cornerstone of
this proud city.
Interesting Morin’s Diner tidbit:
This from an article, dated Jan., 17,
2003, in the Attleboro Sun Chronicle
One such tidbit was that of the
73,000 pies his grandmother baked for
the restaurant for more than 20 years, many were made from her home,
while raising six children.
Another was that of the Thanksgiving
Day when the Morin's
mouth-watering turkey was snatched before the family's very eyes — only
moments before they were ready to dig into it.
As part of the family's catering
business, the Morins made and
delivered many turkeys, complete with gravy and stuffing, every
On this particular Thanksgiving, it
seems one customer decided to let
her turkey cool on the porch until they were ready to eat it, which had
a direct effect on the Morin family, as they were about to eat their
Thanksgiving turkey, according to Bill Morin.
“ We get a frantic phone call,” Morin
said, recalling the incident. “
The dog had eaten the (woman's) turkey. What does my father do? He
takes the turkey off the table, brings it down and delivers it to this
lady. That's the way my father was,” he said. Morin's father was
Russell Morin Sr.
Morin’s Diner is located at 16 South Main St., Attleboro. Tel. (508)
222-9875. Web site: http://www.morins1911.com/home.aspx.
New Yorker Diner, Watertown
Patriotic look at the New Yorker Diner in Watertown.
Sadly mistaken for a place just catering to drunk college students late
at night (open late Friday and Saturday nights), The New Yorker Diner
is so much more than that. No matter what the crowd, it’s the food,
diner atmosphere, rock bottom prices, and consistently friendly,
efficient service that stand out.
Sticking to basics and not veering too far into the newfangled gourmet
selections that other diners have employed, the New Yorker is the place
to go if you like bacon, eggs, home fries, BLTs, burgers and clubs. The
scali French toast is a gem. This might be your typical diner, but
that's OK, as the basics-done-right approach is what draws us to diners
in the first place!
The New Yorker Diner is located at 39 Mt. Auburn St., Watertown. Tel.
(617) 924-9772. Web site:
Broadway Diner, Taunton
Good downtown eats: the Off Broadway Diner in Taunton.
Locals know and love this diner right off the beautiful, historic
Taunton Green, but those outside the area are not familiar with what is
one of the best diners anywhere. That’s too bad as this downtown
Taunton restaurant has been bringing in regulars for more than 20
years. With Portuguese touches in its cuisine and a real dedication to
creating authentic diner food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the Off
Broadway Diner is one of those diners that delivers on every level --
friendly service that makes you feel right at home, huge portions of
food at low prices and a comfortable, small familiar diner ambiance
that takes us away from bustling urban Taunton scenes noticeable
just a few steps outside.
On my last visit, I had a Portuguese steak sandwich - wonderfully
seasoned -- with a fresh vegetable mix, Portuguese bread and a tangy
dipping sauce. It’s one of those dishes you don’t forget -- and one you
could pay twice as much as a higher profile urban restaurant. Many that
come here also swear by the Portuguese sweet bread French toast with a
side of homemade corned beef hash.
Portuguese steak sandwich from the Off Broadway Diner.
Since my last visit, a new owner, Tino Farese has taken over this local
favorite diner -- he has kept the popular dishes intact, including
Portuguese specialties -- but has added many homemade Italian meals to
the mix. That’s no surprise as Farese worked since 1968 at the
Verona Restaurant in Watertown, Mass., which was owned by his family
for generations (it is now closed after a great run). Having
worked in Watertown many years, I loved the Verona and feel that
Farese’s presence at the Off Broadway Diner can only make a great thing
This is truly a real hidden gem diner for those not from Taunton and a
terrific regular stop for those living in this small southeastern
Massachusetts city! It is one of the great mysteries why this diner
hasn’t made any mainstream media ‘best of” lists, but it’s got my vote
The Off Broadway Diner is located at 19 Taunton Green, Taunton. Tel.
(508) 880-7700. Web site:
Wing Diner, Walpole
This old diner now
serves as a bar inside the Red Wing Diner in Walpole.
The 1933 Worcester Dining Car that is embedded as a bar into the Red
Wing Diner restaurant still looks as ancient as ever, and is truly a
thing of beauty -- virtually untouched and true to form unlike most
other historic dining cars that have been totally renovated. The
weathered wooden counter and red stools, barrel-shaped ceiling, old
tile floors and orange stained glass around the windows lend an
authenticity that you just won’t see that much anymore in diners. It’s
like the unedited version of a movie.
The Red Wing Diner dates back to the early 1930s and recently renovated
the rest of the restaurant with new flooring, tables and a
fresh-looking exterior after many years of staying with the old tile
floor/formica table look. It all looks good, but for you diners fans,
you just have to check out the dining car section! Like most bars, you
can order food there -- and the great news is that the food is
The Red Wing Diner serves classic, old school suburban,
Italian-American lunch and dinner selections in large portions with
quick, efficient service, and great value for the money in a
You won't find better whole belly fried clams, clam strip rolls,
homemade onion rings, New England clam chowder, fisherman’s platters,
freshly-carved roast turkey dinners, baked salmon, marinated steak
tips, fried chicken, burgers and lobster rolls in the Boston suburbs.
The homemade heavy-on-the-cheese, loaded-with-toppings South
Shore-style bar pizza is a real winner, and a Greek salad transcends
the generic house of pizza kind with mixed greens, plenty of feta and a
nice tasting Greek dressing. The Red Wing also serves excellent
Italian-style meals like chicken parmesan, shrimp scampi, and grilled
linguica over pasta and topped with marinara sauce.
Fried seafood platter from the Red Wing Diner.
The waitresses have personality, are quick on their feet, seem to have
good peripheral vision if you need their attention, and deliver your
food in quick fashion -- just like a diner should.
Desserts are phenomenal, including blueberry and Boston Cream pies,
chocolate cake and some good tasting ice cream.
There’s something to greatly admire about a restaurant that has been in
business for more than 80 years with only a few ownership changes.
Harvey Ernstrom opened the Red Wing in 1931 and it has been owned by
the Murphy family (currently Liam) since 1952. Great grandparents,
grandparents, parents and the newest generation have loved the Red Wing
which is still thriving to this very day -- including that glorious
Interesting Red Wing Diner tidbit: The Red Wing goes through an average
350 pounds of onions a week or over nine tons a year to make its
homemade onion rings, according to a Red Wing Diner Facebook post
The Red Wing, 2235 Providence Highway, Route 1, Walpole. Tel. (508)
668-0453. Web site: http://www.redwingdiner.com/
Kitchen & Bar, Somerville
Davis Square, Somerville staple: the Rosebud.
The only diner in this book without the word "diner" in its name, the
Rosebud American Bar and Grill, nevertheless, still counts as a diner
as it is located in a beautifully restored historic semi-streamer
Worcester Lunch Car. Sure, the Rosebud veers away from its former pure
diner experience with “breakfast only” occurring on weekends in the
form of brunch, a bar presence, an “un-diner” appeal that brings in
fans of BBQ dishes and whiskey, and a lunch and dinner menu that
includes some upscale selections that you'd find in more trendy
restaurants. Nothing wrong with any of that, though!
The diner look is still intact and staples of this genre remain
including bottomless coffee, burgers, country fried steak, mac and
cheese meatloaf, and fish and chips. Homemade pies also help carry on
the diner tradition with daily special selections like blueberry
crumble, Dutch apple, chocolate cream, banana cream and key lime. The
jambalaya is highly recommended with its delicious mix of carolina
rice, chicken thighs, grilled shrimp, okra and linguica.
Interesting Rosebud moments: The Rosebud is an especially rare find,
being one of seven Worcester Lunch Car Company semi-streamliners
remaining in the country, according to a Feb. 7, 2013, article in the
Boston Globe entitled Historic
Somerville diner being sold
Rosebud American Bar and Grill is located at 381 Summer St.,
Somerville. Tel. (617) 629-9500. Web site:
Whatley Diner, Whatley.
No frills is the best way to describe the Whatley Diner, and that’s a
great thing. The food is straightforward, service based on the old days
when people were more social, and the design and decor void of any
pseudo, phony, modern diner inklings. The Whatley Diner comes
across, upon first glance, as a truck stop diner operating around the
clock with a gas station on the premises, trucks all over the place and
truckers refueling with hearty meals for the long haul. Neon,
chrome, a big jukebox at the front entrance and smaller ones at each
booth, and a classic diner exterior with a huge “Diner” sign confirm
The style of this great-looking diner is called a “Princess” that was
built in 1958 by the Kullman Company in New Jersey. Originally located
in nearby Chicopee, Massachusetts, where it was known as the Princess
Diner, the dining car was eventually moved to its current location by
F.L. Roberts Company (which currently operates the gas station on the
premises). Originally, the diner was known as The Maverick in Whatley,
but that name left town, presumably at sundown, of course, and it has
been known ever since as the Whatley Diner.
Corned beef hash is a signature dish, but the popular offerings go way
beyond that with daily blue plate specials like Yankee Pot Roast,
Shepherd’s pie, American chop suey, turkey dinners and fish fry. Just
about any traditional breakfast is available with 13 different types of
omelets, as well as pancakes, French toast, corned beef hash and the
classic “Heavy Hauler”: three eggs any style, two pancakes, bacon,
sausage, and toast and hash browns or home fries (and you can “wash it
down” with biscuits and gravy for an additional price). Lunch
follows the classic diner template, too, with burgers, tuna melts,
grilled cheese, chili cheese dogs, clam rolls and chowder, and meatloaf
and club sandwiches. Dinners also stay faithful to the traditional
diner menu including beef liver, fried chicken, mac and cheese,
homemade meatloaf dinner, and chicken fried steak. Desserts generally
center around pies (they make a tasty blueberry), cakes, ice cream,
strawberry shortcake and root beer floats. Occasionally, the Whatley
Diner gets a little adventurous, as evidenced by a recent burger
special with bacon, onion and cheddar cheese and... get this... peanut
butter on a kaiser roll! I would order that in a Jiffy! Once again,
sorry for the bad pun.
Blueberry pie from the Whatley Diner in Whatley.
The great thing about the Whatley Diner, as you know by now, is the
lack of pretension. Asked if the waitresses hired go through a
management trainee program, Eric Moulton, a former manager at the
Whatley Diner, said “Yeah, like about a 12 minute management trainee
program... We want our waitresses to be real and don’t want robots out
here. They engage in conversation, they’ll tell you about our food but
in their own ways.”
Moulton added,”We stay true to Americana while also going into the 21st
century (they do have avocado burgers). But if you’re highly
allergic or looking for vegan dishes, we are not your place.”
Interesting Whatley Diner tidbits: Staying true to form hasn’t
detracted from business at the Whatley Diner as about 2,000 customers
stop each week by for some hearty meals, according to Moulton.
Taking a look on the menu reveals that some of those customers that
have dined at the Whatley Diner are quite well-known including Jason
Robards, Ernest Borgnine, Christopher Reeve, Michael Douglas, Matt
Dillon, Susan Lucci, Chris Farley, B.B. King and The Beastie Boys.
Actor Eric Mabius told me that he loved going to the Whatley Diner when
growing up in nearby Amherst because of its 24/7 status.
A scene from the motion picture in 1999’s In Dreams starring Annette
Benning and Robert Downey, Jr., was filmed at the Whatley Diner!
A 1998 USA Today article cited the Whatley Diner as one of the top 10
diners in the United States.
Whatley Diner is located at 372 State Rd. (Routes 5 and 10), Whatley.
Tel. (413) 665-3696. Web site:
The Wheelhouse Diner, Quincy
Wheelhouse Diner in Quincy.
Billing itself as "The Ultimate Diner Experience," that slogan proves
that there is sometimes truth in advertising. A long-time Quincy, South
Shore old school favorite and historical landmark that dates back to
the 1940, The Wheelhouse Diner offers no real surprises but many smiles
for breakfast and lunch. I have been to the Wheelhouse only twice but
those two visits had a big diner experience impact. They seem to do all
the right things that we come to expect in a diner: ample portions of
tasty food, low prices, and quick and friendly service. The corn beef
hash is unbelievably good! Other favorites includes the waffles,
burgers, chowders, homemade soups and beef stew. The Wheelhouse Diner
is quite small with a limited number of booths and a standard small
diner-size counter, so there's the possibility of a long wait -- but
it's worth standing in line for the authentic diner experience and
excellent homestyle comfort foods. Cash only!
The Wheelhouse Diner is located at 453 Hancock St. Tel. 617-328-3666.
Facebook fan page:
Old School Waltham exists at Wilson's Diner.
Not too many good, old-fashioned diners exist in the Boston suburbs,
so what a revelation to rediscover Wilson’s Diner. Yes, rediscover.
Back in the day, we took places like Wilson’s for granted because
they were so commonplace. Now, with so many diners gone or becoming too
gentrified, Wilson’s stands out just for weathering out the many
restaurants trends, consequently surviving and staying true to
form. There’s simply no denying a food destination that does a
great job at serving lots of food at low prices and an establishment
that probably knows the names and faces of many people after their
second or third visit. They bring in a significant local crowd,
including townies, business people from in and around the Waltham
“technology belt,” families and Bentley College students.
A classic 1949 Worcester Lunch Car at this location since 1949,
Wilson's Diner not only features homemade breakfast and lunch
selections but also a stainless steel door, a full-length marble
counter, plenty of counter stools and old wooden booths. Listed on the
National Register of Historic Places in 1999, there's no doubt that
Wilson's is a true, authentic New England diner. Wilson's also offers a
Greek touch with dishes like a gyros and feta, lamb souvlaki sandwich,
Greek locanico (basically Greek sausage) and feta cheese omelet, and
homemade baklava. Wilson's is the place to be if you
like great coffee, filling breakfasts, good sandwiches and fast
service. Cash only!
Wilson's Diner breakfast gem: Gyros and feta omelet with home fries.
Wilson’s Diner is located at 507 Main St., Waltham. Tel. (781) 899-0760.
Yankee Diner, Charlton (CLOSED)
What a great name for a diner located in New England! This modest,
humble diner on Route 20 might not look like the most up-to-date dining
car, but that's part of the fabric that makes it look so genuine and
authentic. The 1939 Worcester Dining Car has been at this Charlton
location since 1969 through a few ownership changes. The current
version excels with the basics done better than most other diners --
not just the comfort foods, but also the speedy, friendly service and
better-than-average value for the money. The food often tastes homemade
and made that much better by being served in big portions. Definitely
go with the homemade hash, and perfectly cooked omelets and bacon. Keep
in mind lunch, too, as the Yankee Diner often stays away from the
grease that sometimes impedes a diner experience, and focuses more on
cleaner-tasting food. I recently had this grilled chicken and cheese
wrap with fresh spinach and tomatoes (and some good home fries!)...
Chicken wrap from the Yankee Diner.
The Yankee Diner does a better job than some of the high profile diners
who think they are really good. As expected and desired in a classic
diner, the Yankee Diner feels like a home away from home with lots of
locals talking it up, on a first-name basis, over the latest (and not
so greatest) news in the Charlton area at one of the booths or at the
counter in this small-sized diner.
This is really a fantastic diner for those in search of excellent
comfort foods, located not too far off the Massachusetts Turnpike in
the Worcester and Sturbridge areas!
Yankee Diner is located at 16 Worcester Rd. (Route 20), Charlton. Tel. (508) 248-2093.
Best Diners in New Hampshire
Joey's Diner looks so inviting from every angle.
It isn’t a historic diner and sports a large dining room, but Joey's
Diner, nevertheless, captures the 1950s diner look and feel with its
nostalgic decor, jukebox favorites, collectibles everywhere you look,
and American classics like meatloaf, homemade chicken pot pie, burgers,
hot dogs with grilled and buttered bun, American chop suey, Monte
Christo, clam roll, club sandwiches, and roast turkey dinner. It’s one
of those places that knows the type of food and ample portions just
right for the customer in tempting presentations that you would see on
television restaurant or food shows.
Perhaps the strongest selling point, however, is breakfast served all
day with all the diner standards on the menu -- eggs any style,
pancakes, waffles, French Toast, crepes, corned beef hash, bacon,
muffins (try the grilled blueberry with butter!), and bagels. The
dessert selection is always impressive, too, with hard and soft serve
ice cream, blueberry and coconut cream pies and apple crisp.
Grilled blueberry muffin from Joey's Diner.
Joey's pays tribute to the tradition in a fun, likable way with
its chrome, neon, booths, counter and tile floor and efficient
waitresses quick on their feet. Joey's also wins brownie points for
being spotlessly clean -- not always guaranteed at all diners.
Some diner purists might scoff at Joey’s being included in the book
since it could be considered more of a restaurant, but, to me, Joey’s
is a terrific diner choice when in the Nashua area as evidenced by
people of all ages enjoying the place. Plus, they really seem to
make customers feel at home with genuine staff and conversation!
Joey’s Diner is located at 1 Craftsman Lane, Amherst. Tel. (603)
577-8955. Web site: http://www.joeysdiner.com/
Lindy's Diner at night. Photo credit: Mindy Cambiar, BigChillAdventures.
A Paramount-style diner manufactured in New Jersey and transported to
Keene in 1961, Lindy's Diner is a virtual household name in this great,
small Monadnock Region city (one of my favorite downtowns in all of New
Many presidential candidates and their well-known endorsers have been
to this delightful neon and chrome diner during campaigns, but it is
the hundreds of thousands of customers through the years that have kept
old school Lindy's thriving to this very day. Best known for its New
England clam chowder, cheeseburgers, homemade macaroni and cheese and
Salisbury steaks, Lindy's is without a doubt a beloved landmark amongst
locals, travelers and Keene State College students for breakfast, lunch
and dinner who love comfort food served cheap, fast and delicious.
Additionally, each table has a mini jukebox!
“The food is hot, fast and cheap,” said Chuck Criss who co-owns
Lindy’s with Nancy Petrillo. “We make our own desserts and really focus
on homemade. We do it all.”
Interesting Lindy’s Diner tidbits: Politicians seem to love to mix it
up with the salt-of-the-earth New Hampshire people dining at Lindy’s.
The Lindy’s Diner web site states, “It is rumored that if you do not
visit Lindy’s Diner as a presidential candidate, you will not win the
New Hampshire primary.” Some famous politicians who have visited
Lindy’s: Ronald Reagan, Barrack Obama, George Bush, George W. Bush,
Bill Clinton and Chris Christie, according to Criss.
“We like to say, ‘It’s where politicians like to meet the real
people,’” said Criss.
Lindy’s Diner has also been featured on Channel 5, WCVB TV’s Chronicle.
Fritz Wetherbee, of WMUR-TV Channel 9‘s New Hampshire Chronicle, has
also been to the diner, as well as the late actor, Hal Holbrook.
Lindy’s Diner is located at 19 Gilbo Ave., Keene. Tel. (603) 352-4273.
Web site: http://www.lindysdiner.com/.
Downtown delight: Littleton Diner in Littleton, N.H. Photo
credit; Littleton Diner.
There was a time when many small towns with an established downtown
seemed to have a diner but thanks a lot to fast food chains, we no
longer have as many. Thankfully, the Littleton Diner successfully
remains a dining car treasure in of New England's great small town
downtown districts. The Littleton Diner is one of those places that
seems like such an important part of the community, given that it's
roots here go back to 1930.
Housed in a exceptionally well-preserved Sterling Dining Car, the
Littleton Diner might have experienced several ownership changes
throughout the years, but the glorious template never changed --
that is, a homey place with amply served home cooked meals at low
prices, and a traditional diner look as good as any. Last time here, I
had a delicious patty melt. Good news, too, for you breakfast purists
-- the Littleton Diner serves real maple syrup to go along
with your pancakes, waffles, or anything else! All in all, this is your
classic, Main Street USA diner. Even the Littleton Diner slogan
sounds charmingly old-fashioned: “Where there’s always something
I love this description of the Littleton Diner, as found, at this
writing, on the Littleton Diner web site history page:
Did you ever have a time when only
the best comfort food will make the
world right? So it was returning to our home in Mud City (part of
Morristown VT) from Loudon. I hoped the Littleton Diner would still be
open and passed by open eateries as we zipped up I-93. And on Main
Street the sign said "OPEN" at 7:55 PM. As the English say, "Spot on."
Great wait staff and great to-the-point comfort food. Hats off to the
cook(s). And thanks for staying open to 8:00 PM. on a Sunday. My wife
and I travel to NH a couple of times a year and always enjoy visiting
your restaurant. Your staff is friendly and polite, your restaurant is
always clean and comfortable and your food is excellent.
Myself and my husband go to your
dinner once a year. We stop there on
our way home to Mass. from Vermont. We love your home made hash!!
AMAZING! Just wanted to let you guys know that your restaurant is
My daughter, granddaughter and I are
from Newport, VT on the Canadian
border and any chance we get to Littleton for shopping we go for lunch
also and we have never been anyplace but the Diner for the BEST food
and the BEST prices, and, it's always a treat!!
Interesting Littleton Diner tidbit: 2016 U.S. Democratic presidential
candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stopped by the
diner in late October 2015 to chat with staff and customers. Many
political figures, in fact, have visited for a hearty diner meal at
the Littleton Diner, according to its Celebrity
Guests through the
Years page (http://www.littletondiner.com/celebs.php) including
Romney, John McCain and John Kerry. Steve Forbes, a publishing
executive, editor-in-chief of Forbes
Magazine, and former
Republican presidential candidate, also stopped by here, too!
Littleton Diner is located at 145 Main St., Littleton. Tel. (603)
444-3994. Web site: http://www.littletondiner.com/.
Miss Wakefield Diner, Sanbornville (Wakefield)
Miss Wakefield Diner.
Right away, five joyously overwhelming observations reveal the Miss
Wakefield Diner as a real diner: the classic dining car exterior, the
old-time jukebox in the entrance area, the crowds of people filling the
diner car, coffee always on the burner and waitresses bringing out, and
balancing on their hands huge portions of picture-perfect, homestyle
comfort foods. There's also an unusual attention-getter out front: a
big moose statue that reflects the moose population of around 3,500 in
New Hampshire (about 1,050 people reside in Sanbornville). I personally
think that the moose signifies that the Miss Wakefield Diner is head
and antlers above other diners!
Jukebox at the Miss Wakefield Diner.
After seeing these clues of heartwarming diner authenticity (moose
aside), the rest of the time can be spent focusing on actually enjoying
the hearty food, sipping on a cup of coffee, connecting the personable
service and friendly locals, and generally taking a break from the
hectic world outside.
The Miss Wakefield Diner survives as one of the rare Jerry
Mahoney-built diners. The journey had some challenges including closing
at its original Albany, N.Y. location in the late 1960s after 20-plus
years in business, and, sadly, landing in a junkyard, according to an
article on the excellent Heart of New England web site at
Thankfully, the Diner eventually found new life in tiny Sanbornville --
a Wakefield neighborhood conveniently located on Route 16 between
Portsmouth and Dover, N.H., and the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
It's a beautiful diner with stainless steel ceilings and backsplashes,
many windows allowing the sun to shine through and a long counter to
seemingly accommodate the
population of Sanbornville. Given the location, the Miss Wakefield
Diner brings in a significant year-round vacation crowd, in addition to
its strong base of local customers. Additionally, the Miss Wakefield
Diner shares another business in the same building: Gracie's Country
Store with some nice regional gifts and a good old-fashioned candy
Hours vary depending on the time of the season, but the Miss Wakefield
Diner is primarily a breakfast and lunch spot with favorites like
pancakes, burgers, club sandwiches, chili (outstanding!), fries,
shakes, apple crisp, homemade pies and specials like a huge,
multi-stacked stuffed French toast with berries and cream.
Not to sound cliched (OK, I guess I am), but the Miss Wakefield Diner
is the place to be in town. The food is very good, but I could just
stay here all day and be solely satisfied with the sense of community...
Interesting Miss Wakefield Diner tidbit: The Diner is not just about
locals and vacationers: Pop star Justin Timberlake and actress
wife Jessica Biel stopped by to "take pictures with and sign
autographs for some of the employees," according to a New England Cable
News post at http://bit.ly/2CjG0Qe. Talk about adding additional star
power to the wonderful Miss Wakefield Diner!
The Miss Wakefield Diner is located on 7 Windy Hollow Rd. (visible from
Route 16), Sanbornville. Tel. 603-522-6800. Facebook fan page:
Diner, Peterborough (Also Known As The Peterboro Diner!)
Classic diner good looks: Peterborough Diner.
Initially, the Peterborough Diner, in all its modest ways, might seem
like only a stop along the way but that would be a miscalculation.
This small diner creates special dining memories in big time ways.
Located in a beautiful New Hampshire town (so many fall into this
category; what a terrific state!) in one of the state's most scenic
regions (Monadnock), the Peterborough Diner is like a reliable old
friend that is always there for you. Perhaps it is the welcoming 1950s
Worcester Lunch Car diner car setting with its “green and cream”
colors, the "hometown” favorites like French toast, mac and cheese,
lasagna, Shepherd's pie, American chop suey and franks and homemade
beans, the excellent kids menu, the pleasant outdoor patio seating or
the treat-you-like family service that helps make the Peterborough
Diner “The Diner with Distinction” as they modestly and humbly call
Bacon, eggs and toast from the Peterboro Diner.
Starting as a wooden diner in 1936, the Peterborough Diner has seen
several different chapters in its storied local history, but one thing
is for certain: the Diner has been an integral part of downtown
Peterborough virtually since its inception. It’s the type of place
locals will recommend if you are town and asking for a recommendation
on where to eat. Waitresses treat out-of-towners just as well as the
regular crowd -- very important, as not all diners as much an
appreciation to visitors, although they should. They are diners, after
all! Additionally, the Peterborough Diner looks like it was born to
reside in this quaint New England town. Some local businesses in a
given town look out of place or contrived. The Peterborough Diner has
that well-established look, like the wise old grandparent -- or, maybe
in this case great grandparent -- that provides a strong, respected and
revered family presence.
Beautiful diner interior at the Peterboro Diner.
Interesting Peterboro Diner tidbits: 44th U.S. President
Barrack Obama once had a slice of blueberry pie at the Peterborough
Diner, according to Michael Samuels’ New
Hampshire’s Classic Diners
article in nhmagazine.com
2016 Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders recently stopped by the
Peterborough Diner to meet local, hard-working folks, including those
who work at the Diner!
Part of the 2006 indie movie Sensation
of Sight was filmed at The Peterborough Diner!
Peterborough Diner is located at 10 Depot St., Peterborough. Tel. (603)
924-6202. Web site: http://peterboroughdiner.com/.
Manchester treasure: the Red Arrow Diner. Photo credit: Red
Let’s cut to the chase: the Red Arrow Diner in Manchester is absolutely
tremendous. It is everything a diner should be and with the history and
commitment to culinary excellence to back it up. This legendary 24/7
diner definitely has a place at the top of any “Best of New England
Good news, too: the Milford
and Londonderry locations follow in that
high quality mode. Politicians and celebrities seem to frequent the Red
Arrow Diner when visiting Manchester, but much like the aforementioned
Lindy’s in Keene it's the common folk that frequent this diner that
dates back to 1922. Local conversations often take on an animated form
with the consumption of coffee often serving as an energy-producing
catalyst. This is a great place for pancakes, waffles, eggs, burgers,
tuna melts, club sandwiches, Monte Christos, spicy chili, fried
chicken, pork pies, meatloaf, bacon liver and onion, whoopie pies,
fruit pies and cakes. My visits to the Red Arrow have usually involved
the turkey dinner with stuffing and cranberry sauce -- it's the next
best thing to a Thanksgiving meal!
Red Arrow Diner features some of the best baked goods from a
diner in New England.
Interesting Red Arrow Diner tidbits: WMUR-TV, Channel 9 in Manchester,
reported in a June 13, 2012, article entitled NH diner makes
appearance in upcoming Sandler film
that Adam Sandler is a huge fan of the Red Arrow Diner: “Sandler is
still a regular at the diner when he's in New Hampshire, but he's been
coming to the Red Arrow for years. He even has his own booth and his
own burger.” The Red Arrow Diner was recreated in a Marblehead,
Massachusetts, toy shop for a set location scene in Sandler’s movie
Grownups 2, according to WMUR
Many politicians seem to enjoy the Red Arrow Diner as much as Sandler
-- 95% of the candidates have visited the diner – and some of them even
twice -- according to the Red Arrow Diner web site.
During his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump stopped for lunch
at the Red Arrow Diner on Monday, Jan. 11. He was quoted in the Jan. 11
Wall Street Journal article Donald Trump on David Bowie, Diner Food
saying of the Red Arrow Diner “This is great food. I love this kind of
According to Heather Haddon who wrote the article, Trump ordered the
Newton Burger, a Red Arrow Diner original with a burger topped with
fried mac and cheese and cheese sauce between two grilled cheese
On another interesting note, the Red Arrow might just be the first
smoke-free diner in the country, having made the decision in 1998.
The Manchester Red Arrow Diner is located at 61 Lowell St., Manchester.
Tel. (603) 626-1118. Web site: http://www.redarrowdiner.com/.
Counter, booths, tile floor at the Roundabout Diner. Photo
credit: Roundabout Diner.
The Roundabout Diner is a relative newcomer to the diner scene, as
it took over this Bickford's Pancake House location in the early 21st
century. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the Roundabout looks and
feels like an authentic diner and often takes typical diner food to the
next level by prioritizing locally-sourced food made from scratch.
Sure, you'll find all the diner staples here like meatloaf, chicken pot
pie, burgers, pancakes, waffles, omelets, frappes and sundaes, but also
health conscious choices like gluten free vegetable soup, an artichoke
tomato melt and spinach salad. Expect a touch of Maine cuisine here,
too, like lobster rolls, lobster club sandwiches, fish and chips made
from local haddock, and wild Maine Blueberry pie. The
Roundabout also features a lounge!
Owner Dan Posternak says that while his diner isn’t exactly out of the
historic Worcester Dining Car mode, the respect to old time diners
lives strongly and faithfully at the Roundabout.
“We play 50s music in the background, have neon, checkerboard floors,
booth seats, a dessert case, waitresses wearing t-shirts with diner
lingo,” said Posternak. “So many of the food items are diner staples
like our corned beef. We do it better, though, as we grind it
ourselves, slow cook it and offer a thick cut.”
Posternak adds that it’s the “diner food with a twist” that also
elevates the Roundabout. The diner offers a turkey meatloaf, uses a
Challah bread from the well-known When Pigs Fly Bakery in Kittery,
Maine, and employs an experienced in-house pastry chef, Ashley Tardugno.
“She has a phenomenal following, making everything from scratch like
the banana cream pie” said Posternak. “People come here sometime just
for the desserts. When she is working out back and has too many
leftovers, I can’t resist tasting the sweets!”
A master pastry chef creates these sweets at the Roundabout
Diner. Photo credit: Roundabout Diner.
The Roundabout knows that food, alone, however, can’t tell the whole
Posternak, who has owned several restaurants in his career including
the former Muddy River Smokehouse in Portsmouth, said, “I have been in
the restaurant business for 40 years, but this is the most successful
one yet. It’s not just about the food, it’s also about appearance,
decor, service, cleanliness and, really, the overall experience. If you
have a good product people will come to you. We have 200 seats,
so there’s little room for error.”
Interesting Roundabout Diner tidbits: Posternak said that Donald Trump
ate at the Roundabout a few years back when he flew into nearby Pease
Air Force Base and made news when questioning President Obama’s birth
certificate. Former Boston Celtics basketball legend and NBA Hall of
Fame inductee Dave Cowens frequents the Roundabout. Former Boston
Bruins center Ken Linseman has dined here, too, as well as jazz great
Grover Washington, Jr., and 50s rock idol Chubby Checker, according to
The Roundabout Diner is located at 580 Portsmouth Traffic Circle,
Portsmouth. Tel. (603) 431-1440. Web site:
Tilt'n Diner: real diner, real food. Photo
credit: Tilt'n Diner with permission from Erica Murphy.
￼Although the Tilt’n Diner opened in Tilton in June 1992, the diner was
built in 1953 by the O’Mahoney Diner Company and known as the Monarch
Diner in Waltham. That might come to a surprise to many, as the Tilt’n
Diner is so well kept and preserved that it almost seems like a modern
diner made to look like an old time diner. It’s really the best of both
worlds, as the authentic diner atmosphere shines through while
customers can take comfort in a clean, bright, reconstructed and
renovated happy space that crowds of 21st century people absolutely
love. The overall food quality and a fun atmosphere rank amongst the
best, but it’s the consistency of the place that also probably keeps
people coming back. I have never had a bad meal or sub-par
experience here, and many friends have said the same thing.
What could have been a few red flags turns out to be, ultimately, good
things. Full disclosure: the Common Man of Family Restaurants is a New
Hampshire-based business that owns a chain of restaurants. Normally the
words “Chain” and “Diner” do not mix well, but that’s not the case
here. With no vested interest in saying this, The Common Man goes to
great lengths to offer some fabulous restaurants throughout New
Hampshire. The Common Man restaurants have their own identity, and
thankfully bereft of any chain restaurants elements. They are to be
commended for corporate integrity and the Tilt’n Diner, to me, remains
at the apex of the list.
Second, the Tilt’n Diner is located near the Tanger Outlet Center.
Honestly, how many great restaurants are located near a shopping
outlet? Don’t most shopping outlets have chain restaurants in and
around the businesses? The Tilt’n Diner certainly stands out as a rare,
fantastic eating place near a shopping outlet. The Diner is also
a great stop, en route to the Lake Winnipesaukee region, the White
Mountains of New Hampshire, New Hampshire International Speedway in
Loudon, and Vermont.
Try the homemade turkey dinner with all the "fixin's" and you'll wonder
why you spent twice the amount in some overrated urban restaurant.
Sample the tangy and ample macaroni and cheese and you'll understand
how phony the market brands are. Taste the seafood chowder and wonder
if Rand McNally possibly made a mistake and that the Town of Tilton is
actually on the Maine seacoast. Breakfast is also quite popular with
hearty servings of pancakes, waffles, omelets and all the usual
delicious morning suspects!
Other standout dishes include the wonderful homemade meatloaf dinner, a
high end restaurant caliber caesar salad, a flavorful and abundant tuna
melt and, as a side, perfectly formed french fries.
Of course, the frappes, flavored colas, pies, chocolate layer cake,
grape-nut custard and hot fudge sundaes are the stuff that make diners
so sweet. The Tilt’n Diner also makes a phenomenal Toll House Pie
served warm with Common Man-made vanilla ice cream, hot fudge and
whipped cream (it does contain walnuts, if you are allergic to this
The Tilt'n Diner serves breakfast, lunch and dinner under lots of neon
within two dining rooms and the classic diner car-- all set to the
background music of the Elvis Presley, the Coasters, Five Satins, Buddy
Holly and other 1950s stars. It is one of the "feel good" restaurants
of New England, enhanced by a friendly, sometimes wisecracking
waitstaff and absolutely marvelous food.
Pancakes with strawberries and whip cream from the Tilt'n Diner.
Photo credit: Tilt'n Diner with permission from Erica
You'll leave the Tilt'n Diner wishing that they would franchise into
every community in the United States. They haven't franchised, however,
so the next time you're in, say, a 50-mile radius of Tilton, make sure
you experience the Tilton Diner. It is indeed a true gem and very
Interesting Tilt’n Diner tidbit: The Associated Press once called the
Tilt’n Diner a "must stop" on the New Hampshire Presidential Primary
campaign trail... The Tilt’n Diner web site states that Parenting NH magazine called the
Diner a “family favorite” and “kid’s favorite
breakfast place,” while a “Voted best family friendly dining” appeared
in New Hampshire Magazine.
Tilt’n Diner is located at 61 Laconia Rd., Tilton. Tel. (603) 286-2204.
The Best Diners in Rhode Island
Jukebox and neon sign at the Blue Plate Diner in Middletown.
The Blue Plate Diner looks so appealing at night with all its neon.
That welcoming diner signal translates, inside, to some fabulous diner
fare with a twist -- that is, a place that serves black angus beef,
herb-rubbed statler chicken breast, lime marinated fish tacos, curry
chicken salad (with mixed greens, strawberries, walnuts, red onion, and
curry yogurt sauce), and other dishes that you might not see at a
While nice that the Blue Plate Diner occasionally goes upscale and
creative, the main attraction here is familiar diner food done better
than most, including big traditional breakfasts (pancakes, omelets,
French toast, to name a few), chicken noodle soup, burgers and clubs,
hot turkey dinners, chicken pot pie, homemade beef chili, reubens, and
fish 'n chips. ￼
They also offer an impressive shakes and malts selection including
Mocha Dream (vanilla ice cream blended with chocolate syrup and
coffee), Black Forest Shake (chocolate ice cream with sweet raspberry
sauce), Peanut Butter & Jelly (vanilla ice cream, creamy peanut
butter and grape jelly in liquid form!), and Mom’s Apple Pie (apples,
cinnamon, graham crackers, brown sugar and vanilla ice cream). While on
the subject of “sweet,” the Blue Plate Diner also has an impressive
Bigger in size than most diners, the Blue Plate Diner still manages to
feel cozy and comfortable with a heaping serving of small town ambiance
with ample counter space, booths, a huge jukebox, and down-to-earth
service. The folks here also seems to have a great sense of humor with
“sayings” prominently displayed near the ceiling: “Thou Shalt Not
Hang Out And Order Nothing But Coffee”... “V1. Thou Shalt Tip Thy
The Blue Plate Diner is a great choice when in the Newport area, and
often a better choice than some of the restaurants with inflated prices
in that famous vacation spot.
Colorful salad that includes curried chicken salad from the Blue
Blue Plate Diner is located at 665 West Main Rd., Middletown. Tel.
(401) 848-9500. Web site: http://www.blueplatedinerri.com/.
Diner, North Scituate
Cindy's Diner has that wonderful roadside stop feel
The huge pink neon sign is, on its own, almost enough to make Cindy's
Diner a requisite diner stop, but this appealing Route 6 roadside stop
keeps the greatest diner hits of all time coming with its tile floor,
red swivel stools at the counter, vinyl red booths and chrome accents.
Built in the 1950s and operated by the current owner since 1984,
Cindy’s Diner is, without question, a beloved local eatery. While the
diner doesn't have the look of a classic diner car on the outside (with
the exception of that amazing sign), that's OK, as the ambiance,
comfort food selection, huge servings, quick service and rock bottom
prices more than make up for any historical shortcomings. Breakfast is
a strong suit here, but you can't go wrong, locals say, with lunch or
Some diner favorites include fish and chips, burgers (wow, this was so
good!), homemade corned beef hash (better than most), French toast,
pancakes, tuna melt, and pot roast. The homemade apple pie is simply
Tuna melt from Cindy's Diner.
Interesting Cindy’s Diner tidbits: Carol, at Cindy’s Diner, reports
that many years ago a 400 lb. pig escaped from a local farm and ended
up eating pumpkins outside the the Diner. The farmer eventually
recovered his twisted pig. After this unusual occurrence, Cindy’s Diner
put a sign out front of its business, “Fresh Pigs.”
Carol also says that many famous local politicians have eaten at
Cindy’s Diner, including former Providence Mayor, the late Buddy Cianci.
Cindy’s Diner is located at 46 Hartford Ave. (Route 6), North Scituate.
Tel. (401) 934-2449. Web site: https://www.facebook.com/CindysDinerRI/.
The Modern Diner is actually an old-time diner.
This customized and factory built 1941 “streamliner” dining car was
actually the first diner in the United States to be included on the
National Register of Historic Places in 1978. Once called the Ocean
State Diner, they also sued Disney and won after finding out they used
the diner’s image, according to Roadside America
(http://www.roadsideamerica.com/tip/12379). So, this was never a
“Mickey Mouse” operation, as one can plainly see!
After having eaten at the Modern Diner, however, I can now understand
why the diner’s name is actually relevant. They appeal to working class
America, as well as the fickle hipster crowd, with unusual dishes like
lobster eggs Benedict, challah stuffed brie French toast, jalapeno
bacon grits with eggs and the typical like burgers, club sandwiches,
and bacon and eggs. Recently, the Food Network chose the Modern Diner's
Custard French toast as the number one meal in its Top 5 Diner
Dishes in America. Food Network hosts Geoffrey Zakarian and
Anderson made the announcement on the Top
5 Restaurants show on
Monday, Nov. 30, 2015.
The Food Network describes how the dish came to be: "...the birthplace
of the diner, Modern Diner is operated inside of an old rail car just
like the first diners were. Nick Demou and his father opened the place
28 years ago. Since then the restaurant’s top dish has become the
Custard French toast, born out of an accident. Fifteen years ago Nick
had made too much vanilla pudding, so he thinned it down and served it
as a custard on French toast made from thick-cut Texas toast. It also
includes a topping of fresh strawberries, blueberries, sliced kiwi,
house-candied pecans and raspberry syrup."
Custard French toast from the Modern Diner.
I saw some Johnson and Wales University culinary school students (could
their loud, food-based conversation and school references) seeming to
enjoy the food just as much as some construction workers (could also
tell from their loud conversation and house construction references).
That speaks volumes about the Modern Diner — a place that knows it
traditional roots and 21st century appeal.
The Modern Diner also has a newer dining area, but I like the old cable
dining car best for the authentic diner feel. Also, it should be noted
that the Modern Diner only accepts cash, not credit cards. That’s fine;
maybe that’s why the prices are so low.
The Food Network definitely got it right when speaking high praise for
the Custard French toast. This is one of the most flavorful,
substantial dishes I have ever tasted at a diner. Phenomenal!
The “Jimmie Gimmie” is also a classic favorite: two poached eggs on an
English muffin with sliced tomatoes and top with melted cheese and
bacon and served with home fries.
The chili, homemade beef stew, white chowder (Fridays only), and daily
specials (30+ of them posted on the wall!) like meatloaf, liver and
onions, boneless chicken dinner, hot dogs and beans and fish and chips
are amongst the more popular menu items. The Modern Diner also serves
mimosas and Bloody Marys for fans of adult beverages.
Expect lines at any time of the day. What a fabulous diner -- certainly
right around the top of the “best diners” in New England!
Interesting Modern Diner tidbits: The Modern Diner is one of two known
surviving Sterling Streamliner diners -- a diner in the shape of a
streamlined train called the Sterling Streamliner from 1939 -- still in
operation. The other Sterling Streamliner: the Salem Diner in Salem,
Modern Diner is located at 364 East Ave., Pawtucket. Tel.
(401)726-8390. Web site: https://moderndinerri.com/.
Lots of chrome and neon at the Patriots Diner in Woonsocket.
This neon and chrome beauty located just outside downtown Woonsocket
gets high marks from us for a dedication to home-cooked meals, a big
menu that has something for everyone, huge portions, and convenience
for being open 24/7. Whether breakfast platters, three egg omelets,
French toast, pancakes, waffles, soups, burgers, triple decker club
sandwiches, Greek and Italian specialties, steak and chicken dinners,
fried seafood platters or gigantic desserts, it's all good. No, make
We have never had a bad meal here and almost always, an excellent one.
My favorite dishes include pastichio (baked macaroni and ground beef,
topped with a creamy cheese sauce), the beef gyros, spinach pie, the
Monte Christo, baked meatloaf dinner, triple decker sandwiches, fish
and chips, Greek salad with a heaping amount of feta cheese, and the
New Englander -- apple/cinnamon pancakes topped with apples, cinnamon
and whipped cream. Some other popular dishes within that truly
extensive menu: fried whole clams, fried clam strips, fisherman’s
platter, broiled salmon, chicken parm, spaghetti and meatballs, sirloin
tips platter, baked meatloaf, sliced open hot turkey sandwich, New
England clam chowder, Stuffed French toast (raspberry or strawberry jam
and cream cheese, topped with nuts), and the N.Y. sirloin with three
eggs, sliced tomato, home fries and toast.
Gyro plate from the Patriots Diner in Woonsocket.
Like all great diners, the service is down-to-earth and dependable.
It’s not just the older waitresses -- the younger generation of hired
help is sharp, attentive and personable. Let’s face it, you don’t
always see that in the service sector. Additionally, the cooks, while
intense and focused in the kitchen, occasionally peak their heads out
to acknowledge the customers. That’s really a nice touch.
Next to the Maine Diner in Wells, Maine, the aforementioned Modern
Diner in Pawtucket, the Red Arrow in Manchester, N.H., and a few others
that come and go in the forefront of my mind from time to time, the
Patriots Diner is amongst my top five favorite diners in New England.
The reasoning is simple: it’s all about the food here, the real diner
atmosphere and traditional diner waitresses making you feel at home,
all making it clear that you are in a diner with abundant spirit and
Patriots Diner is located at 65 Founders Dr. Woonsocket. Tel.
(401)765-6900. Web site: http://www.patriotsdiner.com/index.php.
Nice airplane theme at the Seaplane Diner in Providence.
Located next to a former seaplane port, this O'Mahoney-style vintage
silver diner from either the 1940s or 50s (conflicting info here) was
once located in nearby Woonsocket (everything in tiny Rhode Island is
nearby!) before moving in 1973 to its Providence location.
Its “Omelette French Toast” was once featured on the Food Network's
Rachel Ray Show! Open for breakfast, lunch and, at this writing,
dinner, the Seaplane Diner delivers pretty much everything you'd expect
in a classic diner including Salisbury steak, pastrami and swiss on
rye, stuffed French toast, waffles and pancakes, burgers and some Greek
touches like the lamb gyro. The Oreo pancakes is a great idea. We love
the large model airplane perched above the exterior sign!
Interesting Seaplane Diner tidbit: Rhode Island Monthly included
the Diner’s meatloaf in its 2002 Best of Rhode Island; Best Diners
section. According to a Quohog.com article
(http://www.quahog.org/cuisine/index.php?id=80), “the diner was hidden
behind a plywood facade and topped with a mansard roof, but the siding
was removed in the late 1990s revealing the glorious stainless steel
Seaplane Diner is located at 307 Allens Ave., Providence. Tel. (401)
The Best Diners in Vermont
A true Bennington attraction: the Blue Benn Diner. Photo
credit: Marylou Monroe at the Blue Benn Diner.
The Blue Benn Diner often appears in “Best of New England” diner
articles, or in general conversations. That’s no surprise, given the
Blue Benn looks like a diner, smells like a diner in the most wonderful
ways, and feels like a diner. You’d be surprised how many diners in New
England have veered away from the traditional criteria that made them
great in the first place. The Blue Benn is not like that, thank
With most classic diner meals coming in at under $10, a friendly staff,
local conversations, counter and stools, booths, lots of stainless
steel, a barreled roof, jukeboxes within a historic dining railcar
going back to the 1940s, the Blue Benn really hits upon every element
that one could ever want in an old school diner.
Pancakes, French toast, omelets, burgers, pot roast, liver and onions,
fish and chips, fried clam strips, meatloaf, foot long hot dogs, roast
turkey homemade pie are just a few of the familiar diner menu items to
satiate your comfort food soul, but there’s also a healthier element.
The Blue Benn has a longstanding, visionary reputation of serving up
meat-free dishes since the 1970s. Veggie lasagna, chili and meatloaf,
shiitake mushroom and broccoli stir fry and salads suggest a healthier,
21st century side to this retro diner. The Blue Benn also
features several Mexican and Middle Eastern items.
Another reason to love the Blue Benn Diner is that it’s located in
Bennington. What a pretty town, surely one of Vermont’s finest! How
nice to come across diners like the Blue Benn while traveling the
scenic Vermont country roads -- ideal for any “roadtripper” looking for
a great, cash-only home-cooked meal!
Interesting Blue Benn Diner tidbit: The
Huffington Post published a
Jan. 28, 2015, article, The 21 Best Diners in America (by Kevin
Alexander and Liz Childers with the Blue Benn included in that list.
Alexander and Childers wrote in their glowing review: “Normally, I’d
say to sit at the diner counter, but, here, fight for a booth with its
wall-mounted jukebox (the counters have them, but it’s common knowledge
that no one likes to share their old-school country picks with other
eaters): $.25 gets you two songs, and I feel confident saying that
mixed berry pancakes sized larger than your head taste better with
Patsy Cline crooning.”
The Blue Benn Diner is located at 314 North St. (Route 7), Bennington.
Chelsea Royal Diner, Brattleboro.
The Chelsea Royal Diner is housed in a 1938 railroad car diner and
prioritizes locally sourced ingredients -- that's a good thing in
Vermont with all its farms, and significant cheese and maple
The pricing is fair, service quick, food yummy and selections plentiful
for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Daily blue plate specials include pan
fried chicken, turkey croquettes, grass fed sirloin steak, chicken
fried pork, Yankee pot roast, roast leg of lamb and fried clam strips.
In addition to diner fare, the Chelsea Royal Diner offers pizza,
Mexican cuisine and homemade ice cream. According to its web site, the
Chelsea Royal Diner is part of the Vermont Fresh Network, "Serving all
grass-fed beef, our own back-yard eggs, veggies from our garden, local
produce from neighboring farms."
I recently had a phenomenal grass-fed burger with cheese (from the
nearby Grafton Village Cheese Company), horseradish, onion and a fresh
Grass-fed burger from Chelsea Royal Diner.
While the food is tremendous and often a notch above standard diner
fare due to its commitment to resourcing locally, what I equally like
about the Chelsea Royal Diner is that the staff seems like they are all
good friends with each other. In between serving customers, you can
often hear waitresses conversing as if they were best friends. I got a
better vibe from the waitresses here than some of the customers -- that
is, a few out-of-towners that seemed uptight and only concerned with
getting to their “destination” (the local customers, though, are salt
of the earth). If some people only knew that the journey can be as
exciting as the destination --case in point, places like the Chelsea
Interesting Chelsea Royal diner tidbit: local artist Janet Picard's art
work is displayed throughout the diner. Her studio is located in the
barn behind the Royal Diner!
Chelsea Royal Diner is located at 487 Marlboro Rd., Brattleboro. Tel.
(802) 254-8399. Web site: www.chelsearoyaldiner.com/.
Bellows Falls Diner, Bellows Falls (CLOSED)
Miss Bellows Falls Diner. Photo credit: Brandi Davis.
What a trip back in time -- not only the old 1930s rail car ambiance
but also the locals talking it up, welcoming service, original
woodwork, and the general feeling of taking one step from the 21st
century sidewalk into a warm slice of nostalgia in the form of a diner.
The food is solid, especially the great value for the money at
breakfast -- huge portions and very tasty!
While the food is fine -- pancakes (with real maple syrup upon
request), French toast, eggs, burgers, the usual diner fare -- the Miss
Bellows Falls Diner might be one of the few diners listed in this book
where the atmosphere might have a slight edge over the food as the most
impressive part of the diner. That is, by no means, a slight on the
food. It’s just that the totally unpretentious, authentic look of a
diner in the imperfect but incredibly friendly Bellows Falls community
resonated most with me. The 16X30 diner size is small, but
certainly comes with an eternally big heart!
With a few exceptions, the original diner remains completely
intact and you can almost feel the history with every step, perspective
and even aroma -- and we are not talking about the food on the latter.
Let me preface this by saying the Miss Bellows Falls Diner is very
clean, but then go on to say that there is a certain wonderful smell in
old buildings, homes and diners that evokes a more innocent and simple
age -- but cannot really be described fully, but only experienced.
While the current staff works hard and so admirably in every aspect to
make this Vermont diner a special place, it’s almost like the friendly
ghosts of customers and staff have kept the spirit of the Miss Bellows
Diner alive. Being in the presence of history sometimes feels that way.
The unique barrel roof, polished aluminum, original woodwork, the
porcelain enameled metal sheathing yielding a polychrome color scheme,
the checkerboard-styled floor tile, and an overall Worcester Dining Car
look that draws from 19th century railroad passenger cars certainly
helps the atmospheric cause. It would be safe to say that the Miss
Bellows Diner is in the minority of virtually unaltered diners in this
part of the country -- at least from what I have seen. That, alone is
worth the price of visiting although you, again, will certainly get an
excellent, basic meal here.
Interesting Miss Bellows Falls Diner tidbit: According to the
Connecticut River Joint Commissions web site
(http://www.crjc.org/heritage/V06-23.htm), the Miss Bellows Falls Diner
stands as the only completely intact example in Vermont of the
barrel-roofed Worcester Lunch Car produced by the Worcester Lunch Car
Miss Bellows Falls Diner is located at 90 Rockingham St., Bellows
Falls. Tel. (802) 463-3700.
At the counter in the Miss Lyndonville Diner, Lyndonville.
From the name to the dining experience, there is kind of a sweet
feeling -- so greatly missing in restaurants today -- when visiting the
Miss Lyndonville Diner. Even if the Miss Lyndonville Diner didn't have
diner decor and ambiance, the place would still feel like a trip back
I think that the Miss Lyndonville Diner's greatness resides in its
authenticity -- not diner authenticity, necessarily, but the kind of
down-to-earth feeling that you get from a close-knit family outing.
It's like you've arrived in someone's living room, while waiting for
that piping hot homemade food to be lovingly served. Now I can't say
that it is like this all the time at the Miss Lyndonville Diner, but it
was certainly the case the times we dined there. Everything we've had
at the Miss Lyndonville Diner is terrific, but I recommend going with
breakfast at the counter or booths -- especially the pancakes, muffins,
and anything you can put real Vermont maple syrup on! The roast turkey
dinner and maple cream pie for lunch or dinner are out-of-this-world.
I love looking at the Miss Lyndonville Diner menu almost much as eating
the food. It is one of those menus that builds up the appetite
with its nice drawing of the Diner, handwritten-style “Miss
Lyndonville” font, food photos and appetizing names and
descriptions like “Vermont Breakfast Sampler” (two buttermilk pancakes,
two strips of bacon, two sausage links, two eggs). Or, how about the
“Country Homefry Casserole” (home fries, sausage, onion and cheddar
cheese topped with two eggs. and served with homemade toast). Then
there’s the “Maple Cured Ham Steak” with raisin sauce, “The Vermonter”
(a “grilled patty, served open face on a toasted roll with plenty of
steak fries all smothered with beef gravy, and 3 lettuce blend with
fresh cucumber, tomato and red potato slices,)” and the “Fresh
Strawberry and Blueberry Pie.” It’s the kind of menu that is not only
extensive, but extends a kind of feeling back to childhood when, on
vacation, we loved looking at long, descriptive roadside restaurant
menus and getting a whiff of that homemade food from the kitchen. I
know, those are simple thoughts, but that’s the point: you should never
forget the little things because someday they become the big things
that provide sustenance in the memory sector of our hearts.
The Miss Lyondonvile Diner feels like the ideal place to stop in after
a day in the fresh country air, a cool Vermont morning with the fog
lifting, skiing at Burke Mountain (for the record, I am not a skier but
love the season!), foliage drives, or any time of the year in the
beautiful Northeast Kingdom. There’s just something so nice about
coming in from the rural environs in the morning and into a diner with
the smell of hot coffee, the aroma of fresh muffins coming out right
out of the stove, the talk of the town going on at the counter, and
generally seeing local Vermonters awaken as a close-knit community.
The Miss Lyndonvile Diner always seems busy, at least when I have
visited through the years, and that is a real testimony to the Diner.
There are other quality choices in the region for breakfast, lunch and
dinner, but the Miss Lyndonville Diner seems to have that magic touch
that not only brings in the locals, but also vacationers like us. The
food and atmosphere are certainly factors in this appeal, but there’s
this almost unexplainable “X factor” that can only be experienced by
being there. If in the area more and relying on dining out at local
restaurants for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I wouldn’t mind coming
back here twice in the same day.
Originally starting as a Sterling diner car in 1951 at the current
location, the Miss Lyndonville Diner, unfortunately, suffered a fire in
1979 when the establishment was soon gutted but quickly renovated.
Thank goodness for the reopening -- this is one of the most welcoming
diners in New England!
Interesting Miss Lyndonville Diner tidbit: throughout its history, the
Miss Lyndonville Diner has been a special occasions place. Owner Janet
Gray told NewsLinc in a Nov. 22, 2013, interview
that “We’ve had people bring their newborn babies here on the way home
from the hospital, and people coming before their engagement parties.”
Miss Lyndonville Diner is located at 686 Broad St., Lyndonville. Tel.
A charming, small town diner in Putney.
On a low-budget day trip to Vermont a few years back, things definitely
started off on the right track with a stop at the Putney Diner where I
feasted on a huge roast turkey sandwich with homemade stuffing and
cheddar cheese for just under $9. The turkey was freshly carved — none
of this slimy, fake turkey (or real turkey that somehow doesn’t taste
real) -- no surprise, as the Putney Diner carves its own turkey every
day. The turkey sandwich came with some delicious French fries and cole
Other popular items include reubens, burgers, homemade cinnamon buns,
pies and muffins, and “fluffy” pancakes (served with real Vermont maple
syrup) On my last visit, the staff and locals at the Putney Diner were
mighty friendly, kind of unintentionally offering a “Welcome to
Vermont” greeting better than any tourism board could ever and
suggestions on what to see and do in the area without a trace of vested
marketing and tourism leanings (maybe because they are not in that
business!). Although the Putney Diner borders on being more of a
restaurant than a diner, the counter section and small town vibe gives
this local favorite enough "oomph" to still be considered a diner. I
was incredibly impressed and would make this a "go-to" place for
breakfast and dinner, too. Every town would be so lucky to have a
Putney Diner where fresh food is the focus.
Putney Diner is located at 128 Main St., Putney. Tel. (802) 387-5433.
Web site: https://www.facebook.com/theputneydiner/.
About the Author
Eric Hurwitz writes straight from the heart on New England travel for
his readers on VisitingNewEngland.com. A lifelong New Englander,
Hurwitz has covered many aspects of New England travel since 2001 but
with a particular interest in sharing hidden travel destinations with
his audience. Hurwitz holds a bachelors degree in journalism from
Suffolk University in Boston, Massachusetts, and spent 20-plus years as
a reporter, assistant editor, and public affairs specialist in the
public and private sectors before starting his work of love,
You can read more of Eric’s travel articles at:
VisitingNewEngland.com - http://www.visitingnewengland.com/
Thrifty New England Traveler - http://www.visitingnewengland.com/blog-cheap-travel
Old School Boston - http://www.old-school-boston.blogspot.com/
Great New England Travel Read
Eric is also the author of Massachusetts Town Greens (Globe Pequot, May
2016), a book that explores the history of town commons in
Massachusetts, as well as providing a guide to current events.
This one-of-a-kind book serves as a great traveling companion for
United States travel and history lovers, especially for those that
enjoy discovering New England travel. Consider this book your
word-of-mouth resource for local town greens! You can purchase the book
For more New England dining tips, please visit the
VisitingNewEngland.com Dining Guide at http://www.visitingnewengland.com/dining.html
Massachusetts travel! Read
Town Greens book -- Discover New England's first travel
town commons. Includes chapters on 70 towns commons in Massachusetts,
including the Boston Common, Lexington Battle Green and Monument Square
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visit to the historic Bull Run Restaurant in Shirley, Mass.
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