Around the world, one dish at a time.

The Art of the Roadside Diner

Couple posing by a classic scarlet convertible.

What makes a good ride?

Besides high-quality tyres, it’s a promise of a steaming hot meal that helps you survive the long distance drives which make an American road trip so great.

Classic American roadside diners are the classic pit stop on any road trip. There’s usually far more gourmet fare to be found elsewhere, but that’s not the point of a diner.

Here’s seven good reasons you should pick a diner when you do your next American road trip. There’s even a little bit about their surprising and fascinating history.

They’re Social Places

American diners aren’t about food in the first place. They are about communication. For decades, they’ve been an integral part of life in American communities. The first diners were a venue for factory workers who met there before or after night shifts and often found the food and the atmosphere sweeter than their home.

They’re Open All Hours

Classic diners open early and close late. Some of them are open 24 hours a day. The perfect spot to break one of those long drives America does so well.

They’re Anonymous

Just look at Tarantino’s True Romance. Anyone and everyone, from Samuel L Jackson to a wannabe Bonnie & Clyde can fit into a diner and look great. Wear what you want and come as you like.

They’re Affordable

A major plus.

They’re Classic Design

Originally, diners were just railway dining cars with their wheels removed. Most of the space was taken up by a long service counter with bar stools for patrons. Later, diners were manufactured in factories in the same “narrow and long” style and transported to the restaurant site by railway car. A few of these vintage diners are still operating, for example, the Palace Diner in Biddeford, ME. Today, diners are usually built on site and tend to be significantly larger, but many of them still use metal.

They’re Indie

Or at least they should be! A diner should be a small business operated by a local owner. Stay away from franchises and chains.

They Do the Ultimate American Breakfast

Although diners operate all day long, breakfast time is their hour of triumph. Feast on milkshakes, pies, fried chicken, omelette, grits, pancakes, muffins – oh, and burgers if you must.