10 Best Diner Chains in the U.S., According to Diners

Get a good breakfast or try some lunch and dinner fare at these famed restaurants.

Customers have breakfast at a diner
Updated June 6, 2024
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Diners are a great option for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, where you know you can get a good plate of eggs or the perfect patty melt.

And while grabbing a bite at your favorite regional chain may not help you save on groceries, they are generally a tasty and affordable place to fill your belly

Check out some of these diners to see if your favorites hit a grand slam and made the list.

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Waffle House

jetcityimage/Adobe waffle house

Waffle Houses is a southern institution, so if you live above the Maxon-Dixon line or west of the Mississippi, you may not have had the pleasure of dining there, but if you’re a fan of SEC football and sweet tea, you can most likely find one close by.

Waffle House offers plenty of breakfast options with different choices to customize your favorite dishes — scattered, smothered, and chunked hashbrowns, anyone? And, of course, their namesake waffle which is available in a variety of specialty flavors.

Chef Anthony Bourdain once said of Waffle House, “It never closes. It is always, always faithful, always there for you.”


Tracy King/Adobe dennys restaurant sign

Another favorite for breakfast fans is Denny’s, with its legendary Grand Slam breakfast that includes a traditional take on pancakes, eggs, bacon, and sausage.

The menu also includes some comfort food options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and older customers can specifically choose options from a 55+ menu to save money. And don’t forget the fan-favorite Sante Fe skillet — the perfect mash-up of chorizo, bell peppers, and eggs.

“The breakfast skillets at Denny's are so incredible,” said one Redditor.

Steak ‘n Shake

jetcityimage/Adobe steak n shake retail restaurant

Steak ‘n Shake is known for its steakburgers, fries, and other typical diner food like chicken fingers.

But fans of the diner really enjoy it for the shakes. They come in a variety of flavors from typical options like chocolate and vanilla to more unique choices with Butterfinger, Snickers, or peanut butter cups mixed in.

“Steak & Shake is extremely underrated,” raved one fan on Reddit. “Hard to beat for the price.”

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Try it

Black Bear Diner

Brett/Adobe black bear diner

You may not have heard of Black Bear Diner unless you live in one of the 13 western and midwestern states where it currently operates, but the chain has ambitious expansion plans.

The diner has a mountain west feel with plenty of options for adults and kids so you’re sure to have everyone in your family enjoying a bite.

“Large menu and larger portions,” described one Redditor.

Johnny Rockets

Walter Cicchetti/Adobe johnny rockets the original hamburger

Take a walk down memory lane with Johnny Rockets ‘50s style diner with plenty of options to try.

The menu includes hamburgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, and sides like tots and fries. You can also pick from a variety of shake options, including Oreo flavors. “Good ice and good milkshakes,” stated a fan on Reddit.

Bob Evans

jetcityimage/Adobe bob evans restaurant

Head to Bob Evans for some farmhouse favorites like chicken fried steak and turkey dinners.

You’ll also want to check out the restaurant’s dessert options, including pies like a double-crust apple pie or Reese’s peanut butter cup pie.

“Their sunrise scramble is one of my favorite meals,” one Redditor said.

Some of Bob Evans’ favorite menu picks, such as mashed potatoes, sausage, and other sides, are also available in grocery stores if you want a taste of Bob Evans at home.


JHVEPhoto/Adobe close up ihop restaurant sign

It’s much easier to say IHOP instead of International House of Pancakes, and it’s easy to remember there’s more than just pancakes at your favorite IHOP.

The restaurant also offers plenty of breakfast, lunch, and dinner options and has a 55+ menu if you’re retired and on a tight budget.

“For the classic experience just look at the menu and pick the pancake pile that has the stuff you want on it,” explained one Redditor.

Perkins Restaurant and Bakery

jetcityimage/Adobe perkins family restaurant and nakery

Perkins has your favorite breakfast items, from eggs to pancakes, as well as lunch and dinner items.

But you’ll also want to check out its selection of pies, including caramel apple, chocolate French silk, and coconut cream pie.

“I have been eating their French toast my entire life,” said Reddit user sully42.

Huddle House

wolterke/Adobe huddle house restaurant exterior

Southerners will be familiar with Huddle House with locations across the south in states like Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Texas.

The menu features breakfast fare as well as homestyle dinners like country fried steak, chopped steak, and fried shrimp.

“Huddle House has a bigger lunch and dinner menu” compared to Waffle House, according to one Redditor.

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BGStock72/Adobe friends eating in diner

East Coast breakfast lovers will recognize the friendly welcome of a Friendly’s.

The restaurant has plenty of breakfast, lunch, and dinner options, but your best choices are the unique sundaes you can get with plenty of fun toppings.

“Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Sundae with Cookies and Cream has been my jam for the last 30 years,” said a Friendly’s fan on Reddit.

Bottom line

SIX60SIX/Adobe classic breakfast diner

It can be fun to go to a diner and choose from plenty of options that are sure to please everyone.

You can also take advantage of extra benefits like an early bird menu or 55+ options for older adults who want to stretch their income.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen

Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.