The diner is an American staple. Burgers and fries. Milkshakes. Breakfast. Whatever the dish, it’s always served up warm on a big plate (or two). Diners are known for their casual atmosphere, round-the-clock hours, and, most of all, their hearty meals, but Chicago diners are something special. Here are a few Chicago diners that uphold this American tradition, if sometimes with a twist.
Eleven City Diner
1112 S Wabash Avenue
Inspired by the nostalgia of trekking across the States and stopping into roadside diners full of charm along the way, Eleven City has that classic, old-school atmosphere you want to go with your burger and milkshake. Here, breakfast is served all day, including a make-your-own omelet bar, but don’t you dare sleep on their loaded mac-and-cheese either. Needless to say, Eleven City Diner has it all and more.
1545 N Damen Ave
Unlike the others on this list, Dove’s serves up tequila and mezcal to go with your Tex-Mex-style order. An intimate diner with counter seating throughout, you’ll feel like one of the family as you enjoy favorites like Burnt End Hash and Torta Ahogada. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Dove’s Luncheonette is committed to Southern hospitality on every level.
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1408 West Madison Street
The West Loop‘s oldest restaurant has classic diner written all over it. Black and white striped awnings. A stainless steel counter. Egg sandwiches known as “heart stoppers.” It’s no surprise that the Palace Grill has hosted plenty of celebrities in the past 79 years. Everyone from television personalities to prime ministers can enjoy good diner food here. And, apparently, the Blackhawks also have a hearty appreciation for this diner’s big portions. Stop in and you might find your team chowing down before practice.
Cozy Corner Restaurant & Pancake House
2294 North Milwaukee Avenue | 4356 West Diversey Avenue | 6349 North Clark Street | 5454 N Harlem Avenue
Even the name is cute. The Cozy Corner has four locations in Edgewater, Logan Square, Hermosa Park, and Norwood Park. They also have an expansive breakfast menu featuring eight different toppings for your pancakes in addition to a variety of omelets, skillets, waffles, and french toast. If you’re not in the mood for breakfast food, try one of their burgers, sandwiches, or wraps instead. And, whatever you order, make sure to enjoy it all in a cozy corner booth.
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The Chicago Diner
2333 North Milwaukee Avenue | 3411 North Halsted Street
So it’s not quite a traditional diner. As in, you won’t find any meat here. But even carnivores will love The Chicago Diner. Accompany your vegetarian or vegan breakfast, brunch, or lunch with one of the diner’s renowned vegan milkshakes and you’ll be wondering when you can come back for a second visit. And the Mac & Teese? More like Mac & Please Bring Some More Of This. The Chicago Diner is perfect for anyone craving warm comfort food who doesn’t want to see a slab of meat on their plate, or even non-vegans who’ll enjoy the cool and quirky atmosphere.
55 East Washington Street
Put together your typical diner fare, Chicago-style hot dogs, and spaghetti and meatballs and you’ll get the Pittsfield Cafe’s huge menu. This place has it all, from “The Best of the Best Breakfasts” to chicken parmesan. Bring your picky eater or a group with diverse tastes here and everyone is likely to find something they love.
3042 North Broadway
Stella’s has a pretty eye-catching exterior, and pretty hunger-smashing food. This place has been in Lakeview for around 50 years and despite many changes over the decades, it’s still around. Boasting classic diner breakfast favorites and delicious shakes at low prices, Stella’s has no trouble bringing in the crowd. Their outdoor seating makes for a great place to lounge, sip some coffee, and enjoy your eggs when the weather is nice. Otherwise, hope there’s an open booth near their huge front windows so you can watch the busy street outside and be glad you’re relaxing with a peanut butter shake.
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Whether it’s vegan or meaty, sweet, or savory, each of these places remembers the most important aspect of any traditional diner: comfort. With friendly service and a familial atmosphere, you’ll feel right at home at these Chicago diners, no matter where you choose to go.
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