There is nothing quite like the classic diner experience, where you are given a menu with extensive options: omelets, fries, triple-decker sandwiches, pastas, burgers and more. You can have breakfast for dinner and side dishes galore — the world is your gustatory oyster when ordering at a diner.
Good, old American diners are cultural institutions that pay homage to culinary adventure that can’t be found elsewhere in the world.
Furthermore, diners present a cross-section of people from all walks of life — from politicians talking public policy , to groups of girlfriends giggling over milkshakes, to the regular who comes in every morning for coffee and breakfast with his daily newspaper. Diners know no boundaries.
Gaining fame as “night lunch wagons” in the late nineteenth century, diners are now an iconic and unique part of American culture.
A man named Walter Scott introduced the first night lunch wagon in 1872, setting up shop right outside the Providence Journal, according to the American Diner Museum. Scott would sell food once restaurants had closed down for the night, serving everyone from late-night workers to those just looking for a good meal after dark.
Scott started a dining revolution. The concept of lunch wagons gained so much momentum they grew into rolling restaurants with a few stools inside for patrons to sit and eat. Rolling restaurants became known as lunch cars; lunch cars became known as dining cars.
And in 1924, dining cars simply became diners.
The name stuck, and so has our love for them. Diners have stood the test of time: Many of these historic eateries are still open today, serving up classic American staples around the country, ready and waiting for you to relish the old-school experience these establishments offer. We’ve rounded up 10 of the oldest and most authentic diners in the U.S. where you can get a hot meal and a cold shake right now.
Make the pilgrimage to Capitol Diner for its famous fresh fish sandwiches and for being one of the best diners in the country. Or why not honor Jersey City history with a visit to White Mana Diner, which earned its claim to fame as the diner of the future at the 1939 World’s Fair?
So if it is history, culture and good food you are after, then starting eating your way through our list of America’s 10 Oldest Diners.
Davie's Chuck Wagon Diner
Shipped by rail from New Jersey in 1957, Davies’ Chuck Wagon Diner in Lakewood, Colorado, is the last frontier of diners out West. With a horse perched atop its roof and a giant cowboy smiling at you from the road sign, you will definitely be roped into grabbing a bite.
Historic Village Diner
Once the Halfway Diner in Rhinebeck, New York, the Historic Village Diner came to Red Hook, New York in 1951. It’s known for its variety of freshly-baked desserts, and it’s famous for being the first diner in New York.
Alexandra E. Petri is the travel editor at The Daily Meal. You can follow her on Twitter @writewayaround