Best Old School Chicago Diners

January 24, 2012 2:00 PM


Din-er [dahy-ner]

1. a person who dines.
2. A railroad dining car.
3. A restaurant built like such a car.
4. A small, informal, and usually inexpensive restaurant.

This article is not, in fact, about a railroad dining car.

But man! That would be cool if it was.

But it’s not. If there were enough railroad dining cars around Chicago to write an article about, I would, but there aren’t, so I can’t.

And here I am, settling for regular ol’ diners. It’s not the worst thing I could write about. I mean, diners are there for you when you need them. Not counting those numerous, drunken nights when a cheeseburger–so disgusting you wouldn’t eat sober–from an angelic diner has made you sober enough to stumble home, diners tend to be there for you, like a shoulder to cry on, but in restaurant form.

When your girlfriend kicked you out and you had nowhere else to go, what did you spend your last dollar on? That’s right, coffee at the diner.

Diners are wonderful; a loving mother willing to accept you back into the womb whenever the world beats you down.

Actually, no, that was gross.

Diners are great though. And, in honor of them, here are four great Chicago diners.

white palace Best Old School Chicago Diners


White Palace Grill has it all: a counter, booths, eggs, and lots and lots of history. They’ve been around forever, and I’m not just saying that because I’m too lazy to look up how long they’ve been around (1939). They’re open twenty-four hours and have all the breakfast food you could ever want. If you’re looking for the classic diner experience, this is the place to go.

lou Best Old School Chicago Diners


Lou Mitchell’s has been around even longer than White Palace Grill. Everyone, literally, everyone has been there. Presidents, actors and sports stars. Everyone.

They’ve got a long list of great food on their menu. Turkey Dinner, Southern Fried Chicken, Pan Fried Liver, Cantaloupe Stuffed With Tuna! Cantaloupe! Stuffed with tuna! Have you ever heard of something so crazy? You should go try it. Right now.

chicagodiner radicalreuben 310x240 Best Old School Chicago Diners


The Chicago Diner has one thing noticeably missing from their menu: meat. That’s right, they’re a meat-less diner.

Disgusting, I know.

But, somehow, despite all odds, against the wind, this diner has become successful without sweet, juicy meat. Fine, their burger doesn’t literally have beef in it, but it’s tasty! Plus, their baked goods are amazing. So don’t sell this diner short.

thecousinschicago Best Old School Chicago Diners


The Cousins offers some of the best sammiches, yes, sammiches around. Sammiches are what I call really good sandwiches. And, the best part about The Cousins: they deliver. You can order right off their website without ever having to interact with another human being. Isn’t that great!

Didn’t see your favorite diner on this list? Then tell us about it in the comment section!
Have a ‘Best Of Chicago’ suggestion? Send us your ideas to!
Mason Johnson, CBS Chicago

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