Sure, fancy dinners are nice, but sometimes life calls for a hamburger and fries. Whether you’re in search of old school eats or you’re wanting something a little more trendy, these Chicago diners are so much more than a greasy spoon.
This city staple is a real down-home, classic spot, complete with black and white checkered floors and red barstools (not to mention tons of Chicago sports memorabilia decorating the walls). And the food is exactly what you would expect from your favorite diner: big portions and no frills, but the grub served up here is anything but ordinary. Palace is known for their three-egg omelets, which you can grab all day, along with their infamous “heart-stopper” egg sandwiches with all the fixins’. With affordable prices and an ultra-casual atmosphere, this is the place you want to take the whole family on the weekend.
1408 W. Madison St., Chicago
At first glance, Little Goat may check all of the traditional “diner” boxes (countertop service, kitschy wallpaper, grilled cheese on the menu), but this isn’t your average hole-in-the-wall. The comfort food here is kicked up a few notches (think french toast topped with crispy chicken and maple syrup. And that grilled cheese? It’s served on bacon gouda bread). Plus the ambiance is decidedly hip, with modern light fixtures and an Instagram-worthy neutral color palate. Reservations are highly recommended for this hot spot, but the adjacent bakery is fun to peruse if you have to wait for a table.
820 W. Randolph St., Chicago
You don’t have to be vegetarian to appreciate the plant-based cuisine at this Chicago staple. The diner serves up tasty favorites like seitan buffalo “wings,” nachos and a variety of meatless burgers. They also have a mouth-watering brunch menu that you can grab until 3 p.m. And if scrambled tofu isn’t your thing, the diner does have cage-free eggs available. Whatever you decide to order, make sure to finish off your meal with a vegan milkshake. They taste exactly like the real thing and the diner is famous for these over-the-top “ice cream” concoctions.
Logan Square: 2333 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, Halsted: 3411 N. Halsted St., Chicago
Does it get more “diner” than a plate of lox? You can find that old-school favorite, along with a seriously gigantic variety of greasy spoon goodies at this downtown eatery, located inside the historic Pittsfield building. The picky eaters in your family will have plenty to choose from, with everything from Chicago-style hot dogs to every kid’s favorite, chicken tenders, on the menu. Finish off the meal with apple pie ala mode to complete the diner experience. Bonus: the restaurant is just around the corner from Millenium Park, making it a great place to take out-of-town guests to breakfast or lunch.
55 E. Washington St., Chicago
Feeling a little bit cheesy (both literally and figuratively)? This Wicker Park diner, featuring a colorful “Hollywood” sign mural and decadent menu, fits the bill. The shining star of Hollywood Grill is its extensive children’s menu, offering kid-friendly fare like Mickey Mouse pancakes, mac and cheese and chicken fingers. Even better? Kids eat for just $2.50 from 2-10 p.m. Monday-Wednesday. Adults can nosh on classics like bacon and eggs and meatloaf, or banana and Nutella crepes, and chicken pesto paninis for the more adventurous eaters.
1601 W. North Ave., Chicago
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