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15 Classic Old-School Diners in South Florida

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Plenty of fan favorites can be found
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Well before cafeterias, fritangas, and sushi bars became ubiquitous in South Florida, locals knew that if they wanted something delicious, filling, and wallet-friendly, they could always head to the local diner. In Miami, these iconic American eateries seem to have gone the way of manatees, panthers, and other endangered species as casual Latin restaurants and late night chains that resemble diners have taken over. Broward, on the other hand, has a much stronger diner game.

To clarify, a diner is a casual eatery that serves American food. While the exact definition of American food can be as contested as whether Miami or Tampa makes the better Cuban sandwich, it is generally accepted that the majority of a diner’s menu items wouldn’t typically be associated with any particular cuisine outside of the United States. Exceptions are made for ethnic dishes significant to a particular region of the country (like a Cuban sandwich in Miami or Tampa) and Greek food. Historically, many diners were Greek-owned and operated, and dishes like gyros and spinach and feta omelets have become menu staples. Perhaps of the most important feature of a diner, however, is its substantial variety of breakfast offerings, typically available all day.

To help you get a taste of this old-school American tradition, here is a list of 15 essential diners in South Florida in geographical order from north to south. See a favorite missing? Hit the tipline, the comments, or in the forums to make your case

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Peter Pan Diner

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While also a 24-hour Greek diner, this place offers a completely different people watching experience from Lester’s. It is a favorite last stop for Wilton Manors revelers after a night of bar hopping, meaning that you may catch a potpourri of club kids, drag queens, and even some leather clad macho guys enjoying some pancakes or a nicely charred burger and steak fries. There is also a separate full liquor bar in the back in case you want to keep the party going.

Peter Pan Diner
Florida Burger Lover

Ally's Comfort Cafe

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This breakfast and lunch spot has two Broward locations in Davie and Sunrise. Like many old-school diners, this is a family-run operation, and Ally, herself, does all the cooking along with her mom, husband, and kids when it gets busy on the weekends. Expect all the classics, plus its famous huge pancakes made with anything from chocolate chips to pecans.

Ally’s Comfort Cafe
Yelp/Alex G

Lester's Diner

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This 24-hour Greek diner has several locations throughout South Florida, but their Marina Mile outpost is perhaps the most iconic. Its location near the airport and sea port mean that everyone from flight crew to truckers end up. Their Greek specialties should not be missed, including a sampler big enough for two to share, and you should definitely save room for one of its mile-high cakes.

Lester's Diner
Yelp/Matt L.

Grampa's Bakery & Restaurant

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Even if Guy Fieri didn’t feature this diner and bakery on his show, there would still be a line to get into this Dania Beach staple for breakfast on the weekends. Several display cases of house-made cakes, cookies, and doughnuts will tempt you before you even sit down, and in case you forget that Grampa’s is also a bakery, the waitress will plop down a plate of warm, freshly baked pastries on the table once you place your order. As with all diners, expect to find most of your favorites here with one or two surprises.

Grampa's Bakery & Restaurant
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Jack's Hollywood Diner

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While many diners in South Florida occupy a strip mall space or a non-descript building, Jack’s is one of the few that actually looks like what you’d imagine a diner to appear. The 24-hour Hollywood mainstay has been in business for more than 60 years, and you can definitely taste the secret to its long-lasting success. Their gyro omelet is particularly noteworthy and Jack’s offers a pretty exceptional meatloaf, too.

Jack's Hollywood Diner
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Flashback Diner & Coffeehouse

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Night owls can find sustenance at this 24-hour diner with two locations in Hallandale Beach and Davie. This old Hollywood themed eatery offers most of the classics, as well as a selection of sandwiches named after celebrities. A few Greek specialties and even some more upscale options like steaks, chops, and seafood round out the menu if you really want to treat yourself.

Flashback Diner & Coffeehouse
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Plaza Diner

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This Miramar diner is a great place to get your fix of gyros, spanakopita, and pastitsio along with eggs any way you like them. The menu has all the usual suspects, just like you’d want in a diner, although one breakfast item that Plaza Diner is specifically know for: the heart attack sandwich. It features gyro meat, ham, sausage, bacon, three fried eggs, and cheese.

Plaza Diner
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Stadium Diner

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While Broward seems to have the lion’s share of Greek diners in South Florida, Miami certainly won’t let itself fall off the map. This Miami Gardens hidden gem serves up solid Greek standards along with American comfort classics. Its signature sandwich, Yanni’s Favorite, is certainly a draw: grilled rye bread stuffed with pastrami, sautéed veggies, hot sauce, and melted Swiss cheese.

Stadium Diner
Yelp/Dan C.

Ham & Eggery

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It’s hard to miss this North Miami Beach diner. Although the van painted to resemble the Mystery Machine from Scooby Doo is not always parked in front, the red barn exterior is sure to catch your attention. This lunch and dinner spot is known for its extensive list of breakfast classics, including the hard to find creamed chipped beef. If the menu doesn’t feel old-school enough, then the décor will certainly make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.

Ham & Eggery
Yelp/Dan C.

Jimmy's Place

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This North Miami diner has been a local favorite for decades. The nearly untouched décor and sassy waitresses make for a quintessential old-school diner experience, and the food is everything you’d want from a place like this: dependable, tasty, and affordable. Make sure to leave room for a slice of peanut butter pie.

Jimmy's Place
Yelp/Monika S.

Jimmy's Eastside Diner

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It’s good to know that even in one of the city’s trendiest neighborhoods, you can still get a taste of old Miami with a plate of banana pancakes or a patty melt. This MiMo diner was actually featured in the Academy Award winning film, Moonlight. On top of having a solid menu and comfortable retro digs, they also openly embrace the diversity of their community – pretty cutting edge for such an old-school place.

Jimmy's Eastside Diner
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Cozy Corner

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This Miami Springs institution occupies a corner of an oh-so-Miami art deco style building. Die hard cafecito enthusiasts can get their fix of Cuban coffee here to accompany any of its breakfast specialties or to wash down a Salisbury steak or one of the diner’s creative salads.

Cozy Corner
Trip Advisor

Floridian Restaurant

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It’s hard to believe that an old-school diner would be situated among the trendy restaurants on Fort Lauderdale’s Las Olas Boulevard, but this diner has been feeding hungry locals round the clock for more than 70 years. All the favorites one would expect could be found on the extensive menu, but its selection of internationally inspired meatloaf makes this place particularly unique.

Floridian Restaurant
Floridian Restaurant

Chuck Wagon

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Three Southwest Miami locations provide diners with stick-to-your-ribs breakfasts with a Southern bent, such as biscuits and gravy and country fried steak and eggs. You can also skip the eggs and order a country fried steak with vegetables and corn bread off of its lunch menu, which also includes a selection of sandwiches and burgers.

Chuck Wagon

Walter's Coffee Shop

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This Palmetto Bay diner has been around since the 1970s, but its history dates back even farther to the original Walter’s Coffee Shop in Long Island, New York. The racecar themed eatery features a wide selection of breakfast, lunch, and dinner standards with original names, so take a look at the descriptions to know exactly what you’re getting. This is also a good place to get southern breakfast dishes like salmon croquettes and grits.

Walter's Coffee Shop
TripAdvisor

Peter Pan Diner

While also a 24-hour Greek diner, this place offers a completely different people watching experience from Lester’s. It is a favorite last stop for Wilton Manors revelers after a night of bar hopping, meaning that you may catch a potpourri of club kids, drag queens, and even some leather clad macho guys enjoying some pancakes or a nicely charred burger and steak fries. There is also a separate full liquor bar in the back in case you want to keep the party going.

Peter Pan Diner
Florida Burger Lover

Ally's Comfort Cafe

This breakfast and lunch spot has two Broward locations in Davie and Sunrise. Like many old-school diners, this is a family-run operation, and Ally, herself, does all the cooking along with her mom, husband, and kids when it gets busy on the weekends. Expect all the classics, plus its famous huge pancakes made with anything from chocolate chips to pecans.

Ally’s Comfort Cafe
Yelp/Alex G

Lester's Diner

This 24-hour Greek diner has several locations throughout South Florida, but their Marina Mile outpost is perhaps the most iconic. Its location near the airport and sea port mean that everyone from flight crew to truckers end up. Their Greek specialties should not be missed, including a sampler big enough for two to share, and you should definitely save room for one of its mile-high cakes.

Lester's Diner
Yelp/Matt L.

Grampa's Bakery & Restaurant

Even if Guy Fieri didn’t feature this diner and bakery on his show, there would still be a line to get into this Dania Beach staple for breakfast on the weekends. Several display cases of house-made cakes, cookies, and doughnuts will tempt you before you even sit down, and in case you forget that Grampa’s is also a bakery, the waitress will plop down a plate of warm, freshly baked pastries on the table once you place your order. As with all diners, expect to find most of your favorites here with one or two surprises.

Grampa's Bakery & Restaurant
Facebook

Jack's Hollywood Diner

While many diners in South Florida occupy a strip mall space or a non-descript building, Jack’s is one of the few that actually looks like what you’d imagine a diner to appear. The 24-hour Hollywood mainstay has been in business for more than 60 years, and you can definitely taste the secret to its long-lasting success. Their gyro omelet is particularly noteworthy and Jack’s offers a pretty exceptional meatloaf, too.

Jack's Hollywood Diner
Facebook

Flashback Diner & Coffeehouse

Night owls can find sustenance at this 24-hour diner with two locations in Hallandale Beach and Davie. This old Hollywood themed eatery offers most of the classics, as well as a selection of sandwiches named after celebrities. A few Greek specialties and even some more upscale options like steaks, chops, and seafood round out the menu if you really want to treat yourself.

Flashback Diner & Coffeehouse
Facebook

Plaza Diner

This Miramar diner is a great place to get your fix of gyros, spanakopita, and pastitsio along with eggs any way you like them. The menu has all the usual suspects, just like you’d want in a diner, although one breakfast item that Plaza Diner is specifically know for: the heart attack sandwich. It features gyro meat, ham, sausage, bacon, three fried eggs, and cheese.

Plaza Diner
Google Images

Stadium Diner

While Broward seems to have the lion’s share of Greek diners in South Florida, Miami certainly won’t let itself fall off the map. This Miami Gardens hidden gem serves up solid Greek standards along with American comfort classics. Its signature sandwich, Yanni’s Favorite, is certainly a draw: grilled rye bread stuffed with pastrami, sautéed veggies, hot sauce, and melted Swiss cheese.

Stadium Diner
Yelp/Dan C.

Ham & Eggery

It’s hard to miss this North Miami Beach diner. Although the van painted to resemble the Mystery Machine from Scooby Doo is not always parked in front, the red barn exterior is sure to catch your attention. This lunch and dinner spot is known for its extensive list of breakfast classics, including the hard to find creamed chipped beef. If the menu doesn’t feel old-school enough, then the décor will certainly make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.

Ham & Eggery
Yelp/Dan C.

Jimmy's Place

This North Miami diner has been a local favorite for decades. The nearly untouched décor and sassy waitresses make for a quintessential old-school diner experience, and the food is everything you’d want from a place like this: dependable, tasty, and affordable. Make sure to leave room for a slice of peanut butter pie.

Jimmy's Place
Yelp/Monika S.

Jimmy's Eastside Diner

It’s good to know that even in one of the city’s trendiest neighborhoods, you can still get a taste of old Miami with a plate of banana pancakes or a patty melt. This MiMo diner was actually featured in the Academy Award winning film, Moonlight. On top of having a solid menu and comfortable retro digs, they also openly embrace the diversity of their community – pretty cutting edge for such an old-school place.

Jimmy's Eastside Diner
Google Images

Cozy Corner

This Miami Springs institution occupies a corner of an oh-so-Miami art deco style building. Die hard cafecito enthusiasts can get their fix of Cuban coffee here to accompany any of its breakfast specialties or to wash down a Salisbury steak or one of the diner’s creative salads.

Cozy Corner
Trip Advisor

Floridian Restaurant

It’s hard to believe that an old-school diner would be situated among the trendy restaurants on Fort Lauderdale’s Las Olas Boulevard, but this diner has been feeding hungry locals round the clock for more than 70 years. All the favorites one would expect could be found on the extensive menu, but its selection of internationally inspired meatloaf makes this place particularly unique.

Floridian Restaurant
Floridian Restaurant

Chuck Wagon

Three Southwest Miami locations provide diners with stick-to-your-ribs breakfasts with a Southern bent, such as biscuits and gravy and country fried steak and eggs. You can also skip the eggs and order a country fried steak with vegetables and corn bread off of its lunch menu, which also includes a selection of sandwiches and burgers.

Chuck Wagon

Walter's Coffee Shop

This Palmetto Bay diner has been around since the 1970s, but its history dates back even farther to the original Walter’s Coffee Shop in Long Island, New York. The racecar themed eatery features a wide selection of breakfast, lunch, and dinner standards with original names, so take a look at the descriptions to know exactly what you’re getting. This is also a good place to get southern breakfast dishes like salmon croquettes and grits.

Walter's Coffee Shop
TripAdvisor

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