Best diners

When you want late-night breakfast, giant milkshakes, greasy burgers and other no-frills fare, here are our favorite diners

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  • Photograph: Ben Pier

    Diner Grill

  • Photograph: Martha Williams

    Lou Mitchell's

  • Photograph: Chandler West

    Edgebrook Coffee Shop

  • Photograph: Kendall Thacker

    Nookies Tree, which is located in Boystown, is a great Chicago diner.

  • White Palace Grill is one of the best diners in Chicago.

Photograph: Ben Pier

Diner Grill

We're torn on the best time to go to our favorite diners. Is it for an early breakfast at Lou Mitchell's before heading to work? Two in the morning at the Diner Grill, when we're tempted by the Slinger? Hangover weekend brunches at Nookies Tree? No matter what time you choose, our favorite diners can give you everything you're looking for—burgers, late-night snacks, breakfast, milkshakes, comfort food—in a no-frills spot.


RECOMMENDED: Full list of the best restaurants in Chicago


Diner Grill

  • Price band: 1/4

There are no seats here—just stools. There’s barely a menu, either. The burgers are thin little things, but stacked up two or three on a bun, they’re exactly what you come to diners for: food that’s hot, greasy, cheesy and cheap. Of course, you may be here for breakfast, in which case the bacon is extra-crispy and the pancakes are substantial enough to get you through the day. (But if, like most people here, you’re eating them in the middle of the night, that’s beside the point.)

  1. 1635 W Irving Park Rd, (between Marshfield Ave and Paulina St)
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Lou Mitchell’s Restaurant

  • Price band: 1/4

Thinking of spending your Sunday morning at this classic Chicago diner? Better check the weather: The line snakes out the door and onto Lou Mitchell Way well into the afternoon. Customers are treated to fresh, sugar-dusted doughnut holes (and, if you’re a woman, Milk Duds) while they wait, but the real feast starts when you sit down. Stacks of “meltaway” pancakes are perfectly browned, omelettes come in hot skillets (try the sweet, rich apple-and-cheese variety) and juicy, gooey patty melts seem too big to finish. But as with the rest of the irresistible dishes, you’ll find room.

  1. 565 W Jackson Blvd, (between Clinton and Jefferson Sts)
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Nookies Tree

  • Price band: 1/4

We’ll admit it: We’ve never really considered trying the food here when we were sober enough to taste it. No. 3 in the local “chain” of diners has always been a 3am favorite of Boystown barhoppers, so we were pleasantly surprised to find that, in the light of day, this place can cook. Fruit-filled pancakes and French toast are hits, as are the frittatas (try the combo of bacon, mushroom, Gouda cheese and caramelized onions). It’s a great way to start the day—or end the night.

  1. 3334 N Halsted St, (at Buckingham Pl)
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Edgebrook Coffee Shop

  • Price band: 1/4

People go to other diners for greasy bacon and eggs, fatty hamburgers and limp french fries. But they come to this one, a tiny charming room whose walls are covered with ’50s-era nostalgia, for food they can watch being made to order in the open kitchen. Sitting at the long counter, you can witness the eggs being cracked for your fluffy omelette, the batter being stirred for your thin and airy pancakes, and, if you’re there on the weekend, the rich, sausage-studded gravy being spooned over dense, buttery biscuits.

  1. 6322 N Central Ave, (between Caldwell and Devon Aves)
More info

White Palace Grill

The waitress calls you doll, hun or honey. You’ll let her call you whatever she wants if it means getting some of the—hands down—best diner food in town. A scoop of soft butter and warm syrup transforms a stack of plain pancakes, and they’re flanked by the city’s only diner bacon worth its fat.

  1. 1159 S Canal St, (between Roosevelt Rd and Taylor St)
More info


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