Fancy fine dining and the city's hottest new spots are always a pleasure, but sometimes all one really wants is a well-made omelet. Chicago's all-encompassing restaurant scene boasts plenty of greasy spoons that are ready to serve classic diner fare at all hours of the day. Whether guests need a late-night pick-me-up or a hangover cure, these old-fashioned joints are more than happy to oblige. After all, a cheap and filling meal will never go out of style. Listed in alphabetical order.Read More
The 20 Most Iconic Diners in Chicago, 2018 Edition
Fulfill those greasy desires with eggs and burgers
Edgewater’s favorite longstanding establishment has been in business since 1960. Breakfast skillets, half-pound burgers, freshly-squeezed orange juice, and Grecian specials like the Kayana — an egg scramble with sautéed onions, tomatoes, and feta cheese — are all on offer here. Like any good neighborhood spot, Alexander’s won’t let patrons down.
“Meat free since ‘83” is the slogan at this venerable vegan diner. For 35 years, guests with dietary restrictions have been able to indulge in creative versions of burgers, wings, country fried steak, gyros, and more. In addition, vegan milkshakes and desserts are also available as well as gluten-free options.
Clarke's on Belmont
After briefly shuttering most of its locations, Clarke’s returned to its old Lakeview stomping grounds in 2016. The retro-themed diner is happy to fulfill any eggy desires that arise in the middle of the night. Other highlights include cinnamon rolls, mac and cheese, and the Avocado Abby sandwich.
Cozy Corner Diner & Pancake House
The early bird not only gets the worm, it also gets the breakfast deal at Cozy Corner. Stop in between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. for a bevy of cheap specials, such as $6.99 skillets. On the regular menu, the kitchen cranks out luscious pancakes, “OMG” omelets, cheesy patty melts, and dinner plates like roast turkey and chopped steak.
Nestled in the heart of the South Side, Daley’s has been serving residents homestyle fare since 1892. Generations upon generations of Chicagoans have grown up on its skillets, waffles, chicken wings, and patty melts. If that doesn’t whet the appetite, daily specials like boiled turkey necks, chicken and dumplings, and braised oxtail stew rise above the diner norm.
Glenn's Diner & Seafood House
It may surprise folks to learn that Glenn’s Diner is home to some of the finest seafood in town. Of course breakfast is served all-day, and there’s an assortment of cereals, but the real highlights are the fresh catch. Walleye, mahi-mahi, swordfish, striped bass, and more are imported from around the country, and guests can feast on all-you-can-eat crab legs on Tuesdays and endless shrimp on Thursdays as well.
Golden Apple Grill & Breakfast House
Wake up to sizzling skillets, the Golden Apple Special (minced ham scrambled with eggs), corned beef hash, and homemade blintzes. The family-run, 24-hour diner has more than 40 years of customer service under its belt but for those who’d rather savor their food at home, carryout orders are guaranteed to be ready in 15 minutes.
With several locations across the city, Golden Nugget has been a Chicago staple for more than 50 years. There’s something for everyone as the expansive menu has buttercream waffles, crepes, fried steak, liver and onions, “Flavors of Italy” and “South of the Border” dishes, and daily specials.
Although it’s missing the glitz and glam of Beverly Hills, this Hollywood-themed diner is the late-night star of Wicker Park. Sure, eating jumbo fried shrimp, nachos supreme, or a pulled pork sandwich at 1 a.m. isn’t the healthiest choice, but damn if it isn't difficult to resist. More importantly, the extensive number of options means it’s a restaurant everyone can agree on.
Huck Finn Restaurant
Sometimes, dessert is just as important as the main course. This diner mini-chain has three locations on the South Side that provide patrons with a satisfyingly sweet finish to every meal. Chow on golden brown pancakes, club sandwiches, and burgers but make sure to save some room for a donut delight. The signature treat features one of Huck’s donuts topped with choice of ice cream and whipped cream. And since it’s open 24 hours, a late-night sugar rush is always in play.
There’s no better way to unwind after a long night out than with a plate of biscuits and gravy at this 24-hour restaurant. It’s only available between 12 a.m. and 2 p.m. but other all-day delights include ham on the bone, pizza puffs, and fried bologna with eggs.
It doesn’t get more old school than the experience at one of Chicago’s oldest restaurants. Nearly a century since opening, Lou Mitchell’s continues to operate like a well-oiled machine. Guests are treated to complimentary Milk Duds and donut holes upon arrival before sitting down to fluffy pancakes, jumbo omelets, fresh eggs, homemade pastries, and cups of the self-proclaimed “world’s finest coffee.”
Located just minutes from the United Center, Palace Grill feeds fans before and after Blackhawks and Bulls games. Nosh on “heart stopper” breakfast sandwiches at any hour of the day or classics like meatloaf, mac and cheese, and fish and chips.
Eggs and bacon will always be a good choice but for something a little different, head to this small Mexican spot in Pilsen. Along with all of the traditional morning fare, the menu offers items such as chilaquiles, chile relleno, and tortas. And if diners want to start the day with some tacos, those are available too.
All-nighters can be taxing so this cozy diner is where weary University of Chicago students head to refuel. Affordable prices and a comfortable atmosphere make it an ideal place to get work done while enjoying Greek-American specialties such as souvlaki, moussaka, egg-lemon soup, and Nick’s Delight — gyros, roast beef, Swiss cheese, and grilled onions on pita bread.
The Silver Palm
Greasy spoons are usually a dime a dozen but the Silver Palm is a unique experience that takes place inside a railroad dining car. Get on board and try the famous artery-clogging Three Little Piggy sandwich, a behemoth filled with double-smoked ham, pork tenderloin, bacon, onion ring, fried egg, and gruyere cheese. Hungry eaters who manage to finish the whole thing should pat themselves on the back and prepare for the accompanying food coma.
A giant fist clenching eating utensils invites guests into this popular Lakeview eatery. Inside, they’ll find a warm dining room and items ranging from stuffed French toast and marvelous milkshakes to giant quesadillas and zucchini parmigiana. Go during off-peak hours or be prepared to wait since there’s usually a line.
Uncle Mike's Place
Instead of the usual bacon and sausage, opt for Spam and longaniza in the morning. This Filipino diner mixes things up with Southeast Asian favorites such as bangus (milkfish), marinated skirt steak, and bone-in pork chop. Don’t fret if those sound a little too hearty though, patrons can still order an omelet or short stack.
It's counter-service only but Hyde Park’s beloved institution has all the makings of a greasy spoon. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served cafeteria-style and customers should look forward to reliable omelets, a mean plate of steak and eggs, and daily specials like lamb shank spaghetti. Need more convincing? It’s one of President Obama’s favorite haunts.
White Palace Grill
Whether it’s 3 p.m. or 3 a.m., there’s always an eclectic mix of students, workers, and nightlifers at this iconic greasy spoon. It’s comfort food at its best, which means a varied selection that includes Tex-Mex dishes, pastas, burgers, fried chicken, meatloaf, beef sandwiches, and everything but the kitchen sink. Fast, filling, and cheap, White Palace Grill is everything a diner strives to be.