I have a weakness for diners. Some of my favorite memories from college involve a tiny diner in Wheaton, Illinois called Round the Clock where I’d meet my friend Kateri for Sunday lunch. We’d drink coffee and talk for 4 hours until I had to go to work where I’d jitter my way through the first couple hours of my food service shift until all I’d processed all the excess caffeine.
In the many years since I’ve found that a good diner has:
1. Above average service (bonus points for waitresses that call me honey and keep my coffee cup filled)
2. Breakfast all day (bonus points for perfect crispy hash browns and thick cut bacon)
3. Lots of great tables near windows (bonus points for a location on a busy street where I can get a lot of interesting street color with my breakfast)
I have a couple favorites across the country including Arlis’s in Bellingham, WA
Original Market Diner in Dallas TX
And Loveless Cafe in Nashville, which isn’t a diner but has all the above mentioned elements of diner-ness.
In Tucson, there are a few decent diners but I like Robert’s the best among them.
I like sitting at the bar watching the kitchen pass through where the waitresses congregate
The bacon and cheddar omelette is gigantic and full of bacon, the potatoes are only ok but the jalapeno toast is baked in house and is buttery, spicy and fantastic.
The whole vibe of the restaurant is calm, even when they’re busy. The waitstaff is speedy, there’s no crying or yelling during breakfast service and there’s almost always a seat open at the bar. I wish they were open past 2pm but you can’t have everything.
Check out Robert’s for breakfast and if you’re still hungry afterwards, they also make their own pies.
A great diner = breakfast + pie.