Topic: Places to Eat

New England Diners: 20 Classics

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Richard Gutman, curator of the Culinary Arts Museum at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI, chose these 20 New England diners in addition to his list of Best 5 New England Diners in the May/June 2008 issue of Yankee.

Scan his list and, if you don’t see your favorite, add it in at the “Comment” section below. Great dining all around!

New England Diners: 20 Classics

Palace Diner, Biddeford, Maine

Richard Gutman

New England Diners | Maine

Palace Diner
18 Franklin St.
Biddeford, ME 04005
no phone
1927 Pollard Diner
Owner: Kyle Quinn
One of two surviving diners built by the Pollard Company of Lowell, MA, this little palace has seating for 15 at stools only. New owner Kyle Quinn said in a Boston Globe interview that his menu remains pretty close to what they served in the 1920s: “Diners have always been about large portions and short prices.”

Moody’s Diner
Route 1
Waldoboro, ME 04572
207 832-7785
1927; built on site
Owner: Mrs. Nancy Moody Genther
This family institution started as a roadside lunch stand more than 80 years ago, and its success has required 16 additions to expand it. If you stay in Moody’s cabins up the hill, you can have breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the diner.

New England Diners | Rhode Island

Liberty Elm Diner – Closed
777 Elmwood Ave.
Providence, RI 02907
1947 Worcester Lunch Car
Owner: Carol DeFeciani
The Liberty Elm features fresh foods from local farms, Fair Trade coffee, and wireless, to boot. On Sundays there’s live music in the diner’s addition. The “real” food includes real Vermont maple syrup and nitrate-free, antibiotic-free, hormone-free meats.

Seaplane Diner
307 Allens Ave.
Providence, RI 02905
401 941-9547
c. 1952 Jerry O’Mahony Diner
Owner: David Penta

Near Narragansett Bay, where there used to be a seaplane dock, this stainless-steel beauty is filled with Providence police, construction workers rebuilding I-95, and locals from all the nearby universities. The calamari with hot peppers (Fridays only) is not to be missed.

New England Diners | 20 Classics

Chelsea Royal Diner, West Brattleboro, Vermont

Richard Gutman

New England Diners | Vermont

The Farmer’s Diner – Closed
Timber Village, Rte. 4
Quechee, VT 05059
1947 Worcester Lunch Car
Owner: Tod Murphy
Owner/chef Tod Murphy is a pioneer in the sustainable food movement, serving fresh, organic and local as much as possible. The coffee urns are filled with Fair Trade brew. For once the diner business has a leader, not a follower.

Chelsea Royal Diner
487 Marlboro Road
West Brattleboro, VT 05301
802 254-8399
1939 Worcester Lunch Car
Owners: Todd & Amy Darrah
The original barrel-roofed Royal Diner is now part of a larger restaurant, but even without the counter, the ambiance remains, like icing on the cake of its renowned desserts. Their “high-end home-style cuisine” includes Mexican food Tuesday through Saturday nights. During ice-cream season, don’t miss their homemade offerings.

Blue Benn Diner
318 North St.
Bennington, VT 05201
802 442 5140
1948 Silk City Diner
Owners: Sonny & Marylou Monroe; daughter Lisa Monroe LaFlamme
The Monroes have serve traditional and innovative diner fare at the Blue Benn since 1974, with vegetarian fare alongside Tex-Mex, daily specials and a wide variety of classic dishes. (They make their own doughnuts.) With only 40 seats, be prepared to wait.

New England Diners: 20 Classics

Tumble Inn, Claremont, New Hampshire

Richard Gutman

New England Diners | New Hampshire

Daddypop’s Tumble Inn Diner
1 Main St.
Claremont, NH 03743
603 542-0074
1941 Worcester Lunch Car
Owners: Debbie & Paul Carter
A beautiful, one-of-a-kind Worcester Diner with striking ceramic mosaic tile and porcelain enamel. Scrapple, kielbasa, and baked beans join the excellent home fries as accompaniments to the breakfast fare. Heaping portions — in the diner style.

Red Arrow Diner
61 Lowell St.
Manchester, NH 03101
603 626-1118
1922; built on site
Owner: Carol L. Sheehan
One of the few 24-hour diners in New England, it has also been smoke-free for 10 years. Hash-brown specials with ham, cheese, and onions make a meal out of a side dish. And leave room for the pie.

Peterborough Diner
10 Depot St.
Peterborough, NH 03458
603 924-6202
1950 Worcester Lunch Car
Owner: Patrick Healey and Eric Finley
The beautiful forest-green enamel exterior of this diner perfectly fits its Monadnock Region setting. New owners have rejuvenated the diner, earning the praise of a regular who eats there “at least 10 times a week.” Patrick Healey and Eric Finley are keeping a great place going strong.

New England Diners | Massachusetts

Rosebud Diner
381 Summer St.
Somerville, MA
617 666-6015
1941 Worcester Lunch Car
Owner: Bill Nichols
A beautiful streamliner restored in 1995 with its traditional diner backbar replaced with an alcohol bar. When you get your eggs Benedict, you can get your bloody Mary, too, and that’s a rarity in a New England diner.

Casey’s Diner
36 South Ave.
Natick, MA 01760
508 655-3761
1922 Worcester Lunch Car
Owner: Patrick Casey
Oldest and smallest diner (10 stools) still operating. Patrick is the fourth-generation Casey dishing out the renowned hot dogs behind the all-wood counter. Order yours “all-around” and they’ll think you’re a regular.

Charlie’s Diner
5 Meadow Rd.
Spencer, MA 01562
508 885-4033
1948 Worcester Lunch Car
Owner: Steve Turner
Once a Worcester landmark, this family business moved a half-hour west into Spencer, but they brought their good food, wit, and fast service with them. Everything is great here.

Shawmut Diner – Closed
943 Shawmut Ave.
New Bedford, MA 02746
1954 Jerry O’Mahony Diner
Owner: Phil & Celeste Paleologos
Phil Paleologos is one of the great diner raconteurs, and his customers benefit greatly from his glibness and cuinsine. The linguica (Portugese sausage) is tops. The Shawmut Indian neon sign is a classic.

Nest Diner – Closed
81 Fairhaven Rd.
Mattapoisett, MA 02739

Betsy’s Diner
457 Main St.
Falmouth, MA 02541
508 540-0060
1957 Mountain View Diner
Owner: David Chandler
If you’ve got time to spare while waiting for the Martha’s Vineyard ferry, do yourself a favor and stop at Betsy’s for some fried clams or baked scrod. This lively place is always hopping.

New England Diners | Connecticut

Collin’s Diner
Route 44, Railroad Square
Canaan, CT 06018
203 824-7040
1942 Jerry O’Mahony Diner
Owners: Aida & Mike Hamzy
The Lebanese Hamzy family has owned Collin’s since 1969, and as a result the fare includes hummus, tabouleh, and stuffed grape leaves, along with more predictable daily specials. But the building itself makes a trip worthwhile — a completely intact World War II-era diner.

O’Rourke’s Diner
728 Main St.
Middletown, CT 06457
203 346-6101
1946 Mountain View Diner
Owner: Brian O’Rourke
Possibly the only diner ever given a feature article in Gourmet magazine — the food is that good — O’Rourke’s recently reopened after it was decimated by fire in 2006. The Middletown locals, including the Wesleyan University community, pitched in to raise the funds to rebuild this landmark eatery.

Olympia Diner
3413 Berlin Turnpike
Newington, CT 06111
203 666-9948
1955 Jerry O’Mahony Diner
Owner: Tasos Gavrilis
The Olympia is a gigantic gleaming stainless-steel wonder, surmounted by an incredible neon sign. If they were to reproduce a diner in Las Vegas, this would be the one. Classic food offerings of the Greek diner variety on an expansive menu. Breakfast anytime.

1226 Chapel St
New Haven, CT 06511
(203) 776-6620
1955 Mountain View Diner
This classic Mountain View Diner, located near Yale, is a rarity: It serves delicious, creative, and traditional Indian food. No breakfast here. When you want a break from meatloaf and mashed, try the chicken tikka masala.


What are your favorite New England diners?

  • We also have Rte 66 Dinner on Bay St in Springfield, MA. We also enjoyed a great breakfast at a diner
    in Hyannis, (Cape Cod) MA.

  • We have our Lions district meetings at the Blue Bonnet 3 or 4 times a year. Great food!

  • Check out the Boulevard Diner on Shrewsbury St. in Worcester, Ma. Open 24 hrs. ( I think it’s worcester Car) Real Diner food at real diner prices . The meatballs and the Italian bread/toast are memorable. Huge menu, great breakfasts. Also, the Miss Worcester has the best fish ‘n chips anywhere


  • AnThONY

    I nominate the Miss Portland Diner, in (where else?) Portland, Maine. Great food, great history, great prices, great service.

    There also used to be a diner on Union Street in West Springfield, Massachusetts when I lived there in the early 1980s… Couldn’t tell you if it’s there now, though.

    Maine Diner in Wells, Maine is not a true diner, but I’ve never been disappointed. Been going there for a long time, guess that’s why…

  • Hi Jane,
    You can find the New Hampshire diners on page two of this article.

  • I can’t believe you didn’t hit ONE in New Hampshire….There are some great ones here!

  • Every time I visit the North Shore I have to stop at the Agawam in Rowley for the best hash I have ever eaten. Ask for Don’s favorite hash and they will make it crispy if you like. It’s really awesome!
    Also, try Miss Brunswick in Brunswick Maine thebreakfast is great and the jukebox only plays one song: “Black Magic Woman”.

  • formly Al’s Diner in lawrence now charlies diner was great when ken field owned it homemade pies and great burgers

  • Sad to report ROSEBUD is also closed in 2013 after a reprieve in 2012.

    I will second nomination of AGAWAM (traditional) and VICTORIAS (trendy).

    Also in Maine, (Miss) Brunswick Diner (traditional).

  • My wife will be touring New England this summer, Would appreciate any information. Alan Pierce

  • On your next Diner List for New England – Please consider Victoria’s Diner, 1024 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston – which has been a Boston Landmark since 1949. Voted Best Diner 2011 by Improper Bostonian Magazine and featured on Phantom Gourmet as a favorite for our delicious burgers. As of 2012 – there is new ownership, and a new chef. We offer excellent homemade food at great prices, exceptional customer service in a very clean, family-friendly environment. Please visit us soon – Victoria’s Diner, an American tradition, a Boston Landmark, where you can have breakfast all day, every day!
    Open 24 hours Thursday through Saturday, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sun, Mon, Tue, Wed.
    We also offer wine, beer, and cordials for the adults!

  • Linda

    As far as the Maine diner in Wells goes, tried it several times and was extraordinarily disappointed. Not only was the food not prepared well, but it could use a good cleaning; maybe the carpet should just be pitched.
    We like good sensibly priced homemade kind of food, but garlic in home fried potatoes for breakfast? I don’t think so.

  • Did the Agawam Diner,Rte #1 in Rowley,Ma. somehow get over-looked?…..I’m thinking that it was NO oversight so much,as this is apparently considered a NON-YUPPIE-type of diner!No ridiculous over-pricing,& No Sushi or Thai-food on the menu! I come from many generations of Yankee’s,& have been an avid reader for many years,but this once seriously YANKEE magazine has now turned into a ridiculous self-serving YUPPIE publication.Websters Collegiate Dictionary defines Yankee as;a native,or inhabitant of N.E.,Yuppie;A young person with a well paid job,young urban professional.&the connection is???!!!

  • Do not forget Becky’s Diner, 390 Commercial St, Portland, ME The best for whatever comfort food you crave!!!! Also, Just Barb’s in Stockton Springs ME. Awesome breakfast!!!

  • Massachusetts has a great diner in Northampton, Ma. It is called the Blue Bonnet on route 5. Anyone who lives in this area knows about the restaurant…. great food…

  • My wife and I are avaid campers, and traveling throughout new england as well as other place in this country, we love to visit diners. I would like to see someone publish a book or list of diners through the east coast and include it in rv mags. etc.. Love yankee mag on line read it all the time.

  • The Maine Diner…..is not a diner! It is a YUPPIE resturant with exorbitant prices.

    Hope that answers your question.

    The Palace is a great diner with great prices and you get what you order.

    Good old fashioned diner food

  • Love the diner in Quechee, Vt. We always stop and eat there on our way from Ohio to Maine. This has been going on for over 10 years. May have to check out some of the others on our way back.


  • Heather

    wow – kind of a disappointing list for massachusetts. Worcester, home to so many diner cars around the country, has TONS of really good diners that put places like the Rosebud and the Modern to shame. And they are far more reasonably priced, like diners ought to be. No one should have to pay over $10 for breakfast at a diner, no matter how tasty it is.

  • My favorite diner is “CENTRAL DINER” in Millbury, MASS. It’s currently being restored back to its orignial glory. It’s open while under construction and the food is fantastic. Stop in and try it. I can’t say enough about it. The omelets are the best I’ve ever had.

  • jeanie

    Great article. I have been going to Claremont NH for years and never knew there was a Diner there. I won’t miss it again. Thanks

  • Leslee

    Two more good diners; – Miss Bellows Falls, 90 Rockingham St. Bellows Falls, Vt.
    and Lindy’s Diner, 19 Gilbo Ave, Keene, NH

  • How could you possibly omit the Maine Diner at Wells?Great seafood, fresh local vegetables? Too good to miss


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