Nobody is more qualified to choose the best diners in New England than Richard Gutman, curator of the Culinary Arts Museum at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI, and author of three books on the history of diners. When we asked him to name the venues he thinks are the best diners in New England, he groaned, “There are more than 300 diners just in Massachusetts!” Still, he agreed to confide all five of his top picks, with a little lore about each of them.
674 Broadway St
Somerville, MA 02144
1953 Jerry O’Mahoney diner – this stainless-steel classic was profiled on the Food Network hit “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.” It serves generous portions—Kelly’s Super, for example: two eggs, choice of meat, home fries, two huge pancakes, and toast.
364 East Avenue
Pawtucket, RI 02860
1941 Sterling Streamliner – this was the first diner named to the National Register of Historic Places, in 1978. Go for the weekend brunch specials, such as lobster Benedict (made by Al Roker when he visited for his Food Network special “Diner Destinations”).
431 Union St
Lynn, MA 01901
1928 Brill diner – this family-run business, since 1938, serves up one of the friendliest atmospheres, plus fare from meatloaf-and-mashed to crab sandwiches and quesadillas.
Libby’s Blue Line Diner
1 Roosevelt Highway
1953 Worcester Lunch car – this diner sits like a fort, perched high above I-89, with a spectacular view for the patrons inside. The baked goods excel, and the breakfast can’t be beat, as the frequent wait-for-a-seat will attest.
A 1 Diner
3 Bridge St
1946 Worcester Lunch Car
Patrons of this small diner, a 1946 Worcester lunch car, enjoy its eclectic menu, as well as the owners’ deli and specialty food store next door. It has a unique location: perched on steel stilts alongside elevated Bridge Street. Its recipes and lore are chronicled in “A1 Diner: Real Food, Recipes & Recollections” by Sarah Rolph.