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What defines a diner? Bountiful breakfast options? Casual environment? Booths and counter seating? Waitresses who call you “honey”? We say, all of the above. Oh, and to make this list, good food, too.

Avalon Diner

Despite its four area locations, the historic (since 1938!) chain manages to avoid feeling like one thanks to its electric, old-school staff, who are happy to call you by your name and even happier to tell you what to order. Standouts include the chicken-fried steak and eggs, caramel-pecan-banana challah French toast, and corned beef hash. At lunch, the juicy Drug Store Burgers are a reminder that the best examples of the form need not be dressed with foie gras, aioli or artisan greens to be satisfying.

City Café

The pint-size café packs its worn red booths with locals hungry for hearty fare and a side of nostalgia. It’s home to some of the biggest bangs for your breakfast buck in town: Get three eggs with your choice of meat or a triple stack of pancakes for under $8. Come lunch, selections from the steam table—meatloaf, chicken and dumplings, or breaded pork chops—are the best bet.

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Dot Coffee Shop

Seemingly frozen in time since its opening more than 50 years ago, this place harks back to yesteryear via its extremely affordable, no-frills menu of stick-to-your-ribs fare like ribeye steak and eggs, fried pickles with ranch dressing, and ham-and-cheese melts. Caffeine addicts will appreciate the whole-pot-per-patron policy. 

Fountain View Cafe

This H-town institution boasts a terrific lineup of breakfast combos, deli-style sandwiches (hot pastrami, roast beef), brick-thick malts and milkshakes (we’re partial to the peanut butter), and excellent biscuits and gravy (you can get an extra bowl of that unctuous gravy for just two bucks).

Frank’s Grill

Lines often snake out the door at all three locations of this no-frills Houston favorite, with patrons happy to wait for affordable plates of scrambled eggs, pancakes garnished with huge scoops of butter, and crispy chicken-fried chicken served piping-hot. Waffles can be had with chocolate chips, fried catfish, or both. 

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House of Pies

Late-night crowds descend here hoping to ward off hangovers via the consumption of deluxe beef patty melts oozing with cheese, massive meaty omelets, and slices of rich Bayou Goo pie. This, of course, is also the best time for people-watching, but rest assured, the food is delicious all day long.

Lola

This self-proclaimed “modern diner” is a favorite among Heights denizens thanks to its patient staff, child-friendly atmosphere, and tweaked takes on diner classics. Favorites include the “Breakfast Lola” (two eggs with your choice of applewood-smoked bacon or sausage, house potatoes or parmesan grits, corned beef hash, and sourdough or multigrain toast), Belgian waffles with seasonal berry compote, and  the fried-green-tomato BLT.

Tel-Wink Restaurant & Grill

Offering welcoming service and simple-but-satisfying egg-and-ham-steak sandwiches, flapjacks with Polish sausage, and triple-decker clubs, this stalwart has had a loyal following since 1940. Retro daily specials include baby liver and onions and Chicken Delight (cottage cheese, hard-boiled egg, peaches, and cucumbers, served on Romaine lettuce).

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Editor’s Pick

Tel-Wink Restaurant & Grill

$ Diner 4318 Telephone Rd.

Patrons from all over town make pilgrimages to the bright blue awnings of Dmitri and Peggy Bokos’s Gulfgate institution, where breakfast specials, from homem...

Lola

$ Diner 1102 Yale St.

A modern diner inside a vintage building, Lola serves old-fashioned fare such as breakfasts of eggs, grits, potato hash,  toast, bacon and sausage, but also ...

House of Pies

$ American/New American Multiple Locations

As the name would imply, this is the place to get a slice of pie 24 hours a day. Of course, if you’re not there for a slice of Bayou Goo (our favorite, with ...

Frank’s Grill

$ Diner Multiple Locations

In most American cities, Frank’s would be called a diner. For many years, Houstonians visited the Telephone Road location for bacon, eggs, hash browns, panca...

Editor’s Pick

Fountain View Cafe

$$ Diner 1842 Fountain View Dr.

At this Tanglewood institution, you'll almost always find a line on weekends, when folks from across the city flock here for the lacy, thin, vanilla-perfumed...

Editor’s Pick

Dot Coffee Shop

$$ American/New American, Diner 7006 Gulf Fwy.

The restaurant that started it all—and by all, we mean the Pappas empire—opened its doors in 1967 and has rarely closed them since. Open 24/7, Dot serves com...

Editor’s Pick

City Cafe

$$ Diner 513 College Ave

A slice of small-town nostalgia not far from Hobby Airport, City Cafe deals in anachronisms both delicious (waffles made from Carbon’s Golden Malted waffle f...

Avalon Diner

$ Diner Multiple Locations

Old-school indulgence is available here at breakfast and lunch, whether it's a chicken-fried steak omelette or the open-faced chili cheeseburger. The soda fo...