10 Best All-American Diners in California

Pancakes topped with  drizzles of syrup, hearty beef burgers that melt in your mouth, and refreshing chocolate milkshakes doused in freshly whipped cream – what is more satisfying than the all-American dining experience?

From retro franchises across the state to hidden gems on Los Angeles’ boulevards, treat yourself to an old-school vibe and classic American meal at these top 10 best diners in California.

10. Swingers


Swingers diner – located in Los Angeles and Santa Monica – is credited as one of the best diners in California because of its retro feel, quality food, and late hours.

Since 1993, this All-American diner has been treating its regulars like family and welcoming every customer to its famed establishment with a fun and friendly greeting.

A favourite of regulars to this California diner is the tuna melt, while Swingers also offers up various other classic eats for its passing patrons.

9. The Apple Pan

The apple pan

The Apple Pan makes the list of best diners because, since 2012, National Geographic credited this spot as having the best burger in California.

In 2017 the diner celebrated its 70th birthday and, with its lively, old-school atmosphere and excellent quality food and drinks, it will no doubt be around for much longer.

You can find this classic spot in downtown Los Angeles, and if you’re there you have to try the Steak or Hickory Burger.

8. Harry’s Coffee Shop

Harrys coffee shop

With its all day breakfast menu and no-frills ambiance, Harry’s Coffee Shop in La Jolla serves up classic American diner with a mix of Southern California and Mexican style in its cooking.

Not only has this traditional spot been voted as one of the best diners in America, it tops the list of best diners in San Diego.

Whether for breakfast, brunch, lunch or afternoon pick-me-up, Harry’s varied menu and generous portions will leave you feeling scrumptiously satisfied.

7. Cafe 50’s

cafe 50's

If it has “50’s” in its name, you must know that this place is going to give you an authentic vintage feeling.

Cafe 50’s is a quintessential all-American diner that transports you to the 1950s with its reasonably priced and liberal offerings of pancakes, burgers, milkshakes and more.

Slightly kitschy but truly nostalgic, this California diner welcomes you through their doors with an offer of “a generous slice of Americana”.

Squeezed onto Santa Monica Boulevard, a trip to Café 50 is a trip to one of the best diners in Los Angeles.

6.  101 Coffee Shop

101 coffee shop

Seen in the likes of Gilmore Girls and Entourage, 101 Coffee Shop underwent an early 2000s renovation to take it all the way back to the 60’s – a style it maintains today.

The retro diner is frequented by Hollywood clientele and late-night hipsters as its 20-hour dining experience offers the best of American coffee-shop eats.

All-day breakfast buttermilk waffles and generous sandwich options top the list of what to indulge in at 101 Coffee Shop.

5. Mel’s Drive-in

mel's drive in

If you’re looking for the best milkshakes in California, Mel’s Drive-in is the place to go.

With various locations across the state, this 24hr diner is an extremely popular 50’s franchise where one visit will soon make you realize why it is one of the best diners in America.

From classic Coca Cola floats to the best sliders in town, Mel’s Drive-in is a must-visit for a true all-American dining experience.

 4. Richie’s Real American Diner

richies real american diner

Richie’s Real American Diner is a 1950s vintage-style diner with a welcoming family atmosphere and authentic country-cooking style.

Richie’s became the locals’ favourite when its first location opened in 1991, and has since opened 2 other locations across California. Richie’s offers the highest quality in breakfast, lunch, dinners, desserts and hospitality, making it a stand out California diner.

It’s also hailed as one of the best All-American diners of all time, and you can find this iconic spot on the historic Route 66 as well as in Temecula and Murrieta.

3. Ronnie’s Diner

ronnies diner

Ronnie’s Diner is a laid-back, family friendly spot hidden away from the glitz and glam of Los Angeles.

Serving hearty American breakfasts, brunches and lunches, Ronnie’s tops off their all-American warm atmosphere with reasonable prices.

This retro diner is always buzzing and is very popular with the locals, but it is praised as never forgoing great quality food and excellent customer service.

2. Pann’s Restaurant

Pann’s Restaurant

Famed for its role in various blockbuster movies as well as having characteristic architecture, the coffee shop Pann’s is one of the best diners in Los Angeles.

Established in the late 1950s, this old-school diner serves up classic American breakfasts and lunches plus a special offer on weekends of a champagne brunch.

It’s a definite stop en route to LAX if you’re in the area, and is guaranteed to make you feel like you’re on the set of Pulp Fiction!

1. Peggy Sue’s 50s Diner

Peggy Sue’s 50s Diner

It’s hard to imagine a genuine, vintage diner with a name that sounds more 50’s than Peggy Sue’s 50s Diner.

Peggy Sue’s is loved by those who are making trips to the likes of Las Vegas or Mojave National Preserve as it serves hearty meals and hospitable service. With its authentic feel, American classics menu and overall retro dining experience trimmings, it’s understandable why Peggy Sue’s is one of the best diners in California.

Menu favourites with names like Elvis Presley Shake and Marlon Brandon Mushroom Cheeseburger ensure that it doesn’t get more than an all-American dining experience than this!


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