7 Amazing Chicago Diners for Tasty, Casual Food in the Windy City

June 17, 2020
GiftYa
jason wolfe

The Windy City’s most-talked about places for casual, down-to-earth cooking and breakfast classics all day long.

Diners-- they’re a staple in the American restaurant scene. Reliable food classics, friendly service, and the perfect casual vibe. You know them when you see them, and we all love them for their options that fit everyone’s tastes. 

Going to be in Chicago for business or pleasure? Live in Chicago and ready to eat? Here’s a list of our greatest Windy City diners for your gastronomic pleasure! 

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Get a GiftYa gift card for your favorite person, and treat them to a meal on you, using GiftYa.  

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Chicago Diner 

3411 N. Halstead St. 

2333 N. Milwaukee Ave. | Veggiediner.com 

A proudly vegetarian diner? Why not!? 

Yum and yes, please! Many customers order these famous “milk” shakes before their meal-- why not have dessert first? Image courtesy of Chicago Diner’s Facebook.  

This unique and tasty diner was born in 1983, at a time when marketing agents and loan companies thought that vegetarianism meant business failure. But owners Hornick and “Chef Jo” Kaucher proved the critics wrong, and today the Chicago Diner is still going strong. All of your diner comfort food classics, but vegetarian and plant-based-- and all tasty. 

They also offer a Gluten-Free Menu, seasonal selections, and catering. Their food and dedication to their plant-based diet has won them many awards from the Chicago Reader, Michelin Guide, TLC and more! Try vegetarian versions of classics like poutine, pot pie, po’ boys, burgers galore and monte cristo sammies. Pair it up with lavender lemonade, a rishi chai tea latte, or a ginger-turmeric soda-- or one of their select alcoholic beverages. And please, please, pretty-please don’t forget to add the sugar on top-- their desserts and milkshakes are WORTH leaving some room in your stomach! 

“Chicago Diner is true love in food form… It's paradise in the mouth. Everything I've gotten here is amazing… But be sure to leave room for the dairy free milkshakes. O. M. G. So freaking good. There are a lot of veg restaurants popping up, but this one is still one of the very best there is.”-- Yelp Review 




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Glenn's Diner & Seafood House 

1820 W. Montrose Ave. | glendsdiner.com

A greasy spoon that’s more than just another fish in the sea.  

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The iconic chalkboard menu at Glen’s is just as famous as their wall of cereal. Image courtesy of Glen’s Diner Facebook

Reinventing your diner experience, Glenn's Diner & Seafood House combines two food options that don’t normally exist in restaurant harmony and combines them in delicious ways. It’s a fantastic option for when you have a group or a duo of people who can’t agree on what to eat for dinner, or if you can’t decide which you want more-- breakfast or fish. 

They have a full bar, so if you want a beer or cocktail with your pancakes or scallops, you’re guaranteed a great match. They run daily specials-- Tuesday through Thursday have all-you-can-eat seafood specials-- and they run an expanded menu on weekends. They also have a kid’s menu. They take reservations and do take-out, so you’re always going to get the food experience you want. Leave room for the multiple dessert options, from classic pies to bananas foster to ice cream floats. 

“We super love Glenn's Diner and try to stop by whenever visiting… There's no way you couldn't find something you want to eat here. Between the FRESH seafood, diner food, pasta dishes, breakfast food… Awesome selection. Hard to decide and not over-order every time.”-- Yelp Review


Jeri’s Grill 

4357 N. Western Ave. 

Keeping it classic for over 50 years.  

Keeping it classic for over 50 years, Jeri’s Grill is that iconic diner you know and love-- why mess with perfection? Image courtesy of Jim M. on Yelp

Jeri’s doesn’t have a website, WiFi, TVs, or distractions of modern life. What they do have is great food, 24-hour friendly service, and in the grand tradition of diner’s, is cash-only to keep the cost of their fare down. No frills, just good diner food the way you expect it to taste-- satisfying, fulfilling, and easy to eat. 

Breakfast, lunch, or dinner served up right with a smile. Do try to get in before 2pm at least once to try the biscuits and gravy-- they stop serving it after that because it’s just too popular to keep up with demand. Family-owned and run since 1963, don’t miss this joint when you’re craving breakfast, lunch or dinner any time of the day or night. 

“This place is the real deal. Not retro. Authentic. A diner like you see on movies from the 30's and the 40's. I don't think it has changed since then… Good classic greasy spoon food.” --Yelp Review 


Hollywood Grill 

1601 W. North Ave. 

hollywood-grill.com 

Shining a spotlight on tons of options!  

Hashbrowns and a veggie omelette? Sign us up, buttercup! Image courtesy of Cassandra A. on Yelp.

The Hollywood Grill is so good, it has two parking lots to meet its customer’s needs! Popular eats include their french toast, scrambled eggs, and club sandwiches, but the menu is HUGE-- you’ll definitely find something to hit the spot!  A kid-friendly atmosphere with no Wi-Fi so you can actually hold a conversation about what matters to them, with no social media or digital distractions to interrupt. 

Hollywood Grill opened in 1995, and has stayed open 24/7 serving breakfast, lunch and dinner ever since. As you might imagine from the name, the theme is movies-- this could be a great time to introduce your kids to the Kevin Bacon Game or 8 Degrees of Separation Hollywood-style! 

“... Hollywood Grill was beyond satisfying… one of the greatest decisions I've made… You know a spot is good when it's so packed at the 4am hour… that it's hard to find a seat. Hollywood Grill is now my late night North Star (or solid brunch backup option) just like that friend that always accepts you no matter what you get yourself into this time.” --Yelp Review


Alexander’s

6158 N. Clark St. 

Alexanderschicago.com 

Greasy spoon fare with a Grecian twist.  

The highly-recommended Gypsy Skillet is a thing of delicious beauty. Image courtesy of Chris M. on Yelp.  

Established in 1954 by Grecian immigrant Paul in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood, Alexander’s has been in the family ever since. Their breakfast, lunch, and dinner options have that special Greek twist-- top hits include the Gypsy Skillet, Eggs Benedict, and Ladies Skillet. Skillets are made with a base of hashbrowns and always use at least two eggs. 

Alexander’s also offers both pancakes and crepes, as well as a selection of “melt” sandwiches, wraps, Grecian Specialities like gyros, and full-blown entrees like veal and pasta. Be aware, though, they close early at 4pm!  They can prepare any item for take-out, though, so you can grab dinner on the way home and never have to cook. However, we urge you to make the time to stop in and sit down-- Alexander’s has some dedicated regulars, and everyone will make you feel right at home, or better! 

“Alexander's is by far one of the Best Family Diners in Chicago! Very clean and very affordable and the food is outstanding! I've been coming here for over 30 years and highly recommend it!!!”-- Yelp Review 





Huck Finn Restaurant 

6650 S. Pulaski Rd. 

3414 S. Archer Ave. 

10501 S. Cicero Ave. / Oak Lawn, IL | Huckfinsrestaurant.com 

Come in with the appetite of a 12-year-old boy and leave utterly full and happy. 

The Cinnamon Roll French Toast is a customer favorite at the Huck Finn Restaurant. Image courtesy of the Huck Finn Restaurant Facebook.

Most folks know the Huck Finn Restaurant mini-chain for their award-winning donuts. They are, after all, as big as your head and absolutely scrummy topped with ice cream! But all three locations serve breakfast all day-- just like a classic diner-- and some of their most popular dishes are named after the novel’s characters. The Becky Thatcher breakfast is a good example-- a classic combo of eggs, bacon, sausage and pancakes. In the mood for something cool or a salad instead? They’ve got that too-- including a stuffed tomato and a California Fruit Plate. 

The best burgers carry Huck’s name, and their other dinner options include sandwiches, pork, veal, pasta, and seafood. If you can’t find something to eat and love on this menu, then you didn’t eat at the Huck Finn Restaurant. Open 24-hours and offers free Wi-Fi and takeout. Family owned and operated for over 40 years. As with any diner, just show up as you are-- they don’t take reservations. 

“I have been going to this Huck Finn's for decades. I've literally never ordered something I didn't love. The ham and cheddar omelette is fantastic. The chicken noodle soup is pure comfort food. Be prepared that the portions are usually large…” -- Yelp Review 


Little Goat Diner 

820 W. Randolph St. 

littlegoatchicago.com 

Reimagine the classic diner with global influences!  

“This Little Piggy Went to China” is a customer favorite! Image courtesy of Tulina S. on Yelp.  

The Little Goat Diner has so much going for it in addition to it’s fabulous eats-- a kids’ menu, valet parking, a full bar, catering, free WiFi, TVs and outdoor seating, plus more! Youngish in comparison to other diners-- Little Goat opened in 2012-- Little Goat is chef Stephanie Izard’s dream of the classic diner with all-day breakfast, lunch and dinner options. In true modern style, they offer vegetarian and vegan options, too. All of the diner staples you love, but with modern and global influences! 

For example, Little Goat doesn’t just offer pancakes-- they offer spice apple pancakes reminiscent of German pancakes, made with vanilla malt butter and oatmeal crumble. There’s also options inspired by Asian street food, such as This Little Piggy Went to China and Okonomiyaki. Try the Pork Belly Home Fries! Seriously great food you wouldn’t expect from a diner, but maybe you should-- the Little Goat Diner urges you to come like its namesake and eat everything. You won’t leave hungry! 

“The food was spectacular! … Every time we go here it is a food-orgasm. Love this place.”-- Yelp Review




What are you waiting for!? Get out there and chow down! Image courtesy of Pexels

Can’t wait to try these diners? We can’t either! Be sure to spread the food love around by sending a GiftYa personalized e-gift card to a loved one today, from and to anywhere, anytime! A great way to encourage friends and family to shop small-- or in this case, eat local!

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