The classic neighborhood greasy spoon is a time-honored Philly tradition on par with celebratory greased-pole climbing. And even as some legendary diners shut their doors, Philadelphia is still a haven for those seeking breakfast for dinner, hangover-busting sandwiches, or brunch sans a hundred drunken 25-year-olds. Here’s a sampler platter of some of our favorite diners around town (and feel free to send us in some of your favs, too!)
Why It’s Great: It’s a 24-hour joint in a town that normally shuts down after midnight, the portions are obscenely enormous, the baked goods are all made in-house, and in true Philly fashion they even have water ice for dessert.
What to Order: The Liberty Bell Jamboree is their riff on a breakfast platter, with French toast or pancakes, eggs how you like ‘em, home fries, and bacon or sausage. (Plus water ice afterward, obviously).
Why It’s Great: South Philly’s Penrose Diner is a popular post- or pre-game destination for Eagles and Phillies fans, boasts an exhaustive, Cheesecake Factory-esque menu (steaks, seafood, and spaghetti living in culinary harmony!), and some choice $9 cocktails to boot.
What to Order: As mentioned above, the options are seemingly limitless. But it’s hard to argue with the South Philly omelet, featuring Italian sausage, sweet peppers, and provolone cheese.
Why It’s Great: Don't let the basic aesthetics fool you: this cash-only Bella Vista mainstay features homemade dishes with troll-tastic spins (expect to see politically charged specials, like the “Trump,” a white bread sandwich full of bologna with an extra small pickle) and a surprisingly solid selection of vegan options.
What to Order: For the meat-averse, Sam’s does a daily tofu scramble. For the pancake-obsessed, their extra fluffy Glory Cakes are some of the best in the biz.
Why It’s Great: This combo diner/beer garden/clubby lounge is definitely a modern take on an old classic (the actual diner is housed in a legit 50s dining car, which is a nice touch) but the comfort food delivers and cocktails are top notch.
What to Order: For the brunch crowd (Saturday and Sunday from 11am - 3pm), try the vanilla pancakes complete with berry compote and powdered sugar, and pair it with a pitcher of blood orange margaritas because you deserve it, reader!
H/T to Beatrice Forman of the Philadelphia Inquirer and City Cast Philly’s own Trenae Nuri for their reporting/picks.