When it comes to comfort food, your Mama might make the best meatloaf. But waking Mom up at 4am and asking her to make you a fresh loaf? You're getting written out of the will. Thank god, then, that we live in a country where the 24-hour diner is as American as the apple pie they serve after a sweet older lady (Mom?!) calls you "hon" and offers to melt cheese on top. These are 24 of our favorite American purveyors of blue plate awesomeness... places that never sleep in their mission to keep you fed all day, every day. You want a scoop of ice cream on that, hon? Yes. Yes you do.
Fleetwood Diner (Ann Arbor, MI)
University of Michigan students and Ann Arbor locals share the limited space inside this trailer diner -- there are only a handful of tables, so plan accordingly. Hefty breakfast combos and omelets make it worth the wait any day.
What you're getting: The Ann Arbor institution is famous for its Hippie Hash, a plate of homemade hash browns covered with grilled tomatoes, green peppers, onions, mushrooms, and broccoli... then buried in Widespread bootlegs. Or, feta. Definitely feta.
The Majestic Diner (Atlanta, GA)
This chrome diner has anchored a Ponce de Leon Ave corner since 1929: the joint's been around long enough to earn bucket-list restaurant status for ATL residents, and a massive, spicy Mexican omelet is just as good at 10am as it is at the end of a night out in nearby Little Five Points.
What you're getting: If you're actually there for breakfast -- 6am-2pm, not 3am -- grab the chicken and biscuits with gravy. Burgers and bagel sandwiches are great for all other hours.
24 Diner (Austin, TX)
Intensely delicious made-to-order milkshakes and the kind-of-fancy burgers --like Bacon Gorgonzola or a lamb burger with goat cheese -- that are the things of diner dreams. That you can get them any time you wish makes that dream a reality.
What you're getting: Everyone's favorite crispy, golden duo: the chicken and (Belgian) waffle combo.
Broadway Diner (Baltimore, MD)
Guy Fieri (that's pronounced "gey fay-ett-eeeeeh") may be everyone's favorite TV punching bag, but he really know his diners, drive-ins, and other eateries that start with d's (Dunkin' Donuts?), and he loved this family-run Charm City restaurant so much that he went and called the goulash "goulishious". Ugh... somebody punch that dude.
What you're getting: Both the Challah bread French toast and the Broadway Festival -- pasta loaded with shrimp, scallops, clams, lobster, mussels, and calamari -- could separately force you back into bed no matter what time it is. Together, you're definitely out of commission for a solid day. Don't try it.
South Street Diner (Boston, MA)
The Worcester Lunch Car Company -- they mass-produced diners in the first half of the 20th century, so we owe a lot to these guys -- opened this place in 1947 to feed workers in the surrounding factories. Grab a pint and raise a toast to that time Kevin Spacey taught his MIT students about counting blackjack cards inside... with the help of a few South Street condiments.
What you're getting: Grab a giant stack of pancakes -- banana-walnut is worth a try. But with that pint, it's hard to beat buffalo fingers.
Steve's Lunch (Cleveland, OH)
Cleveland’s pocket-sized institution has been serving lunch (... and dinner and breakfast) 364 days a year (it closes on Christmas -- usually) since 1955. Grab a seat and relax with a tune on the tabletop jukebox.
What you're getting: A Polish Boy, a local classic that consists of a kielbasa sausage, coleslaw, and fries, covered in hot sauce.
Maxwell Street Depot (Chicago, IL)
Its massive, yellow signage completely dominates this tiny, counter-only store whose menu is limited to a pork chop sandwich, Polish sausage, burgers, and fries.
What you're getting: A perfectly caramelized, juicy pork chop sandwich for under $5? It's not even a question. Just watch out for the bone since, well, it's still in there.
Tick Tock Diner (Clifton, NJ)
Jersey snags the title of diner capital of the world so the competition is fierce. Like, a Snooki/J.Woww grudge match against the Boss/Jon Bon fierce. This joint's solidly on the list thanks to its greasy spoon deliciousness. Plus, a former manager once put out a hit on the owner. In Jersey, that's called becoming a man... and we're not going to draw any wrath by exclusion.
What you're getting: Disco fries: the cheese/gravy-topped fries that are oddly unique to the state.
Pop Diner (Dallas, TX)
This '80s themed diner, complete with giant pictures of the decade's icons like Michael J. Fox and Punky Brewster, pours booze for almost 24 hours -- there's a five-hour break from 2am to 7am where you'll be out of luck -- and Detroit-style Coneys and naanies (think chicken-finger gyros) are available non-stop.
What you're getting: A chili-topped dog will pair surprisingly well with that Pop Rock Martini you have to get.
Angelo's Coney Island (Flint, MI)
To the uninitiated, a Flint-style Coney is a hot dog smothered in mustard and a secret meat-sauce, and it's about the greatest thing ever. Angelo's makes the absolute best in the world… and being the best greatest thing ever is no small task. Blues singers have written songs about Angelo's, and the original location itself is considered a landmark. In a city that consistently ranks among the most impoverished and violent in the country, Angelo's is a place where everybody comes together to share a little hot dog diplomacy at $2 a pop, 365 days a year.
What you're getting: The original Coney Island is the real deal. You have the option to mess with perfection and add cheese, but no matter what you do, don't overlook a gigantic side of fries covered in brown gravy.
The Original Pantry Cafe (Los Angeles, CA)
This LA staple's slogan -- coined by former LA mayor/current Pantry owner Richard Riordan -- says it all: "Since 1924, never closed, never without a customer". It's cash-only, and the lines are typically long, but the epically large servings, sides of sourdough bread and slaw, and fluffy pancakes make us believe the tagline is more than just hot air.
What you're getting: Pancakes if you're feeling the breakfast vibe, hot beef sandwich with au jus if you're into perfectly pink roast beef. Grab a slice of apple pie either way.
Hash House A Go Go (Las Vegas, NV)
If you're desperately in need of a little hair-of-the-dog -- and you're in Vegas, so you are -- the massive menu might be a bit intimidating. But with griddled meatloaf sandwiches, chorizo hash, and sage fried chicken, it's also exactly what you want.
What you're getting: You'll re-coin the "Everything's bigger in..." phrase in HHAGG's favor when you see the Sage Fried Chicken & Waffle stack...
11th Street Diner (Miami, FL)
Spring breakers, raucous club goers, and loyal locals stock the benches at this South Beach staple, housed inside a retrofitted 1946 diner relocated from Wilkes Barre, PA. If Tuesday morning at 3am is your prime drinking hour, you'll be out of luck -- the full bar is only open until 5am on Thursday-Sunday.
What you're getting: The Challah bread French toast is available 24 hours, and can fortify you for the day or at the end of a long night.
Cafe Coco (Nashville, TN)
Don’t worry: That person you met after a long night on Vandy’s bar circuit isn’t taking you to bust into a random home -- Cafe Coco ditches the diner facade for a brick house tucked along Elliston Place. Sloppy poutine, greasy burgers, and a 7am happy hour should tip you off that this 24-hour coffee shop/all-night nosh shack is legit. (Editor’s note: Should you accidentally stumble into a random house where 3am gravy and curd-topped fries are happening, don’t run. Please just become best friends.)
What you're getting: They aren't kidding with the name "Big Brutus": the beast has three eggs scrambled with grilled onions, tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms (look at you getting veggies in your diet!), and cheddar cheese... served over tots.
Clover Grill (New Orleans, LA)
It's far enough down Bourbon Street to avoid the utter chaos of the neon lights that make the strip famous, but close enough to have a joke-filled menu which includes, "No strange tricks at tables, please. Please keep hands on top of the table. No talking to yourself".
What you're getting: The burgers are delicious behemoths -- griddled beneath actual hubcaps. American-made hubcaps, to be exact.
Waverly Restaurant (New York, NY)
There are fancier diners filling NYC's West Side these days, but the red Nuagahyde booths, eggs served in skillets, and neon signage lighting up Sixth Ave are unbeatable for comfort and nostalgia.
What you're getting: Don't get lost in the many-paged menu -- grab any of the egg options (you essentially have a choice of how many eggs and what protein you want), which come with toast and home fries and are delivered on that sizzling skillet.
South Street Diner (Philadelphia, PA)
24-hour options are limited in Philly, but even if they weren't, South Street would still stand out with its plate of fresh-roasted turkey with stuffing and gravy, cheesesteak sandwich, or morning plate of pork chops and eggs covering tables at any hour.
What you're getting: Diner pies are a dying breed, so choose a classic slice, like the banana cream or lemon meringue.
The Original Hotcake House (Portland, OR)
Portland's 24-hour haunt is not so much a destination as a place you end up without thinking -- like a heat-seeking missile. Brains left unable to choose after a night out, staunch regulars, and starved office workers end up at these tables subconsciously drawn to its massive servings and cheap prices.
What you're getting: Our homepage editor, a P-town local, recommends a combination of hotcakes (they're giant), hash browns (they're fresh-cut), and chicken-fried steak (rumor has it this is Snoop Dogg's Portland meal of choice), proving she's a girl after our own hearts and that we would like to eat with her for all late-night meals.
Rose Donuts (San Diego, CA)
San Diegans can grab Mexican food at 4am that would make the rest of the country jealous at any hour, but the basic all-night breakfast food is harder to come by. Rose Donuts' bounty makes up for that -- the line-up is far more generous than the name suggests, with croissant, bagel, and basic bread sandwiches, plus egg plates, muffins, and other pastries.
What you're getting: The Deluxe Bagel: the buttered bagel comes with the breakfast/hangover motherlode of cheese, egg, ham, and bacon. And then grab a donut from the bakery case, because you should always feast on a namesake.
Sparky's 24 Hour Diner (San Francisco, CA)
Diner classics (disco fries, tuna melt, corned beef hash) pale next to the massive line-up of pizzas that are available from 5pm-3am and will make you blind to anything else in the wee hours of the morning.
What you're getting: We're all about the South of the Border pie: it's loaded with Guadalajara sauce, red onion, tomatoes, jalapeños, feta, green olives, ground beef, and spicy linguica. All of that is topped with a cheese sauce, because melted cheese is just boring at that point.
The Diner on Abercorn (Savannah, GA)
Formerly the Pankake Palace, The Diner boasts a '50s-style interior that would make the Fonz say "Aaaaaaay" and food that'll make you say "ow"... after you eat far too much of the massive servings.
What you're getting: Despite the name change, pancakes are still the star. Devour a plate of Oreo pancakes, because Oreo. Pancakes.
Lost Lake Cafe & Lounge (Seattle, WA)
With ‘60s diner decor and wood/stone paneled walls, Lost Lake looks like a place where Special Agent Dale Cooper could smile contentedly and declare the joe “a damn fine cup of coffee!” They lack any donuts, but with 24 taps and the blue plate meatloaf, we think Coop’d eventually get over it.
What you're getting: Once you taste deep-fried cheese curds, there's no going back to those boring mozz stix you normally crave late-night.
Uncle Bill's Pancake and Dinner House (St. Louis, MO)
What could be considered divey to some is simply a lack of renovating -- for many decades -- and it absolutely adds to Uncle Bill's diner appeal. All egg orders come with your choice of three huge pancakes or two biscuits or slices of toast (who would order toast after those other options?) for under $10. Uncle Bill is awesome.
What you're getting: The 2x2x2x2 special, because it's fun to say at any hour of the day, but also because it's two eggs, two pancakes, two pieces of bacon, and two sausage links.
The Diner DC (Washington, DC)
The Adams Morgan joint combines old-school American breakfast foods (their Greek omelet is killer) with an upscale diner vibe (everyone else's chocolate milkshakes will look boring after you try the Frangelico, Kahlua, vanilla ice cream-filled Coffee 'n' Cream adult shake). As such, it's essential.
What you're getting: Grab the rich Ponderosa Stomp omelet that's loaded with bacon, sausage, cream cheese, jalapeño, green onion, and pepper jack.