Connecticut Magazine recently rounded up the Best Diners in CT. Here's the list...
What makes a diner a diner? Is it stainless steel? A counter and stools? A building that’s been manufactured in a different location? Breakfast service 24 hours a day? To some devotees of the classic American diner, it is all of these things, and more. We’ve elected to be a bit more inclusive in our requirements. For us, a diner must offer typical American fare at reasonable prices in a comfortable setting, and perhaps most importantly, serve breakfast during all hours of operation. So get ready to hit the road to check out our picks for the best diners in Connecticut. Whether it’s the stellar food, the glistening metal, the glowing neon or the community feel, all have something to offer.
This eastern Connecticut eatery holds a special place in diner lore. Fitting the definition of a classic American diner that’s been prefabricated, it’s one of only two diners ever made by Oyster Bay, New York-based Bramson Engineering Co., primarily known as a maker of hospital equipment. The structure opened as the Boulevard Diner in East Hartford in the early ’60s, then moved briefly to Southbury and then to South Windham, where it operated as the South Windham Diner until 1995. Sitting unused for years, it was donated to the American Diner Museum in Providence, Rhode Island, before being purchased, restored and opened in its current location in 2005. The food is what you’d expect: all-day breakfast, big portions, popular burgers, hand-cut fries and house-made milkshakes. Connecticut-made Hosmer Mountain soda is offered. The diner’s exterior is one of the state’s most attractive, with “Aero Diner” in a neon-green retro script with an airplane between the words (the two-runway Windham Airport is just down the road). Oh, about that other Bramson diner — no one seems to know what happened to it.
A holy site for breakfast in Connecticut, this diner, opened in 1941, is such an institution in Middletown that when, in 2006, the spot was decimated by a fire, the community pitched in to help it reopen the following year. A variety of breakfast and lunch dishes with a strong Irish influence are offered in this classic diner atmosphere full of hustle and bustle. From bangers and mash to buttermilk pancakes and eggs topped with house-cured meats, it’s quickly clear why there is often a wait to eat here. The “Brian’s Breakfast” special is a must-try for adventurous eaters. It is a two-course surprise meal that consists of what owner and chef Brian O’Rourke (his family has owned the spot since the beginning) feels like making that day. We tried the dish last year and enjoyed one of the best breakfast experiences ever. O’Rourke’s is open 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily.
This diner sits just off I-95 in West Haven, and features an excellent menu, even for vegans and the gluten-intolerant, who don’t necessarily get prioritized on most diner menus. Georgie’s was built in 1956 in New Rochelle, New York, and has been in its current location since 1967. Bathed in magnificent chrome, with a classic Art Deco sign featuring the typical typography of American road food, it checks all the quintessential diner boxes. Unlike some diners where the aesthetic beauty and tradition comes at the expense of food quality, Georgie’s takes great pride in offering items like fresh-squeezed orange juice, grass-fed beef and organic eggs. Generous portions mean that you won’t leave wanting, either.
Uncle D’s Diner
As is proudly stated on this diner’s website, “If you crave hometown comfort food with a retro flair, then Uncle D’s Diner has the charm, family atmosphere and expansive menu that will quench your appetite and delight your tastebuds.” Owned by husband-and-wife team Darren and Kathy Anderson, Uncle D’s offers lunch, and a robust breakfast menu. In addition to items such as eggs, omelettes, Belgian waffles and Texas French toast, the diner features a signature dish called Uncle D’s Cadillac Taco. It consists of an 8-inch flour tortilla, fried crispy and formed into a taco shell, topped with a toasted corn taco shell, and filled with seasoned ground beef, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, salsa and sour cream.
If there was an entry for “American Diner” in the encyclopedia, you might see a picture of the Olympia Diner on the Berlin Turnpike in Newington — such is the iconic nature of this Connecticut institution. To cruise the Berlin Turnpike, watch the drag racers, check out the businesses new and old, and gaze up at the glorious neon sign of the Olympia is to (in some ways) cut right to the heart of the American experience. The Olympia has been featured in the Zippy comic strip (along with Zip’s from our list). Known to locals as the “OD,” the diner claims to be the “longest stainless steel diner in the country.” The Olympia was first located in Massachusetts before relocating to the Turnpike in 1954.
View the complete list of CT's Best Diners at Connecticut Magazine.