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February 22, 2013

Roundup: Our Top Picks For The Best Old-School Diners In Philadelphia

Philadelphia knows classic diners. At South Philadelphia landmarks like the Melrose Diner (above) and the Oregon Diner, you will find no-nonsense service, an authentic blue-collar attitude and classic diner fare served up 24/7. (Photo by G. Widman for GPTMC.)

Uwishunu has caught a case of Oscar Fever. With all the buzz around Silver Linings Playbook and its eight oscar nominations this Sunday, we couldn’t help but get caught up in it all.

We’ve rounded up our top picks for Oscar Viewing parties on Sunday; we’ve put together a Silver Linings-themed itinerary of Philadelphia; and now one of the many great scenes of the movie has inspired us to put together a roundup of iconic old-school diners in and around Philadelphia.

As you probably know, Silver Linings Playbook is set in and around Philadelphia and was largely filmed here. One of the locations that figures prominently in the film is the legendary Llanerch Diner in Upper Darby, just outside the city.

The Llanerch is the scene of the first “non date” date between the characters of Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. (If you want a sneak peek, you can see parts of the scene about a minute into the movie’s trailer, embedded below.)

But long before it got its star turn in Silver Linings, the Llanerch Diner has been an institution among locals in Delaware County.

And it’s just one of many iconic diners that pretty much blanket Philadelphia proper, stretching all the way from the Great Northeast across the city to deep South Philadelphia. So we decided to put together a quick roundup of some of the most well known and well-frequented classic diners in Philadelphia, making an effort to cover as many neighborhoods as we could.

Check out our list below and if you have a favorite diner from growing up in or around Philadelphia, be sure to let us know your favorite spot in the comments below.

• Melrose Diner: The slogan at the Melrose Diner, a 70-plus-year-old South Philly institution, is “Everybody who knows goes to the Melrose.” And, on weekend nights, it seems like every Philadelphian does. Booths here are shared, peach pies are homemade and the longtime servers are no-nonsense.

• Trolley Car Diner: The large neon lights reflect off the silver exterior of the Trolley Car Diner, a Mount Airy mainstay on Germantown Avenue serving up fresh, locally-sourced fare. Nostaglic noshers can sip La Colombe coffee while they work their way through a stack of hotcakes and the local paper’s crossword puzzle.

• The Mayfair Diner: Located in the — you guessed it — Mayfair section of Northeast Philadelphia, The Mayfair Diner has been a local favorite since 1932. President Obama has even eaten here. The classic diner-style restaurant is 125 feet in length, making it one of the longest diners in the area. NB: we still recommend getting there early on the weekends.

• Bob’s Diner: Touted as the place “where good people meet to eat,” Bob’s Diner has been serving the good people of Roxborough for more than 20 years from a vintage 1940s silver dining car on Ridge Avenue. (Take a sneak peek at Bob’s here.)

• The Dining Car: Located deep in the great Northeast, The Dining Car has been around for more than 50 years. This “Great American Diner” is famous for its French onion soup and Jewish apple cake. There’s also a full bar.

• Down Home Diner: Inside the always bustling Reading Terminal Market you’ll find the Down Home Diner, a little slice of “when times were simpler” that serves up no nonsense diner food to the Center City faithful.

The legendary Llanerch Diner in Upper Darby is now even more famous after its star turn in the Oscar-nominated film 'Silver Linings Playbook,' a still from which is seen here. (Image courtesy Silver Linings Playbook)

• Oregon Diner: Located deep in the heart of South Philadelphia, the Oregon Diner has been serving up classic diner fare around the clock for more than 20 years now.

• Manayunk Diner: Tried and true, the Manayunk Diner serves up hot breakfast to the East Falls, Roxborough and Manayunk area until 2 a.m.

• Penrose Diner: With its close proximity to the stadiums and special late-night menu, the Penrose Diner is the perfect spot to fuel up on dippy eggs and scrapple after the game (or before the tailgate for that matter).

• Little Pete’s: This cash-only, cheap eats diner off Rittenhouse Square has been filling bellies at 3 a.m. with delicious home-style hits for years. A Little Pete’s breakfast doubles as the perfect way to kick off the day or, conversely, end the night. (215) 545-5508

Check out more diner picks, including the legendary Llanerch, below.

Countryside

• Llanerch Diner: The Llanerch helped inspire this roundup. It’s been an Upper Darby institution since 1952. And now, thanks to its star turn in Silver Linings, the Llanerch is more popular than ever. The classic diner fare is served 24 hours a day, and is best enjoyed in the booth Bradley Cooper sat in. But be prepared for a wait, especially if you want to sit in the “Bradley Cooper Booth.” Did we mention they’re hosting an Oscar Viewing party this Sunday? Pretty awesome.

• Daddypops: This retro diner in Hatboro, Montgomery County has been around since the 1950s and has been featured on The Food Network. Daddypops serves up huge portions with a side of charm. And with a name like Daddypops, it’s got to be good. (215) 675-9717

• Lancer’s Diner: Dating back to the 1940s, Lancers Diner in Horsham, Montgomery County has served as a true diner destination and continues to maintain its original recipe for hospitality.

• Eagle Diner: At Eagle Diner in Bucks County, one thing is for sure: you won’t walk away hungry. It’s a family-owned, always-open diner that keeps the locals coming back for more.

Yes, please. We'll take a side of scrapple too, thank you very much. (Photo by G.Widman for GPTMC)

Check out the trailer for Silver Linings Playbook below. You can catch a glimpse of the Llanerch Diner scene around 1:20.
 

 
Do you have a favorite diner from growing up in or around Philadelphia? Let us know in the comments.

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Springfield Diner, Baltimore Pike, Springfield, Delaware County, Pa. Great food, great staff, consistantly busy – must be a winner

Robin D. Canning says:

I’ve been gone from the area now, for 35 yrs, so it is wonderful to receive FB postings updating me about what is going on in Philly. Before I left the area, friends & I used to go to the wonderful diner in the NE on Roosevelt Blvd near Cottman Ave. I have no idea if it is still there, but it was wonderful!

you forgot a major landmark diner in the NE that has served up yummy food for a very long time at least 53 years if not linger. Country Club diner on Cottman Avenue.

Tami Griffith-Ludwigsen says:

I agree with Douglas! Minellas Mainline Diner in Wayne on Lancaster Avenue (Route 30) was great! I spent many a late evening there with my high school buddies sipping soda and eating burgers.

Michaelene says:

The Mayfair Diner is an institution. My parents and grandparents began bringing me there over 40yrs ago and we always loved it. We have been to the other but the neighborhood feel of the locals (our neighbors) that we would meet there made it great. Food was always good and the waitstaff treated you like family.

My 2nd Choice is Melrose then Llanerch. Dining Car would have been 3rd for me but they always charged too much for what you ordered. Wonder if that is still the same?

eli says:

You have to be kidding me…The Manayunk Diner food is HORRIBLE!! Oregon dinner is awesome though

Rachael Gray-Raff says:

Country Club Diner in Northeast Philly, or for a longer trek, Quakertown Diner!
Now I live in southern NJ and it’s Ponzios or Cherry Hill Diner.

Donald W. (Doc) Parker says:

Littletons Diner on Ogontz Ave just above 80th was a mainstay in West Oak Lane in the 60′s and 70′s (folks say it started to slowly go down hill in the 80′s until it’s eventual close); always good fresh food, healthy portions, served in a clean environment and full of friendly people.

ML says:

The Manayunk Diner is absolutely awful. There are plenty of better diners in Manayunk…

Bette says:

Among the newcomers is The Springfield Diner in Delco. Huge menu, and everything is delish!

Jack Altieri says:

What about Millies Love Inn on Rising Sun Ave

Bob says:

most are overrated. Melrose and Oregon are the most overrated. The dining car is really good.

Mary Ellen Zisette says:

I enjoy the Mayfair diner, I go there at least once a week with my Son, and we always enjoy our breakfast.

Melissa says:

The Dining Car has the BEST French onion soup.I would get the soup and the Torresdale Deluxe burger. I am still looking for a French onion soup to compare and so far none found.
Personally I think that the Mayfair diner is over-rated.

GBM says:

Tom Jones diner in Brookhaven PA… the legendary Blue Ribbon Special deserves a nod

M. Ryan Larigan says:

Love, love, love Daddypops! That place is like heaven and another slice of home. I still have my mug there and the staff is awesome, always busy (except for hump day). If you’re ever in the NE suburbs most certainly take a meal at Daddypops. You won’t regret it!

Jill says:

Love Oregon Diner! Used to call it Organ Donor because we loved it so much! Anyone ever been to Clown Diner in the NE?