The Best Diners In Miami
photo credit: Cleveland Jennings
The diner is a beautiful sanctuary of classic breakfast foods and bottomless coffee. No other genre of restaurant makes both an eight-year-old and an 80-year-old equally as excited. And it’s easy to see why. Who doesn’t love pancakes, patty melts, and eggs made approximately 78 different ways? These Miami diners provide everything one could want from a proper diner experience—no matter how hungry or hungover you are.
Jimmy’s is a Miami classic, and one of our absolute favorite diners in Miami. It does all the things a great diner is supposed to do. There are leather booths that suck you in like quicksand, local radio playing in the dining room, and counter seating where you can comfortably dine solo and chug cup after cup of coffee. You can get an order of eggs with hash browns and sausage links for under $10, then come back for lunch and grab a patty melt on rye. Dinner isn’t an option at Jimmy’s—it closes around 4pm—even though they shot that dinner scene in Moonlight here.
It’s not a gallery and they don’t sell donuts. It’s a narrow breakfast and lunch spot with low vinyl stools that overlook a griddle—and it’s been a Key Biscayne institution since 1972. The walls are covered in photos of Key locals, and the counter’s footrest has indented footprints from regulars. Service is fast and friendly, the pancakes are fluffy, and the coffee is strong. But you can’t go to the Donut Gallery without ordering the Ted’s special. It’s an open-faced sandwich with ham, bacon, tomato slices, American cheese, and two fried eggs that run like a new computer—all on an English muffin. It’s a fork-and-knife situation that can also be served on French toast. Thankfully, after all these years, not much has changed at the Donut Gallery. Let’s keep it that way.
Stadium Diner is a Miami Gardens diner that gets its name due to its proximity to Hard Rock Stadium. So keep it in mind if you’re looking for somewhere to eat before or after a Dolphins game. But it’s also just a great diner. Service is quick, the menu will take you 90 minutes to read, and the interior is pure nostalgia, with walls covered in old-school Miami sports memorabilia. There’s counter seating for solo diners and bouncy booths for bigger groups. We like the lunch items a bit more than the breakfast dishes—particularly the patty melt—although they do make the best diner pancakes we’ve had in Miami.
Sunnyside Cafe is a small North Miami breakfast and lunch spot that may not scream diner at first glance, but it has the soul of one. It doesn’t have the space for booths, although there are a few small tables inside. Still, its breakfast combination plates (and their price points) will satisfy any diner cravings you may have—and they also make delicious little sliders they call baby burgers. Each teeny burger comes with diced griddled onions, American cheese, a pickle or two, and squishy buns. The side of fries are super crispy too.
Chug’s may not have the price point of your average diner, but it has the DNA of one. Inside there are booths, counter seating, and laminated menus you can flip through on each table. The menu has a great mix of straightforward Cuban classics—like a hefty la completa—and creative versions of classics, including a frita patty melt and a huge cast iron pancake. Like any great diner, dessert is a good idea. Chug’s rotating pie selection has never disappointed—nor have their rotating tres leches, especially the Yoo-hoo tres leches with housemade chocolate milk they occasionally serve. If you’re in a rush, their ventanita is perfect for a quick cafecito and a pastelito.
Technically, Walter’s could double as a sports bar, but it leans more golf claps than beer bongs. The laidback Palmetto Bay diner has a full bar, big screen TVs, and consistently solid food. We’re fans of the redneck benedict (its actual name)—two poached eggs, sausage patties, and biscuits are covered in thick sausage gravy with your choice of grits or home fries (order the home fries “well done” if you like your potatoes crispy). But they have an extensive menu that’ll pacify even the pickiest eaters. If the kids want Mickey Mouse pancakes while you enjoy a beer with your morning sports, this is the spot.
Waffle House is known for a few things: always staying open, its special dialect of food modifications, and the occasional WWE-style brawl. But the Waffle House in Miami Gardens doesn’t quite live up to the lore. This one is quiet and usually filled with locals eating cheese grits for lunch. Sure, if you order your hash browns “covered” in melted cheese you might get them “capped” with mushrooms instead, but for less than $10, you can get a solid Texas cheesesteak melt with sliced chuck steak, onions, and American cheese between two pieces of grilled texas toast with a side of hash browns. The plates are chipped and the silverware is plastic, but at least no one’s throwing chairs at each other.
Royal Castle has been around since 1958. Back then, the Miami-born concept was a successful chain with over 150 locations around the American south. Today, there’s only one left and thankfully it’s still in Miami (Gladeview, specifically). The Royal Castle of today looks like a fast-food restaurant from the outside but feels more like a simple neighborhood diner inside. It has pancakes, a T-bone steak, and a really good patty melt. But what they’re famous for are the sliders. you can order them in “six-packs” with some pretty good crinkle-cut fries. And there’s no rule against having sliders for breakfast. We checked.
Coral Bagels is a casual spot that—despite its misleading name—is on edge the of the Grove. They’re open for breakfast and lunch—but this is definitely a breakfast spot. It’s normally pretty crowded (especially on the weekends) with UM kids looking for pancakes or a bagel. It’s a solid option for an easy diner-style breakfast, whether you’re a hungover college kid or just someone looking for a decent bagel.
Chuck Wagon is a Kendall institution specializing in Southern-style breakfasts in a setting that feels like you’re in a live-action production of Oregon Trail (but without the dysentery). We love ordering a glass of juice with breakfast here for the sole reason that it’s served in a cowboy boot-shaped glass (which you can buy to take home when you pay at the counter). They serve all sorts of American breakfast classics, including solid pancakes and a good bowl of grits. However, a visit to Chuck Wagon without an order of biscuits and gravy is a crime. Especially since they serve one of the best versions in Miami.
Jimmy’s Place is a North Miami diner that feels like stepping into a time machine, which is how a proper diner should make you feel. The menu is huge—with sweet and savory breakfast plates alongside sandwiches, burgers, and dinner entrees like steak and meatloaf. In terms of the quality of food, it’s not the best diner in Miami. But this place does the trick if you stick to simple breakfast plates. Prices are super reasonable too. Also, we were called both “honey” and “sweetie” by our server—and that’s the mark of a true classic diner.
We debated putting El Rey on this guide. Because the Little Havana classic and home to our favorite frita in Miami isn't technically a diner. But there's an argument to be made (by us, right now) that it is. This place has plastic booths, a windy countertop where you can sit alone and eat in peace, and servers that are quick with the coffee (or beer). Plus, they open at 8am daily and have a small breakfast menu with dishes like steak and eggs or La Victoriano, their version of a breakfast sandwich that comes with eggs, ham, and cheese. Does that sound like a diner to you? It sure does to us.