The college town diner is like a switch-hitter in baseball: It was probably the first place you took your parents to eat when they visited campus, and, if yours is open late, it’s probably the last place you go after a night of drinking so you can order some greasy grub. We looked at dozens of college towns across the country to find students and communities who took a ton of pride in their all-American diner joints. What they all had in common? Greasy goodness, and an atmosphere that might remind you of grandma’s—maybe not at 1 a.m. Here are 40 that stuck out, but be sure to tell us if your college town diner should be on the list in the comments below.
State Street Diner
Ithaca College – Ithaca, N.Y.
Students of Ithaca College hold the State Diner; near and dear—their go-to for any hankering. Since its 1936 opening, students and locals have traversed through the snow for top-notch fries and award-winning chili, served by the Stavropoulos family. Known for their Big Friday Fish Fry, the owners create a warm atmosphere, apt for the long winters Ithaca endures. Open seven days a week, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., snow or shine. —Virginia Croft
College Park Diner
University of Maryland – College Park, Md.
College Park Diner in College Park, Md., is simply an adorable old-fashioned breakfast shop. Service is quick—the smell of bacon and eggs will pull you in and servers will get you what you need to kick start your day. Known for their Belgium waffles and their creamed chipped beef, the College Park Diner satisfies. —Claire Woodcock
Morning Glory Diner
University of Pennsylvania – Philadelphia, Pa.
Otherwise known as "Sam’s" Morning Glory, established in 1997, the diner quickly became a go to for an intriguing brunch in the city of brotherly love. Aiming to be a health-oriented diner, Morning Glory; uses only the freshest ingredients. Open seven days a week and serving brunch on the weekends, the diner offers irresitibles like monkey bread french toast, pecan waffles, and—nothing better for a hungover college student—breakfast pizza. —Virginia Croft
Weslyan University – Middletown, Conn.
When I asked a Wesleyan undergrad about O’Rourke’s;, his response was, "Straight phenomenal. It has its own Wikipedia page." That’s because the diner has quite the comeback story—and some bragging rights. In 2006, a hamburger steamer left on overnight caused the nook to burn down. Since the diner had no fire insurance, the repairs had to be completely fundraised. Everything was fixed by 2008, and shortly thereafter, Guy Fieri featured the diner on an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, where he sampled an Irish Trilogy of French Toasts—not too shabby for a college town. —Virginia Croft
Tufts University – Boston, Mass.
For all those Tufts students who are just a bit too far from Boston to head into town for breakfast, Sound Bites;, in Somerville’s Ball Square is breakfast-all-day heaven. While only open during reasonable hours (6:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.), you can order the french toast stuffed with goat cheese and pears any time you want. The family that owns the place wants to capitalize on the line out the door, however, so learn to love the fact that you can be in and out within 20 minutes. —Jonah Ollman
Photo by Eric Kilby/Flickr
SUNY Fredonia – Fredonia, N.Y.
Going to Domus Fare; is like going to devour eggs benedict in your grandparents’ basement. Regardless of where you live, both the benedict and the glories of banana bread-turned-French toast make a pilgrimage to Fredonia, New York—about an hour southwest of Buffalo—worth it. With green-pressed ceilings and a cozy atmosphere, Domus Fare welcomes the locals and students of SUNY Fredonia seven days a week, serving lunch and dinner. Go ahead, cure your hangover with their heavenly filled french toast—the flavor changes daily. —Virginia Croft
Central Diner & Grille
University of Pittsburgh – Pittsburgh, Pa.
If you need a break from the hectic haze of school in Pittsburgh,Central Diner & Grille’s; got your back. One order of challah bread french toast with strawberries, bananas, walnuts and honey will send your tastebuds soaring. Central Diner & Grille is a diner on steroids—open late and offering breakfast food all day long. The owners are Greek, so the diner offers Greek meals like chicken athena, along with the classic American burger and a huge array of gourmet desserts, like a steamy death by chocolate cake.—Claire Woodcock
Keene State University – Keene, N.H.
For students of Keene State, Lindy’s; is more than just a place to chow down— it’s a domicile oozing with golden stories and memories of its previous lives. Lindy’s itself has quite a history, being manufactured in New Jersey and transported to New Hampshire in 1961. During the late ‘70s, the owners invited politicians to come and campaign in the diner, and since then, an impressive roster of presidents have visited Lindy’s, including George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Their cuisine’s diversity lies in little details— sausage kielbasa is a side order option, and authentic New Hampshire maple syrup is the only liquid gold you’ll find. Lindy’s even delivers. —Virginia Croft
Luna Grill & Diner
George Washington University – Washington, D.C.
Sunday mornings are the best part of living in D.C. If you’re strolling around, looking for cheap diners with your roommate, head over to Dupont Circle and check out Luna Grill & Diner.; The eggs are cooked to your liking and the bagels are fresh—they even have lox with blueberries on top. The waitstaff was on top of it but never hasty, and the check didn’t end up being too bad—for D.C., at least. —Claire Woodcock
Northeastern University; Boston University – Boston, Mass.
For a more literary breakfast food consumption experience, try Trident Café.; Hosting students from a multitude of Boston schools, like Northeastern and Boston University, the café not only serves food, but books too. When you’re not chowing down on their apple brie omelet, peruse the wide variety of books, awaiting your purchase. The menu choices are endless too, including banana and caramel stuffed pancakes and lemon ricotta french toast. Open every day from 8 a.m. to midnight, the café is a prime workspace for all kinds of students. The icing on the cake? They deliver, making Trident the answer to your late-night study cravings. —Virginia Croft