BEST DINER - 2003
Just east of the small industrial wasteland around Hiawatha Avenue, south of the Seward neighborhood and north of Lake Street, lies the Diner. An immediate neighbor of such other neighborhood institutions as Stardust Lanes and the Hexagon Bar, the Diner has been on the corner of 26th and 27th since 1950, when the restaurant was converted from a garage. And though the space hasn't quite remained stuck in time (in fact improvements have been regular over the decades, including the addition of a new wheelchair accessible entrance a few years back), the overall character of the place feels like something other than present-day Minneapolis. The cavernous wood-paneled dining room is reminiscent of an up-north lodge, but the smaller area in the front (the original space), with its orange Formica booths and a few counter stools, really retains an old-school charm. Old photos of the family of owners abound, as do regulars who down coffee at the counter and converse with workers. The cooks make great sandwiches and an excellent Diner skillet (eggs with ham, onions, green peppers, and cheese served with hash browns and toast, all for $6.69) that you can get whenever you like, because breakfast is served all day. If none of that lures you in, perhaps the logo sign outside of the Diner will: It's a grinning man with a hamburger for a torso.