To the surprise of no one who has eaten at one, eight Greek-American diners ranked among the 50 best in the United States by the Food Network, which noted their long-standing reputation for unbeatable food at fair prices, which has kept customers coming for generations.
The highest, at #14, was Stax Omega Diner in Greenville, South Carolina. It was especially acclaimed for its desserts and said that owner George Koumoustiotis, whose father founded the diner in 1988, has upheld its legacy well.
He’s put his own fresh, Mediterranean-Greek-inspired twist on the menu, including his personal favorite dish, Tuscan Chicken and kudos were given for the extra-virgin olive oil imported from the Koumoustiotis family farm in Sparta. But try the southern menu too, especially shrimp and grits with andouille sausage, smoked bacon and aromatics.
At #20 was the Peter Pan Diner in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, where breakfast is so popular that owner Jeronimos Kourkoumelis’ place prepares more than 1,000 dozen eggs every week, and the prices go back to an earlier time: two pancakes, two eggs and two bacon strips for $4.50.
The Greek tradition isn’t sidelined either as it offers gyro platters, horiatiki salad, and spanakopita that may be the best outside what your family makes at home.
A favorite of Olympic gold medal swimmer Michael Phelps is the Sip & Bite Diner in Baltimore, which comes in at #21 and has been around since 1948, a favorite of blue-collar workers, families, lawyers and Towson University students.
Owners Sofia and Tony Vasiliades have also maintained their family’s proud Greek heritage with an extensive roster of specialties like gyros, souvlaki and the best-selling spanakopita, a cheesy spinach pie that Guy Fieri fell hard for on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, the report said.
At #27 comes Georgie’s Diner in West Haven, Connecticut where Greek immigrants George and Irene Anthis bought the diner in the early 1970s, and today their children, brother-and-sister team Nico Anthis and Georgette Kapetaneas, run the show and have a menu centered around food from scratch, diverse and ranging from Greek favorites to pancakes, rib eye, a Seoul burger, and Belgian Death cake dessert. It’s right by the beach too.
The Worcester, Massachusetts Corner Lunch Diner was ranked #32 and moved there in 1958 from New York. It’s a real old-school place, with a baked-enamel finish in 1960’s shades such as pastel yellow and green but people come for the food.
Owner Charles Boukalis likes to mix in friendly taunts but you’ll have your head down digging into The Mess, seasoned hash browns folded with onions, peppers and scrambled eggs, plus ham, bacon or sausage (or all three, if you want) smothered in cheddar cheese.
Try the Summit Diner in Summit, New Jersey which is #37. Jim Greberis’ uncle and father-in-law bought it from the original owners in 1964, and he and his wife Michelle have run the place since 1980 and it looks pretty much the same as it did then. Besides traditional breakfasts you’ll find moussaka, spanakopita and pasticcio and American dishes like roast beef, ham or turkey.
At #39 is Lindy’s Diner in Albuquerque, New Mexico on the famed Route 66, the restaurant being seen in some 32 movies and where President Bill Clinton spoke. Go for the Cowboy Breakfast.
The Vatoseow family, who have owned the diner since 1971, showcase the Spartacus Burger, topped with sliced gyro and feta and served with a side of tzatziki sauce.
The Kozy Korner in Wilmington, Delaware is #45. Third-generation owner John Vouras keeps up Greek specialities with spanakopita, moussaka and his personal favorite, marinated-chicken gyros, share the menu with American classics like chipped beef, a throwback dish of dried beef and cream sauce on top of toast.