Our Five Faves

Best diners

Posted January 20, 2014

The glowing neon and extensive menu are diner signatures.

Breakfast, they say, is the most important meal of the day. That makes the restaurant that serves breakfast all day a unique treat.

But what about when breakfast lovers dine with those who prefer a more traditional dinner? That's where the diner comes in. Couple creative omelets with comfort food. Serve up a hearty meal at a price that's light on the wallet. That's the diner ethos, and we have a fine selection here in the Triangle. Here are a few of our favorites:

NY Diner in Knightdale is an east Wake hidden gem, tucked into a strip mall behind a Walmart. In true East Coast mode, NY Diner serves up an almost endless variety of options ranging from pancakes and eggs to turkey and gravy to Italian and seafood specialties. The atmosphere is pure practicality, and the service swift. 

Watkins Grill on Wake Forest Road continues the theme of simplicity in abundance. Watkins is not much to look at, but super-cheap prices and big portions make it a great value and fan favorite. Go for the super sandwiches, including the burgers named for Civil War soldiers, or choose the precisely named meat and 2 veg. 

If you are in a hurry, Sunny's near Brier Creek is a top choice for breakfast or lunch. Sunny's hits the authenticity notes that define Yankee diners. The voluminous menu even includes scrapple (Google it) and Sanka!

Joe's Diner in Durham is best known for their 1-pound hot dogs, but you won't want to overlook the vast and cheap breakfast options. From pancakes and eggs to Belgian waffles and corned beef hash, Joe's serves it up fresh, fast and with no frills.

The one thing our diner tour failed to find was the perfect, greasy, after-hours option. Elmo's in Durham makes up for closing at 10 p.m. by offering what are known as "disco fries." These are the salty, cheesy delight that re-fuel revelers after a night out. Elmo's serves them up with a melted cheese combo, sour cream, scallions and optional bacon and chili.


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  • czanga Jan 21, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Thank you for pointing this out!

    Caitlin Zanga
    WRAL Out & About Producer

  • archmaker Jan 20, 2014

    currently, (10am Monday) your links for Sunny's and Joe's are reversed.