10 classic gay diners to hang out at and carb load while they last

Sometimes there’s nothing like a good old fashioned greasy spoon diner. A spot where you can hang out with friends in a casual setting or have a quick bite on your own. 

While Debbie from Queer As Folk might not be there to take your order we still flock to these locations for comfort, community, and a hot meal. They are community institutions where we meet for dates, where we have our first or last job, where the meals are affordable for young and old, where we cruise without loud house music, where we gorge on carbs the morning after a night on the town.

But as real estate has gotten more expensive in our urban enclaves, and non-gay people have moved in, these spots and this way of life is threatened. So in honor of great queer spaces–and Dining out For Life–head out to your closest diner.

Here are a batch of our favorites that have survived despite the times:

1. Orphan Andy’s, San Francisco

Adventures  in San Francisco can leave anyone hungry. Looking for late night pancakes and a little chicken fried steak after a night of bar hopping and toking in the Castro? Orphan Andy’s has you covered. Take a step into the retro 24-hour diner, a true SF institution to sober up or kill a hangover after a night out on the town. Andy’s definitely fills up when the bar’s close. Pop in around the clock for great people watching and some yummy old school diner grub.

2. Rue la Rue, New York City

One could eat out every night in the Big Apple and still never hit every greasy spoon or neighborhood haunt. Rue La Rue Cafe is the brainchild of Michael La Rue who met Rue McClanahan at a charity event and opened a Golden Girls themed restaurant in Washington Heights earlier this year. The restaurant, featuring a variety of memorability and serving such dishes as “Dorothy’s salted caramel cheese cake” and “Rue’s Orange Poppyseed Cake.” Be sure to take a picture with the actual yellow phone used on the set of the hit (gay) show.

3. Melrose Restaurant, Chicago

Chicago is the nation’s third largest city and has a thriving gay community with a broad array of hotspots. Melrose Diner is a 24-hour establishment in Boystown, making the perfect antidote for your late night excursions. Coconut toasted French Toast with bananas and custard? Check. Poblano Eggs Benedict? Check Check. Expect to feel at home at Melrose regardless of if you’re inside with the crowd or out on the quaint patio. Founded in 1961, Melrose Diner has been a local staple in the neighborhood.

4. Peter Pan, Wilton Manors

Gay Fort Lauderdale is a tropical paradise for locals and tourists alike. The city offers gay beaches, sexy resorts and gay bars galore… but there’s one great spot to get some late night grub. Peter Pan is open 24 hours for anyone feeling peckish after a night of revelry, where gay men mix with every other walk of life. The usual American diner fare is on the menu.

5. South Street Diner, Boston

Formerly “The Blue Diner,” South Street Diner was built in 1947 by the Worcester Drinking Company to serve local factory workers. The around the clock establishment has become one of the most popular spots to hang out with friends, celebrity watch and keep the party going after the clubs close. Known as Boston’s only all-night dining spot seven nights a week, South Street isn’t necessarily an exclusively gay establishment, but it certainly does bring the boys to the yard.

6. Clover Grill, New Orleans

Clover Grill is a New Orleans staple and is the best diner you will find in the French Quarter. Serving breakfast 24 hours a day, the Clover Grill is always ready for your order. If you happen to find yourself out and hungry in the wee hours of the morning, the Clover Grill will hit the spot.

7. The Roxy, Portland

Although it lacks a specifically gay district, Portland makes up for that with all that it does have to offer, everywhere. Breakfast (and drag) is served 24/7 at Roxy, a quirky and popular Portland diner. Big, bookish menus are full of treats, including a breakfast menu with pancake offerings named after celebrities like Pamela Anderson and Dolly Parton, depending on how stacked you like them.

8. Einstein’s, Atlanta

“Hotlanta” attracts men and women from around the South who come here to live free. Though there are plenty of places to see and be seen many will agree that one great place to hit anytime of day is Einstein’s. Both gay-friendly and family-friendly, Einstein’s provides a friendly and relaxing atmosphere and good food. The cocktails are great, as are the sweet potato fries. The weekend Bloody Mary Brunch is hugely popular.

9. Hamburger Mary’s, Milwaukee

Milwaukee is a city that’s definitely not lacking in the food realm. With great restaurants on the East Side, Bay View, Walker’s Point, and all over the burbs there are tons of options to hit. Hamburger Mary’s is the perfect option for a night out at a good old fashioned gay diner with a little high kick. Though the original was in San Francisco and there are a variety of Hamburger Mary’s all over the country there’s something fun and especially outrageous about Hamburger Mary’s Milwaukee where Trixie Mattel turned it out before becoming a “Ru Gurl”. Pop in for tasty apps, juicy burgers, and delicious desserts (and plenty of Brew City sass!).

10. 18th & U Duplex Diner, Washington D.C. 

The diner food and booze at Duplex Diner brings in DC’s A-list crowd including politicians, pages, and cute boys who are just passing through town. Decorated with all kinds of rainbow and non rainbow knick-knacks and memorabilia—it’s a kitsch lover’s paradise. Thursday nights are definitely the busiest night of the week at Duplex but there’s no bad night to swing by and grab a bite. Pop in every Friday at 8pm when RuPaul’s Drag Race is in season.

Any faves we missed? Let us know in comments… 

Get GayCities Weekly Newsletter

Subscribe to GayCities for the latest travel & events


  • Anonymous

    You forgot House of Pies
    a.k.a. “The House of Guys” in Houston, Texas

  • Anonymous

    I also forgot about “The House of Guys” in Houston, Texas. Thanks for the reminder. Good times!

  • Anonymous

    Your mileage at Orphan Andy’s will vary if you are transgender. I’ve had great service there; I’ve sat for twenty five minutes without being waiting on while I’m literally the only customer in the restaurant.

  • Anonymous

    Don’t miss Annie’s Paramount Steak House, an institution in DC! 1609 17th St NW, Washington, DC. Good drinks, great food, fun atmosphere! All ages, a fun crowd and you leave happy!

  • Anonymous

    Although Dallas has lost Lucas B & B, The Bronx, The Bell Pepper, the Dutch Kitchen, and the Toddle House, we still have Lucky’s–at least until the next real estate developer decides that Oak Lawn does not have enough high-rise buildings.

  • Anonymous

    You forgot the rest of the world. America-centric as always.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for including Melrose Place in Chicago. Love, love, love that place!

  • Anonymous

    If still open, “The French Market” in West Hollywood would have been on the list!

  • Anonymous

    Politicians and pages make up about 1/10th of 1% of the DC area population and probably less than 1/10th of 1% of the crowd at Duplex. Yes, Duplex is a great place, but can you please avoid dumb cliches about who actually lives in DC?

  • Anonymous


  • Anonymous

    “Nookies” in Chicago should have an honorable mention.

  • Anonymous

    The Grubstake SF

  • Anonymous

    You are missing an outstanding contender for this list: The Boom in Oklahoma City. The Sunday Drag Gospel Brunch should be on any visitor’s agenda.

  • Anonymous

    Hamburger Mary’s in Vancouver, Canada (not connected to the U.S. chain of the same name). They have organic beef burgers, bison burgers, and in the fall, pumpkin pie.

  • Lelio Vieira Carneiro Junior

    No matter if some one searches for his required thing, thus he/she wants to be available that
    in detail, so that thing is maintained over here.

  • Lelio Vieira Carneiro Junior

    Genuinely no matter if someone doesn’t know afterward its up to other
    visitors that they will assist, so here it happens.

  • Lelio Vieira Carneiro Junior

    Wow, this piece of writing is nice, my sister is analyzing such things, so I am going to let know

  • podcast directories

    I couldn’t resist commenting. Very well written!

  • Jude

    What’s Taking place i am new to this, I stumbled upon this I’ve found It absolutely useful and
    it has aided me out loads. I hope to contribute & aid other customers like its aided me.
    Good job.

  • imgur.com

    Post writing is also a fun, if you be familiar with afterward you can write if not it is complex to

  • Harriet

    Hello! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but after
    browsing through some of the post I realized it’s new to me.

    Nonetheless, I’m definitely glad I found it and I’ll be bookmarking and checking back frequently!

  • chief executive officer role

    You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this
    matter to be actually something that I think I would never understand.
    It seems too complex and extremely broad for me.
    I’m looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!

  • Silvia Odete Morani Massad

    Hi! I’m at work browsing your blog from my new iphone!
    Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look forward to
    all your posts! Keep up the fantastic work!

  • Lynette

    Wow! At last I got a blog from where I be able to in fact take helpful information concerning my study and knowledge.

  • bbs.dongku.org

    You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be really something
    that I think I would never understand. It seems too complicated and very broad
    for me. I’m looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!

  • ashok leyland chief

    Pretty! This has been a really wonderful post. Thanks for providing this information.

  • apple chief

    My partner and I stumbled over here coming from a different page and thought
    I might as well check things out. I like what I see so i
    am just following you. Look forward to going over your web page repeatedly.

  • Hannah

    Remarkable issues here. I’m very satisfied to look your article.
    Thank you so much and I am taking a look ahead to touch you.
    Will you please drop me a e-mail?

  • chief operating officer job description

    Thank you for any other informative blog. Where else may I get that type of
    info written in such an ideal way? I’ve a venture that I’m simply
    now operating on, and I’ve been on the look out for such information.

  • route travel tips

    This design is spectacular! You definitely know how to keep a reader amused.
    Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!)
    Great job. I really loved what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented
    it. Too cool!

  • repeat advertising podcast

    It’s an amazing paragraph in favor of all the online visitors;
    they will obtain advantage from it I am sure.

  • Silvia Odete Morani Massad

    It’s going to be ending of mine day, but before end I am reading
    this great article to improve my know-how.

  • jeep computer

    It’s amazing to pay a quick visit this web page
    and reading the views of all colleagues on the topic of this post, while
    I am also zealous of getting knowledge.

  • Cornelius

    If you want to obtain a great deal from this paragraph then you have
    to apply these methods to your won webpage.

  • suplemen untuk anak yang susah makan

    I am actually pleased to read this webpage posts which contains plenty
    of helpful facts, thanks for providing such information.

  • James Frazer Mann

    Heya just wanted to give you a brief heads up and let you know a few
    of the images aren’t loading properly. I’m not sure why
    but I think its a linking issue. I’ve tried it in two different browsers and both show the same outcome.

  • auto key programmer

    Paragraph writing is also a excitement, if you be acquainted with then you
    can write or else it is difficult to write.

  • Nila

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts about blood pressure factorstm.

  • augusto de arruda botelho

    Tremendous things here. I’m very glad to peer your article.
    Thank you so much and I am looking ahead
    to contact you. Will you kindly drop me a mail?

  • Silvia Odete Morani Massad

    Simply want to say your article is as astonishing.

    The clearness in your post is just cool and i
    could assume you’re an expert on this subject. Fine with your permission let me to grab your feed to keep up to date with
    forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please carry on the enjoyable

  • augusto de arruda botelho

    Hmm is anyone else experiencing problems with the pictures
    on this blog loading? I’m trying to find out if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog.
    Any feed-back would be greatly appreciated.

  • Lesley

    Thanks for sharing your info. I truly appreciate your efforts
    and I am waiting for your next write ups thank you
    once again.

  • cepat hamil dengan cara tepat

    Hey There. I discovered your blog using msn. That is an extremely
    well written article. I will be sure to bookmark it and come back
    to learn extra of your useful info. Thanks for the post. I’ll definitely comeback.

  • Lelio Vieira Carneiro Junior

    I’m no longer sure the place you’re getting your information, however great topic.
    I needs to spend a while learning more or working out more.
    Thank you for wonderful information I used to be in search of this information for my mission.

  • Leona

    When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox
    and now each time a comment is added I get several e-mails with the same
    comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that service?