Chefs love the no-frills nature of diners, and now they are paying homage to these humble spots by opening their own upgraded versions.

By Maren Ellingboe
Updated May 23, 2017

Chefs love the no-frills nature of diners—Chicago star Paul Kahan confesses to eating BLTs at lunch counters all over the city. And now they are paying homage to these humble spots by opening their own upgraded versions.

For Dove’s Luncheonette chef Paul Kahan drew inspiration from the classic diners of old: “The social aspect of lunch counters in Chicago had a huge impact on our desire to open a diner–our goal was to create a place without pretense, where people could sit at a counter and enjoy great soulful food at any time of the day.” The menu, however, is distinctly Mexican: one of Kahan’s favorite dishes is the pork shoulder pozole, with guajillo chili broth, hominy, avocado, lime cabbage and crispy tortillas. 1545 N. Damen Ave, Chicago.

For Jonathan Brooks, opening Milktooth in Indianapolis was about more than just a new restaurant: after his son was born, breakfast became quality time that he could spend with his wife and newborn. His new venture, serving breakfast and lunch, aims to make breakfast both exciting and comforting. A small but diverse menu features items like sweet tea fried chicken with sausage gravy, biscuits and a sunny-side up egg, of the ultra-luxurious soft scrambled eggs, served with an ingenious combo of Burgundy truffles, Osetra caviar and pork rinds. 534 Virginia Ave, Indianapolis.

James Beard-award winning chef Bradley Ogden opened Bradley’s Fine Diner with his son Bryan in late 2014 focusing on comfort food in an upscale setting. For his second location (the first is in Austin, TX,) Ogden wanted to highlight the excellent produce and seafood of the area with dishes like deviled Monterey Bay squid with frisée, fennel and meyer lemon and a smoked trout crêpe with mâche, soft boiled quail egg and beet crème fraîche. 1165 Merrill St, Menlo Park.

For Atlanta-based Top Chef contestant Ron Eyester’s newest venture, Diner, the chef wanted to give the people what they want: everything. With a massive menu ranging from seven kinds of Benedicts to steak to an update on the turkey Reuben, customers certainly won’t lack for choices. Plus, like the best diners, breakfast will be served all day. 264 19th Street NW, Atlanta,

Though the iconic Rosebud Diner was built in 1941, partners Joe Cassinelli and John Delpha have updated the restaurant with a rotating list of pies, a serious cocktail program and a southern-influenced menu (chef Delpha spent his 20’s cooking in Alabama and Georgia). Don’t miss Delpha’s award-winning barbeque, with dishes like Texas Brisket Hash with peppers, kale, potatoes and eggs, and the BBQ Baconator Meatloaf Fatty, a riff on the traditional meatloaf dish made of smoked and blended ground beef and bacon. 381 Summer St, Somerville.