Eat & Drink

Take A Shake And Fries Tour Of California At These Classic Diners

Brought to you by Visit California

With top tips and ideas for your next California road trip.

Eating at a classic American diner is basically a rite of passage on any Stateside road trip. You can’t go home before you can say you’ve sat in a booth and tucked into a huge, home-style meal.

California is the perfect place to indulge in the classic “pit-stop” diner experience. Whether you’re tackling Route 66 or cruising down the Pacific Coast Highway, here’s our pick of the best diners to stop in at for your burger or milkshake fix.

#1 Richie’s Real American Diner

Where: 8039 Monet Ave, Rancho Cucamonga, California

 

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At around 3940km long (it starts in Chicago and ends in Santa Monica), you’re definitely going to be making a few stops on a Route 66 road trip. While you’re adding California’s original McDonald’s museum and Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch to your list of must-sees, pop Richie’s Diner on there, too.

Hailed as one of the best all-American diners, you know a feed at Richie’s in Rancho Cucamoga is going to hit the spot. Just like all diners, the burgers and shakes here are off-the-chart (get into the cappuccino double mocha shake with ice cream, Hershey’s chocolate syrup, coffee, and cream), but Richie’s steak menu is a stand out, too.

Why not treat yourself to a premium wood-smoked porterhouse steak (US$26.95) after a long day of driving? If the lure of the burger menu is too much, then the avocado-slathered California burger (US$11.55) is a must-try.


#2 Peggy Sue’s ‘50s Diner

Where: 35654 Yermo Road, Yermo, California

 

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Along Route 15, half-way between Las Vegas and Los Angeles, you will find Peggy Sue’s ‘50s Diner. We say “find” loosely – it isn’t hard to spot the diner thanks to its candy-coloured, jukebox-shaped frontage.

Stepping inside the pink roadside diner feels like you’re stepping back in time. Originally built in 1954, pink-hued Peggy Sue’s has been lovingly restored to its original glory. The décor feels part candy shop, part ‘50s milk bar, and there’s a tonne of TV and movie memorabilia on the walls. Keeping with the ‘50s theme, the diner soundtrack is all from the era and the menu is courtesy of grandma and her family recipes.

Slow your journey into Los Angeles down and make a pit stop at Peggy Sue’s for some deep-fried dill pickles (US$4.79) and an open-face, chili-covered La Bamba burger (US$8.29).


#3 Foxy’s

Where: 206 W Colorado St, Glendale, California

 

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A giant cream-topped shake ($US4) from Foxy’s is a well-deserved post-Griffith Park and Hollywood sign hike treat. Just down the road from the hiking trails in downtown Hollywood, this unique, pyramid-shaped diner has been around since ’64.

Inside, don’t expect your cutesy milk-bar look, though, because Foxy’s is all about that classic Aspen ski-lodge feel. There’s dark wood paneling galore, plenty of beloved booth seats, and a menu full of good old-fashioned American diner grub.

All the diner favourites are there – burgers, chili cheese fries, and Philly cheese steaks. But this is Hollywood, so you’ll find a small wellness menu and a vegan menu, too. Balance out your indulgent post-hike milkshake with a fluffy egg white “power” omelette and fresh fruit (US$12) breakfast, or go all out with some decadent chocolate pancakes (US$9).


#4 The Red Kettle

Where: 54220 N Circle Dr, Idyllwild, California

 

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Road tripping out Coachella and Palm Desert way? Take a slight, one-hour detour from the desert into the small town of Idyllwild, with its log cabin and pine tree-lined streets.

If there’s one stop you should make in Idyllwild (after gift shops of course), it’s The Red Kettle. Right in the heart of this mountain town, the quaint diner has been through a few different hands since it opened as an ice-cream and candy store in 1920, but it certainly hasn’t lost that old-school charm. There are funny signs and photos of old Idyllwild lining the walls, and a menu with all the usual diner suspects.

If you’re there for breakfast, you can’t go past the four-egg junkyard omelette with shredded steak, peppers and mushroom (US$12.95). Lunch time visitors can tuck into one of the famed Red Kettle Cheeseburgers with a side of fries (US$10.95). Should you be looking for something different, opt for the side of jelly instead!


#5 Woody’s Diner

Where: 16371 Pacific Coast Hwy, Sunset Beach, California

 

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Burgers at Woody’s Diner in Sunset Beach come with a generous side of fries and puppy pats. The greater Huntington Beach area is one of the most dog-friendly areas in California, and Woody’s welcomes furry friends with open arms. Best. Pit stop. Ever.

Located right near Huntington Beach – AKA Surf City, USA – the décor in Woody’s nods to that classic California surf lifestyle. There are boards and vintage surf posters from the ‘50s on the walls and tabletop jukeboxes for good measure.

Like all good diners, the burgers at Woody’s are a highlight. Get stuck into the Big Cruiser for some double-patty, double-cheese, pickle-y goodness, or put on your fancy pants and savour the flavours of the blue cheese cheeseburger.

If a stop in Sunset Beach doesn’t fit with the travel plans, you can still get your Woody’s fix at one of their outlets in Newport Beach, Laguna Hills or Orange.

(Lead image: Dani King / Unsplash)

Start planning your dream 2019 California road trip today.