The lunch counter is an American institution. It’s a spot where customers can linger or eat in a hurry, where singles can dine in solitude, and where new friendships are forged among more sociable guests. Here are five of the best places to indulge in comfort food and a retro vibe.
1. Howley’s: At this circa-1950 West Palm Beach institution, the terrazzo floors and tin ceilings transport you to a different era. The menu is infused with organic and locally sourced ingredients, but you can still get all-day breakfast, country-fried steak, and corned beef hash.
2. Green’s Pharmacy: This Palm Beach spot is the granddaddy of local lunch counters, serving milkshakes and more at an 82-seat soda fountain since 1938. It’s also one of the few places where a displaced New Yorker can find an egg cream.
3. City Diner: This diner opened in 1982, long before West Palm’s Dixie Highway Corridor was chic. The counter serves throwback favorites such as chicken potpie, biscuits with sausage gravy, and root beer floats. While you wait, play some tunes on the authentic Wurlitzer.
4. Flashback Diner: Boca Raton’s Flashback Diner hasn’t been around as long as the two Broward County locations, but it offers the same “eclectic comfort food to feed the mind and body”—everything from liver and onions and shepherd’s pie to Greek-inspired Mediterranean specialties.
5. Ellie’s 50s Diner: This Delray Beach eatery re-creates the atmosphere of the 1950s, pairing retro live music with burgers, hot plate specials, and classics such as “Great Balls of Fire” (spaghetti and meatballs) and “Teenager in Love” (patty melt with grilled onions and cheese).