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Looking for diners in Houston for Friday night. . .

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I hope this post isn't too redundent as I have seen many posts regarding good food in Houston, however, I haven't been able to find exactly what I'm looking for in my search.
I'm looking for a diner or casual place that serves traditional American fare (though I'm willing to branch out if it sounds really good). I'm a big spice whimp so not really into to Tex-Mex, Thai, or Indian.
I saw Sam's Diner mentioned as well as Heaven in Pie (not sure I got that quite right but 'heaven' and 'pie' were in there somewhere). Any opinions, recs, etc would be appreciated. We're not super picky. Thanks!
Also I would appreciate any thoughts on Galveston as we will be going there on Saturday.

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    1. Not sure where you're from but it's been my experience that west of the Mississippi, what y'all call 'diners' back east are called 'family restaurants.'

      The Family Cafe in Houston isn't a traditional diner, but it's got great home-cooked food.


      9 Replies
      1. re: Jaymes

        To be truthful, I don't think I've been to a real east coast diner as I've spent most of my life west of the Mississippi (I live in Austin). But I use the term diner as it brings to mind the ambiance that I'm looking for, namely traditional food like your mama used to make in a causal atmosphere at a low price.
        But I'm perfectly happy with family restraurant recs! Thank you both and I will check up on both places.

        1. re: skaw

          The traditional "railroad diner car" atmosphere that you find back east, and even as far west as, say, St. Louis, isn't very common farther west or south. But the menus are similar to restaurants out west and south that say they feature "home cooking," "soul food," "meat & three," etc. You do need to allow for regional specialties such as the clam chowders available at diners in the northeast, but other than that, there's not much difference. They offer good hearty breakfasts, "blue plate" type lunches and that sort of thing.

          1. re: Jaymes

            Yes the menus are pretty similiar. I think though to be a diner (at least in my mind), there are certain main staples to be had making the diner a more specific term. If I go to a diner, I would expect hamburgers, pie, milkshakes, traditional breakfast, etc all cooked on a large griddle. Also important is how late a place is open. Diners should be open 24/7 or at least late. If it meets all the criteria, I will call it diner be it in a rail car or not.
            Now I realizes this is all subjective and as a defination exists soley in the realms of my own mind, but that is what a diner is to me.

            1. re: skaw

              What you describe is a Waffle House! There is one in Galveston. I know there are some in Houston, but not sure exactly where.

              1. re: danhole

                True - Waffle House does indeed meet all those criteria. And I will admit to enjoying Waffle House - only for breakfast though.

                1. re: skaw

                  We just don't have a Waffle House close by, but whenever we stay in galveston that is where we eat breakfast. I don't know if all locations are like that one, but they are so friendly, good food and fast service. I have always been intrigued by the dinner offerings, but never go there in the evening. I should, though, because the melt sandwiches look really good and what is more diner-ish than a patty melt?

                  1. re: danhole

                    I travel a lot - road trips by myself - and when I've stopped in a strange town and just want to grab a quick meal and scoot on through, I do go to Waffle House if I've spotted one nearby.

                    I agree with all of this. The only negative is that a great many of their locations allow smoking. As the buildings are small - i.e., 'diner style' - you can't get away from it. So if there are folks smoking inside, I find something else.

                    But the food is usually quite good. Nothing fancy. Menu similar to Denny's and IHOP, but I think the food is better. And I do love those waffles.

                2. re: danhole

                  Interesting. I, too, thought immediately of Waffle House. It even has that diner 'feel,' with the long counter and everything. But as it's a chain, didn't know whether or not it was worthy of mention to a CH'er.

                  1. re: Jaymes

                    I won't tell if you won't :P

        2. House of Pies could be considered a diner - in a loose sense, but all american fare and breakfast served all the time.

            1. re: Lily Dale

              Only problem with Harry's is that they are only open during the day, so if you want dinner this is not the place.

              1. re: danhole

                Yes, I saw that on their website, only open until 2:30 PM. Still might be worth a stop for lunch. Is it good enough to go out of the way a little for?

            2. I forgot about Triple A Restaurant on Airline, right by Canino's Farmer's Market. Now that is a diner! Meat and a couple vegetables, usually with a salad ( which, IMO, is passable) and supposedly the best CFS in town (I had fried chicken livers). And they are open in the evenings. They have some pretty good fried chicken but you really need to call ahead, because it takes 20 min. to prepare. But Barbeque Inn also has a 20 min. wait, but you just sit there and eat crackers while you wait ;-)

              3 Replies
              1. re: danhole

                BBQ Inn would be my pick. Triple A isn't terrible, but it's not great either.

                Skaw, it appears you're from Austin. Are you looking for something in the Hoover's/Threadgills/Tony's Southern vain?

                1. re: Bulldozer

                  I agree Bulldozer - BBQ Inn is my favorite, but Triple A has more of a "diner" feel. And a larger menu. Some food blogger in town proclaimed the CFS at Triple A even better than BBQ Inn. I need to try that.

                  1. re: danhole

                    I'm actually not a fan of the CFS at BBQ Inn either. The shrimp and f chicken are awesome though.

              2. Two more places you could consider would be Dot Coffee Shop on the Gulf Freeway at 610, a real, 24-7 diner (in a former Kip's Big Boy) with a huge menu and Kelley's Country Cooking, near the exit for Hobby Airport on 45, also with a huge menu and huge portions but not open 24-7. Kelley's would be comparable to Hill's in Austin or Massey's in Fort Worth but with Houston kitsch decor instead of Austin; it's like a time trip back to the 1970s and 80s in Houston. Another one like Hill's would be T-Bone Tom's in Seabrook but that's way out of town.

                Another one might be Mama's Cafe on Westheimer. It's out of San Antonio; I've never been so I can't speak from experience.

                1 Reply
                1. re: dexmat

                  Mama's Cafe is similar to 59 Diner/Avalon, and I'd say they're the best option if you had to choose between the three. I haven't been to a 59 Diner in years, it's always an excruciatingly painful experience.

                  All in all, I agree that Waffle House is a closer match for what the OP is looking for. Also I vaguely recall Dani mentioning there is a place in Galveston (literally) called "The Diner", so you may want to look into that.

                2. So much good advice! It will be hard to chose.

                  1. I'd suggest going to Kenny and Ziggy's... You'll get lost in the menu which is huge (like the portions).. I'm from NJ (the diner capital of the world maybe) so tho K&Z's is classified "deli" they're all over the board,, and the place has a "diner" feel without the long counter and spin stools...
                    You might also consider Barnaby's on West Gray or Shepherd.. Everything from meatloaf to lasagna,, sandwiches, terrific deserts too.. Enjoy! Jack

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: bornie


                      Did you see them (K&Z) on Guy's DD&D show? It was on very recently. It seemed like most of the folks interviewed were from up north. The corned beef sandwich was enormous! And they showed how they corn the beef - quite a timely process. But they are pretty expensive in my opinion. Still that corned beef looked like it would be worth it. The sandwich has 10 oz. of corned beef.

                      1. re: danhole

                        I missed it Dani! Though the prices of the sandwiches at K&Z's fall in the $9-13 range,, they are enough for two adults. The pastrami sandwiches here are pretty darn tasty too,, and lean....

                        1. re: bornie

                          Don't worry Jack - it will be on again and again and again! Just look at the foodnetwork site under DD&D, and it will tell you when it is going to be on again. Niko's will be on there on Mon. I love greek food!

                          I figured that the sandwiches were enough for two people. They are just a few bucks cheaper than buying the meat by the pound, but I think with as much meat as they put on there it works out in the end. Plus, I would rather have the bread they serve than go to Kroger's and try and find some decent rye.

                          1. re: danhole

                            I agree with a few other mentionings:

                            Avalon Diner on Westheimer in Montrose
                            House of Pies on Kirby
                            Barnaby's Cafe (and Baby Barnaby's) in Montrose
                            Bibas -Ones a Meal on Westheimer in Montrose