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7 Retro Diners in Colorado That Take You Back in Time

Runaway Retro Diner in Colorado
Photo: RunAwayB via Yelp

An enduring symbol of American culture, the diner represents something familiar and homey. Simple and affordable food (and, let’s be honest, usually awful coffee), they date back to the start of the 20th Century and were popular during the Great Depression with other resurgences coming after the end of World War II and again during the 1970s. Immortalized in the arts with paintings like Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks” and Norman Rockwell’s “The Runaway” putting them center stage, they have also played supporting roles in numerous movies and TV shows, notably “Twin Peaks,” “Seinfeld,” and “Pulp Fiction.”

Here are several places west of 105 you can get a slice of Americana, both literally and figuratively.

Photo: Ralph B via Yelp

Eagle Diner | Eagle

Just over 20 years old, the Eagle diner does what diners do, and that’s to offer a big menu of diner classics - pancakes, burgers, omelettes, sandwiches as well as milkshakes and malts. And the diner seems to attract all kinds of people with Shaq and Martha Stewart stopping by in the past. Eagle Diner also offers wine - according to the menu a Chardonnay and a Merlot - if you’re a drink-wine-at-a-diner kind of person!

Photo: Khaled A via Yelp

The Little Diner | Vail

Located in Vail’s Lionshead Village, The Little Diner is a popular option for breakfast and lunch in Vail. Serving breakfast all day, the bustling diner also has most of the diner classics the other places on our list have. They also have croissant, biscuit and bagel sandwiches, which are less common at other diners. Expect a wait during ski season (but who knows this year).

19th Street Diner | Glenwood Springs

Opened back in 1986 by Swannie and KG Schwanebeck before being taken over by former staff members Rick and Tonya Wernsmann in 2007, the 19th Street Diner was a ht when it opened and remains so. Slinging classic diner food as well as a few more unique items, such as deep-fried French toast, today, you’ll find patrons enjoying pretty much the same menu as when it opened with a few additions. Stop in on Wednesday for Marvelous Meatloaf!

Oscar's Cafe | Durango

A staple in town for almost 40 years, Oscar’s is still regularly a hive of activity where people come together for a chat and a hearty breakfast (including no fewer than nine types of omelet) or lunch (Black Angus burgers, salads, chilies, as well as Ruben’s and the diner classic - the club sandwich). The shakes at Oscar’s were apparently voted best in town, too. With red and black floor tiles and neon lighting that lights the way for the model train (a nod to the area’s railroading heritage) that runs around the ceiling, Oscar’s is not easily forgettable!

Photo: Peter S via Yelp

Johnny B Good's | Steamboat Springs

Located in the heart of downtown Steamboat Springs, Johnny B. Good’s has a very distinctive 50’s style with murals of movie stars like Humphrey Bogart and Marilyn Monroe on the walls. Serving up classic diner fare - chicken fried steaks, biscuits and gravy, corned beef hash, Reubens, and gyros as well as huevos rancheros, burritos etc., Johnny B good’s also has a good range of cocktails and adult milkshakes as well as classic desserts, pies and banana splits.

Photo: Runaway B via Yelp

Main Street Cafe | Grand Junction

A GJ staple for over 30 years, Main Street Cafe originally opened as the 7th Street Cafe with 40 seats. Being on the “wrong side” of the tracks (access was restricted by coal trains for almost an hour every day in those days) didn’t stop word spreading and business grew. Fast forward to January 2000 and the business moved to Main Street. Stop in to this Retro Diner on the Westslope of Colorado for steaks, burgers, soups, salads and the like.

Photo: Rita B via Yelp

Denny's | Cortez

Something of an anomaly on our list as it is part of a national chain, this Denny’s gets an honorable mention because it is so damn cool thanks to its Airstream-like exterior. Inside, it is somewhat retro with the menu being the same as every other Denny’s, which means you can get the Denny’s classic moons over my hammy.


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