The 10 Best Diners in Iowa!

Whether it’s the friendly service, welcoming ambiance or good-for-the-soul entree options, eating at a diner is always a memorable experience. The more local the better, and if you happen to be in the state of Iowa, there are a ton of local diners to choose from. From the best hash browns around in Des Moines to the globs of ice cream and plate-size tenderloins in Prairie City, you’ll find something worth sitting down for at any one of these 10 best diners in Iowa! 

Waveland Cafe, Des Moines, IA

For some of the best hash browns in the galaxy, the Waveland Cafe of Des Moines serves them up hot daily. The Waveland Cafe has a long-standing reputation in the Metro as one of the best diners around, and it’s not just from the plate-size hash brown servings. The Waveland hooks it up with all the classic breakfast fares throughout until 2 p.m. every day, with everything served alongside the comfortable seating selection and constant coffee aroma that floats through the air. 

Bluebird Diner, Iowa City, IA

It’s no surprise to see a line of people out the door waiting for a seat at the Bluebird Diner every weekend in Iowa City, and it’s not just the big windows and classic diner ambiance that draws a crowd. It’s all the tantalizing menu twist on classic breakfast fares that makes Bluebird Diner a popular place to grab a bite. While Bluebird serves up every meal of the day, the real treat can be found on their breakfast menu.

Grove Cafe, Ames, IA

Every college campus must have a go-to diner, and for Iowa State University, it’s the Grove Cafe located in the heart of downtown Ames. Featuring a full menu of breakfast, lunch and dinner entrees, plus daily and weekend specials, the Grove can satisfy most any appetite that walks through the door. For an extra great breakfast at this locally owned diner, either the plate-size pancakes or specialty omelet creations really lend towards a great meal.  

Gravy’s Diner, Cedar Falls, IA

Serving up breakfast and burgers since 2008, Gravy’s Diner of Cedar Falls provides a retro feel alongside high-quality meals. The chicken-fried steak is always a popular way to go at Gravy’s Diner, as well as their large selection of pancake and waffle flavors. For lunch, the BLT and soup du jour will always treat you right. There are a lot of great burger and tenderloin options to choose from at Gravy’s, and they all pair excellently with the house-made root beer floats.   

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Newton’s Paradise Cafe, Waterloo, IA

Take a little step into culinary paradise in Waterloo thanks to Newton’s Paradise Cafe. Serving up all the cafe and diner classic fare, with a few unique twists, great food can be found at Paradise Cafe alongside a warm and welcoming atmosphere. What really makes every bite of food at Newton’s Paradise Cafe so good is the strict adherence to fresh, local and high-quality ingredients in the kitchen.

Canteen Lunch in the Alley, Ottumwa, IA

Stretching back to 1927, Canteen Lunch in the Alley has been providing the perfect midday meal for almost a century now. This classic American diner restaurant still serves to this day a limited menu full of big flavor. A classic order for any visit to Canteen Lunch in the Alley is the loose-meat sandwich served with ketchup, mustard, pickle and onion known as the Canteen. Top it all off with a root beer float at Canteen Lunch in the Alley, and you’ll see for yourself why this diner has remained open for nearly 100 years. 

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Drake Diner, Des Moines, IA

A Des Moines diner institution, if the Drake Diner can’t satisfy your appetite, then there might not be any hope for you. Featuring a long list of classic American entrees, it’s hard to say between the breakfast, lunch and dinner selection what tends to draw the biggest crowd. What’s easy to say is that no matter the time of day, it’s no work to find something to love at the classic Drake Diner of Des Moines. 

Hamburg Inn No. 2, Iowa City, IA

The Hamburg Inn No. 2 is the quintessential definition of a college diner. Featuring a full menu of amazing breakfast items including all-American entrees, the Burg also serves it up right for lunch and dinner with a deep selection of burgers, steaks and salads. Also serving as an important cultural outlet of Iowa, you can expect senators, congress people and even presidential nominees stopping into the Hamburg come election season. 

Horizon Family Restaurant, Sioux City, IA

Family owned and operated since 1986, Horizon Family Restaurant of Sioux City is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and serves up the food fresh and hot the entire time. Horizon is a welcomed part of the community, as expressed by the friendly environment found inside. Whether you are looking for a late-night/early-morning breakfast, or a burger to top off your day, you’ll find it at Horizon Family Restaurant in Sioux City. 

Goldie’s Ice Cream Shoppe, Prairie City, IA

Not only can you find a generous scoop of great ice cream at Goldie’s Ice Cream Shoppe in Prairie City, but from either the ice cream bar or booths, you can also find some great diner entrees to preface your ice cream selection. Home to one of the best pork tenderloins in the state of Iowa, you can also find fresh hamburgers, fries and seasonal soups and chilis. Although the ice cream is a great route to go at Goldie’s, be sure to indulge in the many other diner fares found at this community staple in Prairie City. 

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