By Tara Nurin
We know, we know. Diners aren’t necessarily the classy dining fare to which you may be accustomed. But face it, desperate times call for desperate measures, and a girl’s got to eat. So brighten up, buttercup. Philly’s diners and greasy spoons have loads o’ character and in many cases, pretty decent food.

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Aramingo Diner

3356 Aramingo Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19134
(215) 291-2903
Hours: Mon to Sun 6am-5:30am
Website & Reviews

Kensington may not be known for its urban refinement, but it is known city-wide for the Aramingo Diner. With its never-ending menu and 24/7 hour sched, this neighborhood landmark has a cure for everything: a hangover, a breakup or the munchies. Portions are big and prices for many items are small, and the Daily News has more than once voted its cheesecake the best in Philadelphia.

Photo Credit: Oregon Diner

Oregon Diner

302 Oregon Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19148
(215) 462-5566
Hours: Daily, 24 hours a day
Website & Reviews

Another one of the city’s iconic diners is South Philly’s Oregon Diner, which has been owned and operated by the same family for almost 20 years. Soups, monthly specials and desserts are prepared fresh and on-site, and the owners take a lot of pride in using fresh ingredients. The cocktail list is nearly as long as the food menu, and it’s all served around the clock by career waitresses so true to type they seem to have stepped directly out of Central Casting.

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Little Pete’s

219 South 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 545-5508
Website & Reviews

Philadelphia’s bartenders and recreational drunks know there’s nowhere better in Center City to go for cheap late-night food not served over the counter or from a pizza oven than Little Pete’s. The size of the menu is astonishing for such a divey joint (and we mean that in a good way): 16 varieties of omelets and several dozen hoagies, double deckers and plain old sandwiches … even seafood, pasta and sirloin make a few appearances. But lest you forget your surroundings, the menu reminds you by listing separate nighttime prices that are 50 cents to a dollar more than their daytime counterparts, which we believe might be a surcharge for putting up with your drunk derriere.

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Sulimary’s Restaurant

632 East Girard Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19125
(215) 423-1773
Hours: Wed to Fri 8:30am-2pm; Sat to Sun 8am-3pm
Website & Reviews

An internet description of this breakfast and lunch spot succinctly sums up its charm in a way that conveys it ever-so-clearly to Philly natives: “Complimentary Fishtown attitude with every purchase.” Translation for newbies: “If you have to ask, go somewhere else.” If that still doesn’t explain it, suffice it to say that the only reason anyone’s heard of this cash-only rowhouse diner outside of Fishtown is that a local news media guru and hipster legend shoots his YouTube-sensation show in its booths. He chose the location because it provides the perfectly moody 1950’s luncheonette set for a group of three hand-picked, grumpy old white men to sit over cups of decaf and pontificate on the finer points of rap and hip-hop music. He calls it “Breakfast at Sulimay’s” and it’s made Sulimay’s famous as far away as England.

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Sam’s Morning Glory Diner

735 South 10th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(215) 413-3999
Hours: Mon to Fri 7am-4pm; Sat to Sun 8am-3pm

And now for something completely–well, sort of–different. Sam’s is a breakfast- and lunch-only place too, but you probably won’t find any audiopheliac curmudgeons here. Rather, Sam’s sets itself up as being a sunny, modern, politically correct take on the old luncheonette standard. There’s homemade jam. Locally-sourced ingredients. Breakfast sandwiches served on foccacia. Tofu scramblers with curry seasoning. Yogurt labeled with the name of its farm of origin. The only aspect that harkens back to any pre-2011 days here is the low pricing of the dishes.

Tara Nurin is a freelance writer and producer based in Philadelphia and Camden, NJ. She specializes in coverage of craft beer, nightlife, restaurants, sustainable food and local destinations.