Top 5: 24 Hour Diners

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What do you do after a night of drinking and dancing? Head to one of the 24- hour diners. Even if you hooked up, it’s not a bad idea to stop for a bite to eat first. Not only will you get some needed sustenance for the activities when you get home, but you’ll also get a good look at your date in something other than bar light. If after spending a meal with your potential partner, you change your mind, you can always bow out gracefully after your meal.

Lester's Diner
250 W. State Rd 84, Fort Lauderdale, 954-525-5641
4701 Coconut Creek Pkwy., Margate, 954-979-4722
250 W. State Rd. 84, Fort Lauderdale, 954-525-5641
1399 NW.136th Ave., Sunrise, 954-838-7473
LestersDiner.com

Lester’s Diner is such an authentic 50’s style diner that you expect Richie, Potsie and the rest of the Happy Days crowd to be seated at the next table. The giant cups of coffee are great whether fighting a hangover or for a pick-me-up. The family owned and operated business has been serving South Florida for nearly 50 years. In addition to traditional breakfast fare, sandwiches and diner style entrees, Lester’s offer a full selection of pastries baked fresh daily on its premises. Breakfast dishes are all priced $10 or less, sandwich combos a buck or two more. Among my favorites is the pastrami melt. For dinner, the Greek combo with spinach pie, moussaka, pasticcio, stuffed grape leaves and soup or a small Greek salad is a delicious steal at $12.49

Floridian Restaurant
1410 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 954-463-4041

The Floridian has been a tradition among generations of Fort Lauderdale residents since 1937. The Las Olas location makes for some fun people watching from the sidewalk tables, although you’ll also have your full serving of auto fumes as well. The dining room is kitchy with pictures of celebrities everywhere and comfy office chairs surrounding some of the large tables. Service is kind of haphazard and not particularly knowledgeable about the menu. Your best bet is to stick with breakfast classics or salads. My favorite dish is the Greek salad topped with seared tuna. There are a number of options for the health conscious. The “Super Lean Breakfast” features four egg whites, grilled tuna steak or salmon, sliced tomatoes and toast for $14, while two hard-cooked egg whites with grilled turkey breast and sliced tomato on your choice of bread is $6.95

Peter Pan Diner
1216 E. Oakland Park Blvd. Oakland Park, 954-565-7177

This family owned restaurant has been dishing up big, no-nonsense breakfasts, daily chef specials, authentic Greek specialties and homemade bakery treats for more than 35 years. Daily lunch and dinner specials are great bargains. For example, either Salisbury steak or beef goulash is $7.95, while a lamb shank with orzo is just $9.95, served with a choice of soup or salad. Greek dishes are a specialty and my favorite is the chicken Santorini, a chicken breast broiled with tomatoes and feta cheese, then topped with wine sauce. The triple salad combo from the low carb section of the menu features three large scoops of excellent tuna, chicken and crab salad, with salad greens. There’s easily enough for two people. The pastries, all baked on premises are a real treat and worth the calories.

Flashback Diner
4125 SW. 64th Ave Davie, 954-321-3400
1450 N. Federal Hwy., Boca Raton, 561-750-2120
220 S. Federal Hwy., Hallandale Beach, 954-454-8300

The sandwiches are all named after celebrities, most of which won’t be familiar to younger readers, but that’s okay because the clientele is generally somewhere between 80 and death. We laughingly call this place the Hot Flashback Diner. Some of the pairings of sandwiches and celebrities make sense, such as the Ricky Ricardo Cuban sandwich and the Anthony Quinn gyro, some are a mystery (the Merv Griffin tuna salad, Mr. Rodgers BLT) and some are hysterical; the Rudolph Valentino foot long hot dog. The food is so good here that I will occasionally put up with the horrible service (we once sat 30 minutes waiting for a pair of sandwiches). I return because I am addicted to the Holy Cannoli French Toast.

Moonlite Diner
6201 N Andrews Ave. Fort Lauderdale, 954-938-1116

In addition to standard breakfast and entrée diner fare, you can get some unexpected dishes, such as blackened fish and healthy breakfast options such as the Hollywood Beach platter (an egg white omelet with spinach, mushrooms, red peppers and mozzarella cheese) and The Body Builder (egg white omelet stuffed with grilled chicken veggies and served with sliced tomatoes and multi-grain toast). On Tuesdays all milkshakes are $2, Wednesday’s special is two burgers and two shakes for $20, while on Thursdays all appetizers are half-priced. Moonlite also offers 10 percent off for seniors, military or uniformed police officers.

Runners-UP

New York Grilled Cheese
2207 Wilton Dr., Wilton Manors, 954-564-6887
NewYorkGrilledCheese.com

This is not your mother’s grilled cheese. Take the filling; in addition to melted cheese, sandwiches can include caramelized onions, pulled pork, fries, bacon brisket or buffalo chicken. The cheeses range from the stand American to blue, jack, cheddar or brie. Then it’s all toasted on a waffle iron, giving the sandwich lots of crispy crunchy pockets. Side options include waffle fries (sweet or white potato), poutine (fries topped with gravy and cheese) and fries coated in spicy buffalo sauce and blue cheese. The hot pork sundae is the epitome of comfort food. Open until 3 a.m. /4 a.m. on weekends.

Courtyard Café
2211 Wilton Dr. Wilton Manors, 954-563-2499

While open 24 hours Thursday through Sunday only, Courtyard Café rates a mention for a number of reasons. First, it’s a favorite gathering pot in WilMa, it’s stumbling distance from most of the bars and clubs and the staff is so sassy! The food runs the gamut from pretty damn good to serviceable and there’s no rhyme or reason to it. Monday nights is burger night; with a free soda or iced tea with any of the big messy burgers (BTW the burgers would be a bit less messy if they put the lettuce under the patty so that it doesn’t make the bottom bun so soggy). On 2-4 Tuesdays share an app and get two entrees for $20. Wednesdays nights are two for one entree with the purchase of a beverage.

Primanti Brothers Pizza
901 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd. Fort Lauderdale, 954-565-0605
PrimantiBros.com

The Pittsburgh based chain, which started as a food cart feeding factory workers during the Depression, has a number of South Florida locations. The Fort Lauderdale Beach location is the only one open 24 hours. The dining room is closed from 6 a.m. - 8 a.m., however take out is still available. The menu seems to be designed for drunks, lots of greasy sandwiches, burgers, a few Italian entrees and pizza by the slice. There are even a few breakfast items available. When you get a sandwich with the works, they mean it. Between your slices of Italian bread you’ll find the meat or cheese of your choice topped with fries, coleslaw and tomatoes.


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