Guide

Vintage Lunch Spots of the Mid-Atlantic

It seems that nearly every town and city in America has at least one retro restaurant it can call home—places where generations have grown up enjoying their favorite meals, from classic hamburgers, hot dogs, and milkshakes to local delicacies. (The corn fritters from Hinkle's Pharmacy in Columbia, Pennsylvania, are this author's personal favorite.) And sometimes, it's best to get out and explore the delicious side of these historic places. Our guide to some of the coolest vintage restaurants, diners, and ice cream shops in the Mid-Atlantic from Retro Roadmap's Mod Betty will set you up for a tasty treat during your next road trip.

  1. Photo By: Retro Roadmap/Beth Lennon

    Holsten's (Bloomfield, New Jersey)

    More than just an ice cream fountain, Holsten’s has been serving up lunch—or luncheon, according to the vintage neon sign in the window—since 1939. There's even a candy counter, in case you want to take some sweets home after your meal.

  2. Photo By: Flickr/Jazz Guy CC BY 2.0

    Donohue's Steak House (New York City)

    Donohue’s, once one of many neighborhood cocktail and comfort food joints lining the sidewalks of New York, has outlived its neighbors—much to the benefit of patrons wanting a classic cocktail and a hearty meal.

  3. Photo By: Beth Lennon, Retro Roadmap

    Eisenberg's Sandwich Shop (New York City)

    In a city where skyscrapers seem to rise and fall every day, this classic lunch counter has escaped the developer’s hand and continues to serve up homestyle meals as it has since 1929.

  4. Photo By: Flickr/like, totally

    Sine's 5&10 Cent Store (Quakertown, Pennsylvania)

    In the heart of Quakertown—just an hour north of Philadelphia—the cheery red exterior of Sine’s 5&10 Cent Store has been the gem in the crown of the downtown district for over 100 years.

  5. Photo By: Retro Roadmap/Beth Lennon

    The Red Rabbit Drive-In (Duncannon, Pennsylvania)

    Open seasonally since 1964, The Red Rabbit is a weekends-only road trip lunch stop for those driving alongside the Susquehanna River. This carhop is the home of the "Bunny Burger," with its seeded bun and special sauce.

  6. Photo By: Beth Lennon, Retro Roadmap

    Hinkle's Pharmacy (Columbia, Pennsylvania)

    Folks smart enough to get off of the four-lane Route 30 highway and onto the Lincoln Highway will discover a vibrant corner of the historic downtown at Hinkle’s Pharmacy and Restaurant, serving as the heart of the community for 120 years.

  7. Photo By: Retro Roadmap/Beth Lennon

    G&A Restaurant (Baltimore)

    The G&A has been open in the same location in Baltimore since 1927, and it's still family owned and operated. The only place in Baltimore to get a Coney Dog (hot dog in a bun, covered in meat-based chili sauce), the G&A cooks them up right on the same grill that has been in the front window for decades.

  8. Photo By: Beth Lennon, Retro Roadmap

    Chick & Ruth's Delly (Annapolis, Maryland)

    More than a deli, Chick & Ruth's Delly is a neighborhood breakfast/lunch/dinner/late-night destination for the hungry. Opened in 1965 by Chick Levitt and his wife Ruth, the restaurant quickly became popular with locals as well as visitors.

  9. Photo By: Retro Roadmap/Beth Lennon

    Doyles' Restaurant and Diner (Selbyville, Delaware)

    Located just half a mile north of the Maryland border, Doyles’ is recognized by the state of Delaware as the “oldest operating and best-preserved Silk City diner car in the state.” The shiny diner is covered with a pitched roof, but its interior is practically a step back in time.

  10. Photo By: Flickr/nickgraywfu

    Texas Tavern (Roanoke, Virginia)

    While some counter service restaurants hold true to the lunch counter name by serving that meal and perhaps breakfast, the Texas Tavern in Roanoke Virginia is a neon beacon for the hungry 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This sliver-sized restaurant is a local landmark, serving up its world-famous chili and classic short-order fare since 1930.

From coast to coast, fascinating historic places are waiting for you to visit and explore.

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