Diner time warp

Appreciate American culture and cuisine with these eating establishments.
Royals offers a throwback experience with a modern twist. Courtesy Royals

Diners tend to be small establishments with minimal seating options, making this year’s indoor dining restrictions even more challenging for these places. Show your support to these fun throwbacks to a previous era and keep them in business for future generations to enjoy.

The Choo Choo Grill

The Choo Choo Grill was bought in 1946, turned into a restaurant in 1957, and this year, The Choo Choo will have been run by the same family for 64 years. A legendary Creston staple and a hidden gem in Grand Rapids located next to the railroad tracks, the interior is filled with fascinating railroad and train memorabilia. The menu is simple and classic, offering diner favorites such as big cheeseburgers, onion rings, French fries and malts. The Big Red Caboose Burger and Chocolate Peanut Butter Malt are a must-try around here. 1209 Plainfield Ave. NE


Royals is a recently opened neighborhood diner in town that provides a charming, cozy, timeless and welcoming experience. Royals diner has a mission to bring communities together with great conversation and memorable meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Royals has a friendly waitstaff and it offers an indoor/outdoor concept during the summer months and heated igloos during the winter. The breakfast here is known to be a local favorite and is a great option to bring the family. 701 Wealthy St. SE

Fat Boy Burgers

Fat Boy Burgers has been a north-end staple since 1952 and is a true local landmark. This diner is full of old-school charm and the burgers, onion rings and fried pickles are local favorites. The staff is accommodating and friendly. If you intend to visit, the Fat Boy Bacon and Blue Burger is a must-try. It is prepared on a flat-top grill and is known for its crust being the hallmark of burgers. 2450 Plainfield Ave. NE

WestSider Café

As you walk into WestSider Café, the air is redolent with the aroma of fresh-baked bread, sweet cinnamon and joy. The WestSider embodies the West Side of Grand Rapids in a breakfast place that is diverse, blue-collar and unapologetically unchanged. Its menu features Polish, American and Cuban food all done to perfection. The WestSider lives up to its name as one of the staple breakfast joints in Grand Rapids that offers a traditional brunch. 1180 Walker Ave. NW

Peppermill Grill

Savor an old-fashioned classic American breakfast at the Peppermill Grill where the pancakes are larger than the plate and the Belgian waffles and French toast are always a hit. Known for its huge portions and reasonable prices, this breakfast and lunch spot is a must. 4511 Lake Michigan Drive NW in Standale

This story can be found in the May 2021 issue of Grand Rapids Magazine. To get more stories like this delivered to your mailbox each month, subscribe here

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