The American food pyramid ought to have a division devoted specifically to diners. It’s the one place where early risers and night owls can gather together. We’re not talking brunch; we’re talking greasy spoons, endless coffee, hot cakes, bacon and grits on a plate. No corporate restaurants need apply; the locals have breakfast covered.
CENTRAL COFFEE SHOPPE 530 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, 727-821-1125, centralcoffeeshoppe.com. Downtown St. Petersburg’s own diner knows how to handle their hash and brew a good cup of coffee too. The family owned diner touts prices that are starving artist-friendly. Cash only.
COUNTRY PUMPKIN 2620 E. Hillsborough Ave., Tampa, 813-237-1818. Located next door to Tampa’s beloved Yummy House is a secret breakfast diner that makes the cheap and greasy fare you’re looking for. Described one reader, “the breakfast burger is a fat guy’s hangover dream dish.”
DAILY EATS 901 S. Howard Ave., Tampa, 813-868-3335, dailyeatstampa.com. The adored South Howard breakfast, lunch and dinner spot has a number of delicious breakfast bowls. Daily Eats is notable to regulars for the benedicts, too.
DAIRY INN 1201 Dr. Martin Luther King St. N, St. Petersburg, 727-822-6971, dairyinn.com. Dairy Inn may look like a simple ice cream shop to the passerby but their breakfast offerings are worth a second look. Breakfast offerings range from beignets to breakfast sandwiches.
DOME GRILL 561 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, 727-823-5090. After any good night out in St. Petersburg, a recap of the evening’s events is necessary with some hot breakfast from the Dome. The Dome does traditional breakfast right, plus you can dine al fresco on the patio or sidewalk.
GAYLE’S RESTAURANT 455 75th Ave., St. Pete Beach, 727-360-0256. Gayle’s is the kind of place you go when you need some meat on your bones. It’s a no-frills breakfast place that never disappoints.
KOPPER KITCHEN 5562 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, 727-345-6339, kopperkitchenfl.com. Family-owned and operated, the Kopper Kitchen makes the one of the best stacks of hotcakes in St. Petersburg. For health nuts, try the organic buckwheat cakes as well.
KRISTINA’S CAFE 3590 34th Street N, St. Petersburg, 727-526-6673. Kristina’s is one of the only remaining 24-hour diners in the area now that the St. Pete Diner has closed. Waitresses are friendly and the hash is heavenly.
MAGGIE MAE’S 1261 Gulf Blvd., Clearwater, 727-595-1096; 2961 West Bay Drive, Belleair Bluffs, 727-724-4243, maggie-maes.com. Good diner coffee is hard to find, and the coffee is extraordinarily good at Maggie Mae’s. Breakfast portions are big and the price is right.
MOM’S PLACE 4816 N. Dale Mabry, Tampa, 813-875-2670. Mom’s Place is a perfect spot to fill up early in the morning, on the way home from a night out. The greasy country fried steak in white gravy will undoubtedly cleanse you of all the evening’s sins.
MUNCH’S RESTAURANT AND SUNDRIES 3920 Sixth St. S, St. Petersburg, 727-896-5972, munchburger.com. Homemade sausages, smooth and creamy grits, perfectly cornmeal-coated fried green tomatoes. This old Florida breakfast spot is a must-eat, where the coffee is always fresh and hot. Cash only.
NICKO’S FINE FOODS 4603 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, 813-234-9301. Elvis Presley ate at Nicko’s following his performance at the Armory in 1955, and they’ve got the booth there to prove it. Grits are served on a plate, like they should be, and traditional breakfast favorites are prepared flawlessly and on the cheap.
PINKY’S DINER 3203 W. Bay to Bay Blvd., Tampa, 813-831-9339, pinkysdiner.com. Crowned Breakfast Bowl Champion in 2011 by Creative Loafing, Pinky’s is the diner to rule all diners in Tampa. The homey vibe, hot cakes, and incredible eggs benedict helped pave the way for the title. Stop by and see what all the fuss is about.
POP AND SON’S DINER 4812 N. Dale Mabry, Tampa, 813-875-9005. At Pop and Son’s, it is all about the bacon. Seriously crispy yet tender strips lay in a sweet pool of greasy love on your plate. Breakfast offerings outside of bacon are solidly delicious too.
SKYWAY JACK’S 2795 34th St. S, St. Petersburg, 727-867-1907. Located right before the iconic bridge is a breakfast diner that's delightfully old school. The menu is vast, but everything (and we mean everything) is made to order every time. Try the hobo hash, grits, or if you’re feeling adventurous, order up some pig brains. Cash only.
STELLA’S DELI 3119 Beach Blvd., Gulfport, 727-498-8950, stellasingulfport.com. Head over to Stella’s for breakfast and order up one of their homemade quiches or some delicious corned beef and hash. Kahwa coffee fans can get their fix Gulfport side at Stella’s too.
THREE COINS DINER 7410 N. Nebraska Ave., Tampa, 813-239-1256, threecoinsdiner.net. Open 24/7, Three Coins was voted Best of the Bay in 2008 and is a certifiable Tampa landmark when it comes to greasy spoon breakfasts. Dishes are economically priced and expertly fried.
TIN CAN CAFÉ 307 S. Myrtle Ave., Clearwater, 727-446-3354. Go for the steak and eggs at the Tin Can Café, they know how to keep the meat tender. Staff is friendly and your coffee cup will never go warm.
TRIP’S DINER 2339 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N, St. Petersburg, 727-498-8980, tripsdiner.com. Taking over the old Dave’s Diner is a swankier, cleaner and arguably better diner that makes a killer plate of eggs benedict.
YANNY’S 1258 S. Highland Ave., Clearwater, 727-446-5797, yannys.com. Imagine a one-inch thick, plate-sized pancake made with four kinds of berries, Yanny’s has it. Homemade Greek yogurt? They’ve got it. Not to mention their famous plate-sized French toast, that is easily the best French toast around. Try the homemade corned beef and hash; you’ll never want it out of the can again.