There’s nothing quite like a retro diner that encapsulates the unique American dining experience. With colorful, vintage decor, jukeboxes, and comfortable booths, the nostalgia for the 1950s and 60s is as much a part of the experience as the delicious comfort food.

Many people use the words “diner” and “restaurant” interchangeably. They may not realize the unique features that distinguish them from each other. Knowing the difference can provide some clarity on what to expect next time you want to go out to eat.

What Makes A Restaurant, A Restaurant?

The word “restaurant” is a broadly used term that can refer to anything from fast food to five-star establishments. Technically, a “restaurant” refers to a place that offers a full menu of food and beverages. These are ordered with a server and brought out to patrons at their tables. Fancier establishments may take reservations for seating or may require them for parties of a certain size.

The most distinguishing feature of restaurants is their variety in terms of food styles. Even chain restaurants that generally have the same food in every establishment may offer a few items that are unique to the restaurant’s location. An Applebee’s in Texas, for example, may look slightly different from one in New York.

Restaurants don’t just make certain foods, but also seek to cultivate particular moods. From “farm to table” style, to family style, to upscale date nights, restaurants create unique dining experiences in menu style, wall décor, lighting, and even the demeanor of the staff. Casual, laid-back, family-friendly establishments may be more inclined to serve birthday desserts with a loud, playful routine by wait staff, while upscale establishments may be more reserved in their celebration and bring out a dessert with a simple candle.

What Makes A Diner, A Diner?

The diner is an American invention that dates back to 1872 when Walter Scott converted a horse-drawn wagon into a booth to sell food. The vibe is definitely more laid back than most restaurants, where customers can opt to seat themselves wherever they’d like. Unlike restaurants, it’s not unusual for many diners to be open 24/7, depending on the location. If you’re just leaving the bar at 2 am and need some greasy food to absorb the alcohol you drank, your local diner is sure to still be open.

The diner atmosphere is famously friendly, casual, and open, allowing customers to view the cooks preparing the food and the servers preparing pots of coffee. Small groups can gather at a soda fountain bar, while larger groups can sit at vinyl-covered booths. A true 1950s-style diner may even have an old-fashioned jukebox for playing music to really set the mood.

The diner today is mainly a Midwestern staple, with foods that are high in comfort value as well as greasy goodness. From burgers to piled-high fries, to root beer floats, all your favorite American foods can be found here.

Your New Favorite Retro Diner In South Florida

Meet your new addiction. Nelson’s Diner is the place to find all your favorite food classics in Pompano Beach. With all-day breakfast, plus classic stand-bys like burgers and fries, you’re sure to find something that everyone in the family can enjoy. We also offer online ordering and delivery. For reservations or questions about our menu, call today at 954-785-3646.

Bring your family for a fall photo opportunity with a beautifully decorated fall back drop on the bed of a vintage ’68 Chevy truck on specialty weekends September thru November.  Follow us on Instagram for upcoming dates and information on other themed events.