Diner food is an acquired taste, and many folks in northeastern Oklahoma acquired this taste young. Lucky for them, some of those diners they remember from childhood are still around for anyone to visit.
In Mayes County alone, some diners have been serving up burgers and hot plate specials for several decades.
Thomas Restaurant, Pryor
In the county seat Pryor, Thomas Restaurant suffered a major fire in 2008, but the fire did not stop this classic diner which opened in 1952. The restaurant has been rebuilt and reopened for business and retains its diner look with booths and counters with barstools. Located on highway 69 (Mill Street), Thomas is known for its big breakfasts, tasty coffee, and morning conversation. The special steaks served on Friday and Saturday nights-sirloin and prime rib-are definitely worth driving out for.
215 S. Mill St.
Shelly’s Family Restaurant, Salina
Ten minutes away on highway 20, Salina boasts another longtime diner, Shelly’s Family Restaurant, a local hangout for decades on Salina’s main thoroughfare-Ferry Street. The place is a favorite with the morning coffee drinkers and storytellers, plus, the high school across the street brings in the younger crowd. Don’t miss the breakfast buffet on the weekends, where you can experience all you can eat with some great pancakes, plus all the normal breakfast faire.
110 E. Ferry Street
Cook’s Cafe, Locust Grove
South on highway 82 from Salina, the town of Locust Grove has two diners-one an old-time tradition and one a newer tradition. Cook’s Café, operating for over 50 years, has the classic diner feel with the counter and stools at the entrance and comfortable red booths and wood tables in the main dining area. The wait staff is fast and friendly. The hamburgers are good, and the home-cut fries are even better-still served in a plastic basket with greasy paper.
109 E. Main
DJ’s Diner, Locust Grove
DJ’s Diner, also on Main Street, just a few blocks down from Cook’s, is the newer tradition for local diners, although it’s been around going on 14 years. DJ’s is a favorite lunchtime hangout for local working people. It makes the best cheeseburger in town, thick, juicy, and with grill-sautéed onions. If the onions on the burger aren’t’ enough, the onion rings are also mighty tasty. For the more calorie-conscious, the chef’s salad is a handsome portion of fresh, crisp vegetables. The best limeades in the county can also be found at DJ’s.
103 E. Main