Inside each 59 Diner location, friendly chatter ripples from booth to booth and white-capped servers scurry around dishing out retro classics. Recognized by the Houston Press as among the city's best in 2009, 59 Diner's made-from-scratch milk shakes and malts slide across tables in old-fashioned glasses before coating tongues in such flavors as mocha, fudge, and Oreo. Sweet sips offset savory burgers, patty melts, and all-day breakfast specials, which can also be ordered in pint-size portions for younger patrons. Meals transport tongues to the past, and jukeboxes release vintage tunes into the air, inspiring guests to try to catch their favorite notes inside empty glasses.
The first IHOP—the dream of founders Al and Jerry Lapin—opened in 1958 in Toluca Lake, California, and was originally dubbed the International House of Pancakes. Since then, rapid expansion has led to myriad milestones across the company's colorful history, from introducing its modern IHOP acronym in 1973 to its 1,000th restaurant opening in Layton, Utah, in 2001.
Today, the company stands strong with around 1,500 locations across North and Central America, each one an enthusiastic dispenser of pancakes, french toast, and tables constructed entirely out of bacon. Though IHOP is known as a bastion of breakfast, it also stays open during the day and into the evening, delivering lunch and dinner as well.
Deb and Steve’s Cafe boasts a menu full of multicultural twists on Americana favorites and a comfy family-friendly environment. Shareable starters include the four-tiered appetizer combo with fried shrimp, onion rings, mini burgers, and chicken fingers, and entrees such as the customizable Texas-chili burger—made with prime Nolan Ryan beef—or veggie-friendly portobello burger save families the trouble of cooking dinner or paying the government to air-drop them lunch. Steve’s famous chicken-salad sandwich silently speaks to poultry prophets, and the new york strip steak arrives with potatoes and veggies, anxious to be devoured and washed down with a fountain drink.
Like the beloved American diners of yesteryear, Elks Diner retains some classic touches, from the tall pie cooler in the corner to the long counter and casual booths. During mornings that begin at 6:30 a.m., Elks' servers warm mugs with fresh-brewed coffee, as well as plates piled with chicken-fried steak and fluffy three-egg omelets. The vast menu, cooked by a chef with experience in five-star restaurants in Chicago and Beverly Hills, also includes panini, hamburgers, and albacore-tuna melts, rounded out by slabs of a chef's selection of house-made pies.
Buzzbrews Kitchen is not your average coffeehouse. For one, it sees some of its largest crowds in the wee hours of the morning. Two of the shop’s three locations are open around the clock, catering both to late-night carousers and early-morning commuters. Whether you think the morning starts at 9 a.m. or 3 a.m., you’re likely to find something to love on the 24-hour menu, which loosely focuses on traditional breakfast and Mexican fare. Mochas and lattes are popular throughout the day, and burgers are a hit at lunch and dinner. There’s also an impressive selection of wines and beers, which explains why some guests show up with sleeping bags and a desire to never leave.