Best Diner - 2002
South City Diner
Readers' Choice: South City Diner
We know a thing or two about diners and the difference between the real deal and those retro ripoffs that have all of the chrome and none of the rib-sticking fare. You learn to look for the diner essentials: coffee done in the American style -- clear, strong and never left too long on the burner; sunny-side-up eggs with crisp edges and unbroken yolks; the freedom to fire up Lucky Strikes at both counter and booth with your java; home fries that have been thoroughly cooked but not burned; gut-buster omelettes and meatloaf that somebody's mother might recognize as her own. You want all that in St. Louis, then hie thee down to Peter Spoto's joint. Spoto, who used to cook for 200 pipeline jockeys on Alaska's North Slope, has been serving up nothing but comfort food for ten years now and will soon be moving his operation to the old Dickman Bakery, next door to his current location. His current joint sports good tunes on the juke, lots of Elvis gewgaws and waitresses in outfits straight out of the 1950s. But that ain't why you walk in the door. It's the food, stupid. Check out the hangtown omelette -- it's hard to beat oysters and eggs -- or the homemade meatloaf.