Johnny's Diner is a classic diner in the West End with a no-frills menu that includes breakfast and lunch staples from the griddle like pancakes, omelets, and sandwiches.
A Tried and True Diner in Pittsburgh
The diner has had different names and owners throughout its life, which seems to match the hodge podge building construction – there's the long and narrow pre-fab portion with counter seating, and then a small addition on one end with a few tables. Old Pittsburgh drawings and lottery advertisements line the walls and the windows are dressed with frilly old school curtains.
We highly recommend taking seat at the long counter to watch the action at the flat top griddle and take in all the sights, sounds, and smells.
A mound of potatoes sizzles in one corner of the griddle where slices of bacon sit on top so that the fat permeates the whole pile of potatoes. Giant omelettes and pancakes are being flipped and plated with utmost skill. A big tub of butter sits next to the griddle where seemingly every plate makes a stop to get a golf ball sized scoop before being served.
Big Johnny's Breakfast and the Large Pancakes
We ordered the massive breakfast which came with eggs, choice of breakfast meat, toast, potatoes, and two “small” pancakes. Everything was executed well, from perfect eggs over easy to the crispy-edged potatoes. And of course, that well-seasoned griddle adds layers of flavor, too. It was so much food, and such a good deal – most menu items are under $7.
We also ordered the one giant pancake which lived up to the hype. It was probably bigger than both of our heads put together and almost hung over the edges of the plate. It was thick and fluffy but also pretty dense, meaning it was impossible to eat it all.
Johnny's Diner is the kind of place where kindness and good service still exists. I ordered a side of bacon with my pancake and when they gave me the plate they apologized that the bacon was “shriveled” and that they would bring me a second plate. I saw nothing wrong with the first plate of bacon, but who am I to turn down an extra plate of bacon and hospitality?
As we make our way to more and more greasy spoons in Pittsburgh, we have a feeling this one will stay near the top of the list. The food is standard diner fare but it's done well, the service is great, and the prices are hard to beat.
Johnny's Diner is located at 1900 Woodville Avenue in Pittsburgh's West End. Johnny's Diner is cash only.
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