None of the following diners are open 24 hours a day, but each continues to serve Pierce County piles of pancakes, countless cups of joe and probably some club sandwiches from the early morning to mid-afternoon.
As Hermann Harris, who spent a half-century in the diner universe and recently closed Cattin’s Family Restaurant in Puyallup, said in August: “The ma-and-pa-type restaurant, we’re kind of a dying industry.”
Johnny’s in Fife also shuttered officially last year, and Tacoma lost one of its most beloved such diners when Old Milwaukee Cafe closed on Sixth Avenue after 26 years in business. In the wake of that loss, we gathered eight old-school diners to visit in Tacoma.
Now we offer you nine diners spanning from Lakewood and Spanaway to Fife and Puyallup. Some are equally old-school and some are newfangled, but they all serve classic Americana and lots of drip coffee.
The Poodle Dog
▪ 1522 54th Ave. E, Fife, 253-922-6161, poodledogrestaurant.com
The Poodle Dog gave us a good scare during the pandemic, but this Fife favorite is back — opening the doors at 6 a.m. daily with dinner Tuesday-Saturday until 9 p.m. The Sound Restaurant Family also operates Bur’s on this list and Knapp’s in Proctor (on the Tacoma diner list), as well as Powerhouse Restaurant and Brewery in Puyallup.
The Buttered Biscuit
▪ 1014 North St., Sumner, 253-826-6099, facebook.com/butteredbiscuitsumner
The original Buttered Biscuit in Buckley closed in the early 2000s, as did an outpost in Bonney Lake. From pancakes and gooey French toast to chicken and waffles plus house cornbread, this Sumner spot has it covered every day starting at 7 a.m.
Hometown Charm Cafe
▪ 1012 Main St., Sumner, 253-987-7633, instagram.com/hometowncharmcafe
Known for its cinnamon buns and other house bakery treats — rhubarb bread pudding, biscuits, cookies, pies and trifles — Hometown Charm Cafe continues to serve breakfast and lunch with warm service in the heart of downtown Sumner. Open daily at 8 a.m.
Ma’s Place Restaurant
▪ 720 39th Ave. SW, Puyallup, 253-845-8449, facebook.com
Whether you want meaty hash or simple eggs, sausage and toast, head to Ma’s Place every day starting at 8 a.m. Early bird (before 10 a.m.) will be rewarded with filling daily specials — double hot cakes and meat with an egg or hash browns — for under $6.
The Rose Restaurant
▪ 122 W. Main St., Puyallup, 253-845-2874, facebook.com/therosepuyallup
Now in its third decade, The Rose — conveniently located in downtown Puyallup — slings country-style specials like chicken fried steak and eggs, omelets and slices of pie daily beginning at 8 a.m.
Charlie’s Restaurant & Lounge
▪ 113 E. Main St., Puyallup, 253-845-0588, charliesofpuyallup.com
This early 20th-century building was originally a flour company and then a feed operation before being converted to a restaurant in the 1950s. Charlie’s has called it home since 1972; current proprietors Janice Carter and Teresa Suprak took over in 2010, renovating the interior. The breakfast menu begins at 9 a.m. daily with a steak-tip skillet scramble and Belgian waffles with housemade batter (not always the case). Consider dinner, too, for burgers and entrees plus a full bar.
The Biscuit House
▪ 9702 South Tacoma Way, Lakewood, 253-301-3594, mybiscuithouse.com
Since 2016, this counter-serve spot in Lakewood has been drawing crowds for its homemade biscuits, breakfast burritos, a breakfast pizza and saucy pastries and espresso drinks. The following year, the mother-and-daughter team of Galina and Sofia Onishenko debuted an express version inside a Toyota dealership in Tumwater. The only weird thing is you can only indulge Monday-Saturday — they’re closed on Sundays.
▪ 6151 Steilacoom Blvd. SW, Lakewood, 253-588-4844, bursrestaurant.com
Millions of pots of coffee later, Burs is the oldest on this list. Also part of the Sound Restaurant Group, it opened in 1952. Though the prices have changed, the array of breakfast and lunch staples — pancakes, waffles, eggs galore, and diner-classic sandwiches — hasn’t. Visit daily starting at 7 a.m., and maybe catch a seat at the bar “until close.”
Country Rose Cafe
▪ 15803 Pacific Ave. S, Spanaway, 253-539-0127, countryroserestauranttacoma.com
Self-described as “Spanaway’s best-kept secret,” find Country Rose tucked into the big shopping plaza across from Spanaway Park. Swing by for biscuits, hash, an open-faced hot beef sandwich and root beer floats weekdays starting at 8 a.m. and weekends at 7 a.m. Dinner plates also bring back super old-school dishes like liver and onions and ground round.