Cincinnati: Diner City

From The Echo to Hathaway's Coffee Shop, one town's devotion to local diners sparks passion

waitresses at a diner
Cincinnati: Diner CityRyan Kurtz

One of the things I've always loved about my hometown is its devotion to local diners and dives. Along with Tucker's Restaurant, my favorites include The Echo (3510 Edwards Road; 513/321-2816) in Hyde Park, on Cincinnati's east side. Opened in 1945, it's the kind of joint where waitresses are apt to stick around for a quarter-century or so, and where you can linger over corned beef hash, homemade pies, and satisfying meat loaf dinners. Of the same vintage is the ramshackle Anchor Grill (438 Pike Street; 859/431-9498), located just across the river in Covington, Kentucky, a nautically themed dive where the booths feature mini jukeboxes, and you can sit down and devour a delicious Cincinnati-style GLT (goetta, lettuce, and tomato). Finally, on the ground floor of downtown's grand art deco—style Carew Tower is Hathaway's Coffee Shop (441 Vine Street; 513/621-1332), a 1956 landmark with two U-shaped counters and an aqua decor [pictured] that make you feel as if you're living in a Buddy Holly song. The food is no-frills but reliable: patty melts, turkey clubs, sundaes, and a fine cup of coffee. Some of the waitresses here even sport beehive hairdos—without irony.