10 Movies with Standout Diner Scenes


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Diners may not be upscale, but there’s no denying they should be your go-to destination for greasy comfort food. They are also places where you can sit alone at a booth and nurse one cup of coffee for hours while you read a book.


The diner holds a special place in our hearts for these reasons, so it’s not surprising that it’s a location that turns up frequently in the movies. Here are ten movies with standout diner scenes, some of which are still the only thing anyone remembers about them.

Image Credit: IMDb.

1. ‘Pulp Fiction’ (1994)

Quentin Tarantino’s second movie opens at a diner, which Pumpkin (Tim Roth) and Honey-Bunny (Amanda Plummer) hold up. The scene was shot at the Hawthorne Grill in Los Angeles, which has sadly since been demolished. The movie also ends at the same diner, with the same scene, from two different characters’ perspectives. Technically, we could say this movie has two standout diner scenes, even though it’s pretty much the same scene with the same events.

Image Credit: IMDb.

2. ‘Five Easy Pieces’ (1970)

A scene in the Jack Nicholson movie “Five Easy Pieces” depicts his character trying to get a side order of toast at a diner. This is the only scene anyone remembers from this aimless and overrated movie, and while we all get frustrated when the eatery we’re sitting in has weird rules about substitutions and side orders, we’re kind of on the side of the waitress in this scene, who’s just doing her job while Nicholson’s character acts like an argumentative jerk.  

Image Credit: IMDb.

3. ‘Diner’ (1982)

As befits a movie called “Diner,” the 1982 movie “Diner” has a lot of diner scenes in which the male main characters hang out and discuss such matters as romance, football, and the relative merits of Frank Sinatra vis a vis Johnny Mathis. It’s a great movie, but despite the title, the scenes that will probably stay with you long after the credits roll are the popcorn scene, which we will not link to because it’s icky, and a scene depicting a couple’s argument about the proper filing system for vinyl records.

Image Credit: IMDb.

4. ‘Reservoir Dogs’ (1992)

Just like Quentin Tarantino’s second movie opens with a diner scene, so does his 1992 debut. The film depicts a gang of criminals who are about to take part in a major robbery, but in the first scene, they all go to a diner first, presumably so they don’t cause a massacre on empty stomachs. They have a very NSFW discussion about matters unrelated to heists, such as Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” and the custom of tipping one’s waitress.

Image Credit: IMDb.

5. ‘Heat’ (1995)

“Heat” is a crime drama that follows a detective (Al Pacino) and a criminal (Robert DeNiro) as the former tries to stop the latter from committing a major heist. As it happens, tracking him down is no problem, and it culminates in a scene in the middle of the movie in which both characters meet at a diner for coffee and discuss not just crime and punishment but the parallels between each other’s lives, neither of which sound particularly inviting. Far from glamorizing the lives of cops or criminals, the movie depicts both as pretty bleak, particularly when Pacino’s character says, “You don’t want my life,” and discusses his imminent divorce.

Image Credit: IMDb.

6. ‘Taxi Driver’ (1976)

“Taxi Driver” has a few diner scenes, all crucial to understanding how the movie’s main character, Travis Bickle (Robert DeNiro), is emotionally unraveling. He hangs out at a diner with his fellow cabbies and with a prostitute played by a very young Jodie Foster, but if we’re going for cringe points here, it’s hard to beat the diner scene in which Bickle takes Cybill Shepherd’s character out for lunch, during which he announces his intention to get “organiz-ized.” That’s just the cringiest diner scene, though – the scenes in the movie that take place outside of diners are a billion times worse.

Image Credit: IMDb.

7. ‘Groundhog Day’ (1993)

In one of his best performances, Bill Murray’s condescending meteorologist character Phil Connors spends the movie reliving the same day repeatedly, including a single breakfast at a diner that he is doomed to repeat forever. Once he realizes that he’s condemned to a purgatory of repeating February 2 for all eternity, he makes the smart move and starts stuffing creamy pastries into his face as a disgusted Andie MacDowell looks on in horror.  


Image Credit: IMDb.

8. ‘Back to the Future’ (1985)

It may not be the scene everyone remembers from “Back to the Future,” but one of the diner scenes in the movie is pivotal to the story. Without it, Marty McFly’s father, George, might never introduce himself to the teenage girl who would become his wife and Marty’s mother. George makes a hash of it by telling his intended that he is her “density” instead of her destiny. SPOILER ALERT: It all ends up okay.

Image Credit: IMDb.

9. ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ (2006)

The highly dysfunctional Hoover family stops at a diner during its road trip to a child beauty pageant where 10-year-old Olive is set to compete. Her father, an uptight and hyper-competitive jerk, informs Olive that apologizing is a sign of weakness and that she should not have ice cream with her waffles for fear of the dreaded weight gain. With the encouragement of her grandfather and uncle, she eats the ice cream anyway, much to her father’s chagrin.

Image Credit: IMDb.

10. ‘As Good as It Gets’ (1997)

Since Jack Nicholson was such a natural at portraying a malcontent in a diner who couldn’t have things exactly the way he wants them, he was the natural choice to play Melvin Udall, a man with obsessive-compulsive disorder who must use his own plastic utensils to eat at a diner. For those put off by his treatment of the waitress in “Five Easy Pieces,” there was finally closure after 27 years when his “As Good as It Gets” character is not viewed as a counterculture warrior fighting the system. Instead, he gets thrown out of the diner for his behavior to the sound of wild applause. He had it coming.

Image Credit: IMDb.

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