The Reader's Choice: Patty's Diner
For me this category is a perpetual toss-up between Moon's Sandwich Shop (last year's winner) and Patty's Diner. This year the Tugboat Annie of the sacred order of grill women gets her due. Gruff with a heart of gold, she turns out bountiful breakfasts of picture-perfect eggs, heaps of home fries, plump sausages, crisp bacon, fluffy pancakes, and, best of all, griddled salty-sweet ham cut from the bone. House-made biscuits and gravy with potatoes is popular, as is the tasty corned beef hash, but if you ask me, ham hash paired with two eggs over easy takes the brass ring. Off-menu "old potatoes" are home fries given a second seasoning and deep-fried till crisp—a must-order in my book.
At lunch, juicy charred burgers handmade from house-ground meat are given a turn on an ancient grill and served on a house-baked bun. The chunky chicken salad sandwich is made with fresh-roasted chicken, and daily specials come with homemade bread and soup; I love the soul-satisfying beef barley. Meat loaf and beef stew satisfy too, but don't miss the Wednesday turkey special: roasted turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, and gravy—old-school comfort food done right. Patty's is the diner everyone wishes was in their neighborhood. 3358 Main, Skokie, 847-675-4274. —Gary Wiviott
&Our readers' choiceGlenn's Diner
1820 W. Montrose, 773-506-1720, glennsdiner.com.