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Mel's Diner in Phoenix named most 'iconic' diner in Arizona

Reader's Digest picked the Phoenix diner for its list of the 50 most iconic diners across the U.S.

PHOENIX — Mel's Diner on Grand Avenue has been recently picked by Reader's Digest as the most iconic diner in Arizona. 

Known for sharing its name with the fictional diner depicted in the 1970s sitcom "Alice," the Valley breakfast spot has been singled out by the national magazine for its syrup-covered pancakes and massive omelets.

The restaurant first opened in the early 1960s and was originally known as Lester's Diner, according to the Arizona Republic.

It later changed its name and the diner's roadside sign would be briefly featured in the opening credits of the popular CBS sitcom that ran from 1976 to 1985. The show, inspired by the 1974 film "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore," revolved around the lives of waitresses working at a place called Mel's Diner in Phoenix.

Fans of the show can certainly feel a dose of nostalgia when they visit the real Mel's Diner and might even be able to convince a waitress to say, "Kiss my grits!"

Not many diners in Arizona can claim a connection to Hollywood, so Mel's Diner seems quite worthy of the magazine's recognition. 

Up to Speed

What is the Valley?:

“The Valley” is what locals call the Phoenix Metropolitan Area. It is considered the largest metropolitan area in the Southwest.

The Valley is made up of various major cities other than Phoenix, including:

  • Mesa
  • Chandler
  • Scottsdale
  • Tempe
  • Glendale
  • Surprise
  • Peoria
  • Gilbert
  • El Mirage
  • Avondale
  • Litchfield Park
  • Goodyear
  • Buckeye

Whether a city is in the “East Valley” or “West Valley” depends on where it is in relation to Phoenix.

The cities of the Valley have a combined population of 4,845,832 people, according to the 2020 United States Census. This makes it the 11th largest metropolitan area in the country right behind the Boston and Atlanta areas.

How big is Maricopa County?:

Maricopa County is the United States’ 4th largest county in terms of population with 4,485,414 people, according to the 2020 Census.

The county contains around 63% of Arizona’s population and is 9,224 square miles. That makes the county larger than seven U.S. states (Rhode Island, Delaware, Connecticut, Hawaii, New Jersey, Massachusetts and New Hampshire).

One of the largest park systems in the nation is also located in Maricopa County. The county has an estimated 120,000 acres of open space parks that includes hundreds of miles of trails, nature centers and campgrounds.

The county’s seat is located in Phoenix, which is also the state capital and the census-designated 5th most populous city in the United States.

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