The appeal of diners, for me, has always been the populist, unaffected approach they take to food. Menus that can rival Tolstoy in length offer a little something for everyone, which means that oatmeal often finds itself on a table next to calamari next to gyros next to chicken-fried steak. Diners are distinctly American in spirit—a broad selection of items for a broad swath of humanity.
Though the menu at Isabel’s in Lincoln Park is pared down to a manageable trifold and the establishment describes itself as a restaurant, the place is a diner at heart. All the trappings are there—the condiment caddies, the glass display cases, the single-serving creamers alongside your coffee. In either an homage or metareference, a print of Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks hangs on the wall.