I've done some of my best work while sitting in diners (and cafes and pubs, but that's another post or two). It's not so much a matter of ambiance, it's more often just routine, a passively inspirational setting complete with creative juices. It's a comfortable corner to let the background white noise of conversation, clinking dishes and coffeecups wash away the accumulated mental detritus from sitting in the studio. And there's pie.
Locally there's Sourdough Sam's where I'm a regular fixture, and also I haunt Deb's Diner (best biscuits + gravy in the state), and the Hilltop Truck Stop (best pie ever).
Elsewhere in Alaska: the City Diner in downtown Anchorage and Gwennies too, plus the Valley Hotel in Palmer (more pie). Diner-wise I often miss Sylvia's in Maine, Clary's in Savannah, the Ellery Country Cow in WNY, and the infamous All Night Eggplant in East Syracuse.
Bonus Trivia: the best cinematic diner scenes (including pie): Michael Mann's 1995 Heat (not the famous scene with DeNiro and Pacino, but with "Want some pie?" Waingrow); Oliver Stone's 1994 Natural Born Killers (Mickey's "Well, let's give that Key Lime pie a day in court"); and Tony Scott's 1993 True Romance ("I'd love some pie").
Honorable Mentions (sans pie): Woody Allen's 1985 "The Purple Rose of Cairo (Mia Farrow as Cecilia in her hellish waitress job "My specialty are mice and silverfish."); Brad Bird's 1999 The Iron Giant (art-hipster Dean McCoppin "Squirrel's in my pants"); Harold Ramis' 1993 Groundhog Day (Phil's omniscient description of the patrons in the diner); Clint Eastwood's 1997 Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (Luther Driggers at the counter with his leashed flies); Quentin Tarantino's 1992 Reservoir Dogs (Mr Pink's rational for tipping); David Lynch's 2001 Mulholland Drive (Dan's nightmare description); Gregory Widen's 1995 The Prophecy (Christopher Walken as the arch-angel Gabriel and his brief exchange with Madge); and last - but by no means the least - the Coen brother's 1998 The Big Lebowski (Walter Sobchak's "enjoying my coffee" scene).
|Image: Polygram Filmed Entertainment/Working Title Films|