The dumplings in Fred Spencer's soup ($2.49 cup/$3.29 bowl) rely on eggs and flour rather than the Bisquick-style batter most of us think of. Silky chicken broth marries perfectly with homey chicken and veggie staples to create a dish that fits right in at Freds Diner.
930 Home Ave., Akron, 330-535-3733, fredsdiner.net
Why pineapple pancakes? Megan's Family Restaurant owner Dale Groves' answer is as simple as the way he's been creating the fruity hotcakes since 1979, by simmering buttermilk batter with glazed pineapple chunks until the fruity flavor has satiated the dish. "I like pineapples. I like pancakes. So I decided to throw them together," he says. Though not huge, an order of two golden brown cakes ($3.50) makes a great sweet but tart add-on to a hearty breakfast.
792 Broadway Ave., Bedford, 440-786-0325
Gus's Diner 185 adds a fun spin to the staple diner dessert. Like a sundae (in the little glass dish and all), homemade rice pudding ($1.95) comes with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon powder that adds to the pudding's subtle sweet cream flavor.