Photo by Shannon Richardson

Shelby’s Diner

Diners are great for people-watching, but one prominent Amarillo diner offers something else: plane-watching. Located at Tradewind Airport, the down-home menu of Shelby’s Diner is served up each day next to huge windows with runway views. Locals enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner with a side of takeoffs and landings.

The diner, which opened in early 2022, is named for Amarillo legend Shelby Masterson Kritser. This long-time pilot founded the privately owned, public-use Tradewind Airport in 1946. Kritser passed away in 1966.

Shelby’s honors his legacy and satisfies hungry pilots and travelers with an all-American menu. Operated by the Pitman family—proprietors of the beloved Hickory Inn Cafe in Vega—the diner offers a full breakfast menu and daily lunch specials, along with dinner on Thursdays and Fridays. “We basically copied the menu from our restaurant in Vega,” says manager Kenny Pitman. “It’s what we do best.”

The Gulfstream Chicken Fried Steak is definitely the most popular dish at the restaurant, along with a variety of burgers, salads and sandwiches. The breakfast menu, served 7 to 11 a.m., includes staples like omelets, pancakes, biscuits-and-gravy, plus the delicious Kritser Breakfast Sandwich.

Customers also love the homemade pies, which come fresh daily from another legendary Vega restaurant: Mama Jo’s.

Pitman says the airport setting means most customers are local—but some are very much not. Tradewind’s central location makes it a prominent refueling stop for cross-country flights. For instance, a group of business travelers from Ohio have made a habit of stopping for lunch at Shelby’s during their regular private flights to and from Los Angeles. “They come here a lot,” Pitman says.

Shelby’s Diner opens from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. every weekday but Sunday, and serves dinner from 5:30 to 9 p.m. every Thursday and Friday.

4105 Tradewind St.