Of course Manny's is (at least for many) the ultimate cafeteria in Chicago, and smorgasbords like Red Apple are ubiquitous here, but generally speaking, most of the rest of the world outside Indiana just doesn't get cafeterias. A cafeteria is a very long line of steam tables. The cafeteria is probably the Hoosier state's signature contribution to the American epicurean scene, and I say this without even a hint of irony. Indiana cafeterias (1) serve extraordinarily good food and (2) are unequalled outside the state line (and I know this having tried quite a few of those cafeterias south of the Mason Dixon line, where they also are quite popular...and don't measure up). Growing up in Indianapolis (as disconnected as that urban center is from the Hoosier majority), we ate every Sunday post-church meal (and sometimes a weekday dinner as well) at a cafeteria (Laughner's (founded 1900), MCL or one of the many independents). The signature piece is of course top-flight fried chicken (NOTE: always pan fried; the deep fried version so prevalent in these parts like Hecky's, ECS, Harold's, etc. is O.K. in a pinch but is really just an inferior product, and wouldn't be suffered at even a mediocre Indiana cafeteria). The second signature piece is delicious pie. In about 1,879 varieties, each one better than the last. Good pie is a lost art; you hardly ever see it as a dessert, except at goddawful places like Baker's Square. But the art of the pie has not died in Indiana, and the cafeteria is the place to get it.
Thought I'd also mention the great cafeteria down in Mooresville. Gray Bros? Something like that. Outstanding. Of course, like 90% of kids growing up in Indiana, I worked at MCL cafeterias, bussing tables and scrubbing congealed Meringue off my acne-covered 15 year-old face. Well, that or Corn Detassling.
Along with the Chicken, they made outstanding Cinnamon buns...