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Best diners in D.C. area

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  • flavrmeistr Mar 26, 2002 11:37 AM
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I saw the post further down for the best diners in
Baltimore. Baltimore is the kind of town where you
would expect to find lots of diners and other neighborhood institutions (affordable working-class
town, large native multi-generational population). There was a time when the D.C. area was more like this
as opposed to the wildy successful multi-cultural
experiment it has become (which I, as a chowhound and
curmudgeonly bon vivant, regard as an excellent development). One casualty of this, for better or worse, has been the demise of the local diners and
lunch counters. Food of no discernable ethnicity.
Biscuits at breakfast, green beans and mashed 'taters
at lunch. Good but unfussy food, fairly cheap and
unselfconsciously presented. Are there any surviving
stand-outs that we should know about? Don't keep 'em
to yourself, we won't all show up at once. I'll start
with two:

Bob 'n Edith's Diner on Columbia Pike near Four Mile
Run in Arlington. Great breakfast-steak 'n eggs, big
omelets, biscuits 'n gravy
The Amphora--Rt 123 near Maple Ave. in Vienna--Huge
menu, 24/7, some Greek specialties, breakfast, steaks,
seafood--anything anytime and all good. Full bar.

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  1. What's the place in Arlington that has fresh donuts at breakfast? Is that Whitey's? Now that's a diner.

    6 Replies
    1. re: TerriS

      Someone else on this board said Whitey's was still
      happening. One of my all-time favorites. Great onion rings, broasted chicken, hot roast beef sandwiches with
      the bonus of live music and a full bar. And they serve
      breakfast now, you say? That's what I call The Total
      Package.

      1. re: TerriS

        The first and foremost Original B&E (Bob and Edith's) at Columbia Pike and Adams; the 29 Diner on Lee Hyway just past 123. Fried porkchops, sunny side up eggs, grits, homefries, grilled onions, burgers, french fries, fried anything. Both have the best and tastiest diner food in town (as long as we're not talking fat or caloric intake)subjects that do not pertain to great dinering.
        (Yes,I think I just make up that word, dinering)rp

        1. re: TerriS

          Please tell me where Whitey's is located! We're visiting DC this week and love diners. Thanks!

          1. re: anna

            It's in Arlington on Washington Blvd. just west of Rt 50.

            1. re: flavrmeistr

              thanks, I'll check it out next week if I can get there via metro or other public transit.

            2. re: anna

              Whitey's is excellent for the style of restaurant that it is but in no way does it resemble a diner in appearance.

          2. Tastee Diner still lives! 3 locations: on Cheltenham St in Bethesda, off Georgia Ave in Silver Spring, & on Rte 1 in Laurel.

            I recently sampled Frank's Diner on Rte 1 in Jessup.

            Nearby is Country Pride, next to a truck stop. It's part of chain though.

            Don't forget Nick's Diner at University Blvd & Viers Mill Rd in Wheaton.

            Then there's Waffle House on 10th St in DC.

            And Florida Ave. Grill, 14th & FL Ave.

            And how about Jimmy T's on Capitol Hill?

            Anybody been to Baugher's diner in Westminster, MD?

            1 Reply
            1. re: Laurena

              Yes, we've been to Baugher's, in Westminster (MD) - we'll even make a special drive out there! Great pies and ice cream. Once my husband and I just wanted to split a piece of cherry-chocolate pie for desert, and the waitress was nice enought to split it for us and top it with whipped cream. Really good fried chicken. They have a nice little produce market too.

            2. Whitey's mentioned below is good but it's clearly NOT a diner but does qualify as a "lunch counter." The two Amphoras, for me, are closest to the Jersey or Baltimore style diner that you mention but neither is as good as, say, the one on 40 West. I'm surprised that no one mentioned the Tastee Diner in Bethesda which is different and arguably better than either Fairfax, Silver Spring or Laurel's "roach coaches"; Silver Spring despite the publicity and efforts to save it was always a curiosity for me having lived there. The food was uniformly bad, never in league with Bethesda.
              But again Bethesda isn't in league with the ones you mention.
              The Silver Diner is interesting because the first several of them including the original on Rockville Pike are REAL diners prefabricated in New Jersey and trucked down here. They are actually identical to a real new diner that you would find where they are made. After the first three or four they are all built as simulated diners not as real ones. I am discounting them because they are a public traded chain and for me do not have the personality of a one of a kind like 40 West or the original Amphora. If they had stopped after the first and only the Rockville Pike location existed it would be my pick. But they didn't.
              Bob and Edith's have great breakfast but is very small and if memory serves me correct more like a Toddle House with a much more limited menu than the previous two.
              Then there are outposts like the Frost Diner in Warrenton...

              1 Reply
              1. re: Joe H.

                I remember the Frost Diner when it was just about the
                only thing out that way. They saved my life one night
                when my car broke down on the way back from Charlottesville. I would have surely froze to death if not for those fine folks. There is also Bob's Beef
                House at Fairfax Circle, a venerable 24-hour drunk
                magnet if ever there was. The food wasn't great, but
                you'd never arrive to find the door locked. How about
                Steak-in-a-Sack at Bailey's Crossroads? The strongest
                coffee and the greasiest food ever. My brother was
                hooked on those horrible "steak" & cheese-stuffed pitas
                that were so greasy they fell out the bottom of the bag. Nostalgia has it's limits, I guess.

              2. I miss Cheryl's (or was it Sheryl's?), formerly of Capitol Hill. The food was okay but I really ate there for the drama (there was nothing like watching those ladies bicker!) And the gingermen were the best ever . . .

                1. The Diner on 18th near Columbia is by no means your standard Tastee-type diner, but it has the goods. It's open 24/7, complete with booth and counter service, good burgers, shakes, fries, and you can get breakfast at all hours. The turkey club is pretty damned good, but their meatloaf loafs a little too much.

                  Ben's Chili Bowl on U and 13th has been around since the 50s. Breakfasts, burgers, and of course chilidogs, but I prefer the halfsmokes, which have just the right snap to them. Nothing tops the chilicheese fries after a night of drinking (they're open until 3am weekends). Metro's right across the street.

                  Florida Avenue Grill has the atmosphere right, but considering what they're peddling, they're a little overpriced. And oversalted.

                  The Waffle Shop across from Fords Theater can get packed with tourists, but the food is cheap and filling. Classic diner linoleum counter and red vinyl stools.

                  1. h
                    Harlan Messinger

                    Bob and Edith's (which I was going to mention) is maybe three miles east of the intersection of Columbia Pike with Four Mile Run. It's close to the interchanges with 395 and Washington Boulevard.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Harlan Messinger

                      Thanks. My compass is a little rusty.

                      1. re: Harlan Messinger

                        actually, you're both right. there are now 2 Bob & Edith's Diners. the food is exactly the same at each place.
                        one thing about B & E's - if you like your food well-cooked, like crispy bacon or eggs over hard, you gotta tell them. My friend dubbed their style "Too Fast Food".
                        chow