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May 25, 2006 09:17 AM

That Restaurant You Always Wondered About??

  • b

Don't we all have a restaurant that we have driven by for years, you've never stopped in, you don't know anybody who has eaten there, and it never seems to be busy? You wonder how it has survived so long?

Let's hear from other Chowhounds about those kinds of places and maybe someone can actually give us a report on a place that one of us describes.

I will start out with one -- how about Essy's Carriage House Restaurant in Arlington at the intersection of Lee Hwy and N. Quincy Street? Its sign says it is German/Austrian/Euro, but I never see anyone there and can't find anyone who has been. The place has been there forever, but no news ever on it. Anyone ever been?


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  1. Yes, I've been there. It was many moons ago. Steaks, roasts, chops. Inexpertly cooked at surprisingly high prices.

    Now here is another one for you:

    Aldo's Italian Steak House on Rte 29 (Lee Hwy) in Merrifield. Near Myanmar, Bubba's BBQ, etc. Looks like a chain, but isn't. Does anyone ever go near this place?

    5 Replies
    1. re: Steve

      Aldo is very high priced for what they give you. It has typical Italian menu. Pasta and parmesan dishes, nothing stands out, just the usual fare.

      1. re: Steve

        LOL I just drove past Aldo's the other night and wondered about it too.

        Aldo certainly seems to expect big crowds. There's a sign out front that says "PARKING FOR 200 CARS"!!!

        1. re: Steve

          Bubba's BBQ is pretty good, but not as good as when it first opened. The original "Bubba" is no longer there. OK lunch, but nothing special. For me, it's a change from Red Hot and Blue when I feel like having a pulled pork sandwich.

          1. re: Mike

            I second what Mike said about Bubba's. It's okay, pulled pork a bit dry. Used to be better.

          2. re: Steve

            Aldo's is not Aldo's anymore I believe it was sold about 6 months ago, I don't know if the new owner kept the same name or not? I don't think they did.

          3. I want to know if anyone has eaten at Mrs. K's Toll House on Colesville Road in Silver Spring. I've driven by it for decades but never stopped.

            17 Replies
            1. re: Ellen
              Andrew Langer

              I went to Mrs. K's with my then-girlfriend, now-wife, more than 10 years ago for a special Valentine's Day dinner.

              It was so-so. Or at least, it was not a memorable or remarkable meal. I couldn't tell you what I had - except I remember that there was a salad with mandarin oranges.

              - Andrew Langer

              1. re: Ellen

                Oh, that was a good one, Ellen! Thanks for the reconnaisance, Andrew.

                There's a Steak and Egg on WI Ave. in Tenleytown NW that looks like a holdover from the days before anybody heard of cholesterol, never mind thinking it was bad for you. Has anybody been there? I've long been curious about it.

                1. re: Smokey

                  Are you kidding? Steak and Egg is on the way home to MoCo from Georgetown, and it's open at 3AM, just 15 minutes after closing time!

                  I have to say though, even after 10-12 beers, sitting at the counter watching the griddleman liberally apply the grease could be a little unsettling.

                  1. re: Smokey

                    Absolutely. One of the best breakfasts in town. It's a good idea to inspect your coffee cup and silverware for residual funk, but the original steak 'n egg platter is hard to beat.

                    1. re: Smokey

                      I used to frequent Steak and Egg Kitchen (one on Wisconsin, one on University Blvd, and I think there was one on Columbia Pike somewhere in NVA) after late-night gigs when I used to be a pro musician in the area (we're talking 30 years ago here, folks). The store on Wisconsin used to have this Asian cook who'd grab the eggs one-at-a-time with his left hand, rapidly arc them through the air to his right hand and then crack them into the sizzling frying pan to cook. Quite a show. When I visited DC at the beginning of June, I was surprised to see Steak and Egg still there, though I'd bet the Asian cook has moved on. Truly great breakfasts (then).

                      1. re: Summerfield

                        You have a history not unlike my own. The guys on Wisc. nowadays are mostly from the Ivory Coast. Breakfasts are still good, though. The other S&EK I used to find myself at 3 a.m. was on Lee Highway (nee' Toddle House) in Arlington. It is now Linda's Cafe (not bad).

                        1. re: flavrmeistr

                          FM, I will second your 'not bad' on Linda's and raise it to a ' probably the best greasy spoon in North Arlington'. If you want something fancy this ain't the place, but they are good people serving good, albeit a bit cholesterol rich, food. I do the burger there, though the breakfasts are what they do best. Their omelets are filling and rich and the eggs are just the way I like them off the griddle. The cuts of beef are not the best so they aren't what I order there. But the service is professional and welcoming. I hadn't been there in months and the waitress remembered what I drank and the breakfast I had ordered the last couple times I had been there.
                          A solid 4 star diner.

                          1. re: Ziv

                            best to sit at the counter. but don't get their grits.

                            1. re: alkapal

                              Might be the only greasy spoon left in Arlington, except for Bob and Edith's.

                              1. re: flavrmeistr

                                If you are only talking about freestanding non-chain classic diners, then the choices are limited. There's Cesar's Diner on S. 23rd St in Crystal City and the Arlington Diner off Glebe in S. Arlington near Arlington Ridge Rd. I wouldn't bother returning to either one, but that would be true of Linda's and Bob and Edith's.

                                I'm guessing the spoons are not greasy enough at Metro 29 Diner to qualify......

                                1. re: Steve

                                  The prices at Metro 29 put it well out of greasy spoon range.

                                  1. re: Steve

                                    The original B&E can be good (or at least used to be). When I first joined this board about 7-8 years ago it was already getting a bashing, but I lived in the only house across the street from it (yes, directly on the Pike - it's now a fellowship house for the church).

                                    First, you can't go on a Sunday, period. Even after the crowds have died down the staff is tired. Go at 10am on some random Tuesday and you'll be doing well.

                                    Second, request specifics. The home fries, for instance. Ask for extra crispy if that's what you're looking for.

                                    Following these couple of angles I always had a good greasy spoon meal back then. And it was getting bashed back then. Hopefully that's still the case and they haven't truly slipped.

                                    1. re: Dennis S

                                      I used to go there when Bob and Edith owned it. Bob was the uncle of a friend of mine and baked all the pies himself. He always brought them to family functions. Bob died some time in the 80's (not sure exactly when, as I was out of the area for a few decades). The original location doesn't seem much different than it was when Bob was running it. The location further west on the pike was kind of nasty the few times I went there. Also, the Guatemalan cooks took great delight in clanging their spatulas on the grill, constantly and for no apparent purpose other than to annoy the living s*** out of the more hung-over patrons. After enduring a few minutes of this ungodly racket, I considered shooting one or two of them, but decided it was probably better just to leave and never return. One of the most obnoxious displays I have ever witnessed.

                      2. re: Ellen

                        Had Sunday brunch there about 6 months ago. It was a buffet. There are new owners and they have upgraded the place whilst keeping its charm. The food was a bit above mediocre. In sum its just a pretty place

                        1. re: Ellen

                          I took my boyfriend there for the Sunday Brunch when he found out he passed the bar. It was a nice meal--lots of food, great view out the windows. The garden is spectacular in early fall. I was more impressed with the surroundings than the food, but the food wasn't bad.

                          1. re: Ellen

                            I've been there for brunch; don't waste your money. Food is unspectacular and service very spotty.

                            1. re: Ellen

                              I've been to Mrs. K's Toll House...about 2 years ago. Had an enjoyable romantic dinner with my boyfriend. Great little garden behind the restaurant and if you get seating right by the window its actually very nice to look out on! Food was good, though since its been 2 years I couldn't say what I had other than I do know that my dessert involved a toll house cookie of some sort which was rather tastey!

                            2. high prices + small crowds + average fare + long history sometimes = money-laundering establishment.

                              example that I'm sure of - remember the french restaurant La Fleur at Wisc & Mass in Albin Towers, many moons ago? as a student I worked as a beer-tender at the short-lived "Towers Pub" in the same building, and I got the scoop - the owner of both places also owned two strip clubs in town.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Graham Cur

                                I always thought that must be the case with Anna Maria's on Conn Ave north of Dupont Circle. There forever and no one I knew had ever gone inside. Now I think there is an Anna Maria's at Ocean City as well.... still don't know anyone who has tried either location!

                                1. re: Katie

                                  I've been to Anna Maria's a couple of times, though not in 12 years or so. For a while it seemed to be about the only place in the city open late.

                                  On one of my visits I ordered spaghetti with meat sauce but was presented with spaghetti and meatballs. I pointed this out, and the waiter took the plate to the kitchen. When it returned, the meatballs had obviously been smushed with a fork to be spread around as "meat sauce."

                              2. That place right at Seven Corners. Not the Italian one (well, OK, the Italian one, too!), but the generic American home-style place that claims to be open 24 hours, with attached cocktail lounge.

                                9 Replies
                                1. re: BW

                                  I always knew it as a biker bar, second-hand from conversations with bikers.

                                  1. re: Jamie D

                                    Went in the door once some years ago to deliver balloons - you got it about right.

                                    1. re: Jamie D

                                      Yes, Brinkley's! So the music would stop if I walked in?

                                    2. re: BW

                                      I know that Italian one at 7 corners. Give it a pass, unless you're in the mood for pizza, which is not bad.

                                      1. re: MsDiPesto

                                        Now I remember: Pistone's.

                                        1. re: MsDiPesto

                                          Pistone's is known for its huge buffet, which I think is more quantity than quality.

                                          1. re: Bob W.

                                            Pistone's is legendary for the generous happy-hour drink specials in the lounge. Very popular with the local car salesmen and off-duty cops.

                                      2. re: BW

                                        I live just down the hill from Brinkley's. Had a good bacon cheeseburger there about 15 years ago, but it's not much for atmosphere. Nor is the Golden Diner across the street.

                                        1. re: BW

                                          Brinkley's. Had breakfast there with a friend once while killing some time. It was OK - standard short order fare. I like the old school exterior. something you might see in a 70's cop show.

                                        2. Here's one: The Lamplighter at Lee Hwy and Jermantown Rd. in Fairfax. Surely it's been there since the 1970s and features continential cuisine, right?

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: Bob W.

                                            That place has the best Wiener Shnitzel that I've ever had, and I've had some in Germany. When brought to your table, you can't even see the plate, it's drooping off the sides. It's paper thin with the perfect crust and butter, capers, and a lemon wedge. Excellent!!!

                                            1. re: Scott

                                              scott, what else would you recommend there?

                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                Although I have never personally been to Lamplighter, I must say that I have heard all postive things about the place. I do believe it is an older crowd that frequents it, but the food is supposedly very good.

                                                1. re: ALauren

                                                  thanks. i'll try it. i like that kind of food, and don't need a trendy scene to have a good time.