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That Restaurant You Always Wondered About??

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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.

                                          2. Burke's and Uncle Lee's on Lombard.....

                                            10 Replies
                                            1. re: WJ

                                              Uncle Lee's was the first "modern" Chinese restaurant in Balto. It opened around 1980 up on Greenmount Ave. in Waverly.

                                              Burke's is an old-time joint known for its onion rings.

                                              1. re: WJ

                                                I haven't been to Uncle Lee's since they moved downtown (I had my very first Szechwan food at Uncle Lee's in Waverly back in the early 1980s).

                                                I like Burke's. Great old-time Baltimore vibe. Definitely not haute-cuisine.

                                                1. re: Hal Laurent

                                                  Sorry to report that Burke's has closed and is turning into a Royal Farms store. Very sad, on several levels.


                                                  Royal Farms
                                                  , Middle River, MD 21220

                                                  1. re: Hal Laurent

                                                    Hal, I popped my Szechuan cherry at Uncle Lee's, too. 12/80?

                                                    1. re: conradical

                                                      Kirby's Szechuan on south Charles Street in South Baltimore in '78 for me.

                                                  2. re: WJ

                                                    I also like Burke's a lot; it's an old-fashioned B'more kind of place, which means burgers, onion rings, and hot turkey plates. Honest food at reasonable prices. They have great onion rings and cold beer.

                                                    I've only been to Uncle Lee's for lunch. People like it. I wasn't thrilled. IMO, it's a kind of an interesting "Baltimore" take on Chinese Food. Much more american than chinese though.

                                                    1. re: WJ

                                                      Ate at Burke's only once--for breakfast, and it was perfect. If I lived in Baltimore, I think I would eat there all the time.

                                                      1. re: WJ

                                                        I remember Uncle Lee's...I think it's in a building that used to be a bank. There are at least 2 floors if I am right. When my grandmother used to come to town, many moons ago, she would pick some interesting places to go. We sat on the 2nd floor of Uncle Lees, and the waiter had to carry our food up. He dropped the tray...at 18 years old, that struck me as pretty funny. My Dad was hungry though, so he wasn't too happy.

                                                        1. re: crabapple

                                                          I ate at Uncle Lee's many times when I lived in Baltimore. Loved, loved the hot and sour soup there. They didn't use pork in it as I recall----a big plus for me as I usually end up pulling the pork out/eating around it with this particular dish. The building did used to be a bank, and I have eaten on both floors, at the 'bar' area, and in the back room area on the main floor. I used to make a special stop there when I had a cold for the h&s soup. I told the owners it was my medicine, and they gave me an extra quart for free. Can't beat that!

                                                        2. re: WJ

                                                          I go to Burke's all the time. I love it. Great bar area. Good oyster stew. Very Baltimore.

                                                        3. Can't remember the name, but the Italian place on the ground floor of the apartment building on Connecticut Avenue, between DuPont Circle and the bridge over Rock Creek Park (west side of the street). It's been there a million years but I've never seen one person enter or leave. I keep threatening to bring my husband there, just to see if it actually serves food!

                                                          12 Replies
                                                          1. re: DC in DC

                                                            Sounds like Pines of Florence.
                                                            Part of the Pines of Romes chain?

                                                            1. re: Sal-Monella

                                                              Live a block away - and have eaten there 2 or 3 times over the past ten years - usually when I have a group of tired folks in for a meeting that are staying around the corner at the Windsor Park Hotel - it is cheap but nothing special - - there are regulars who live in area apartments. In the late 1980's there was a very good Indian restaurant in that same space that didn't last long --

                                                              1. re: Kathy

                                                                I remember that Indian place! I lived nearby in the early 90s and went there now and then. I actually think it was Nepalese--it might even have been called Katmandu. It was really good. Pines of Florence, not so much (we might have gone once.)

                                                                Pines of Florence
                                                                3811 Fairfax Dr Ste 105, Arlington, VA 22203

                                                              2. re: Sal-Monella

                                                                forward to 2009...Pines of Rome is not a chain but a singly owned family place in Bethesda. Has been there for years... at least 40 and still going strong! consistency is key: good family style italian food, well priced, efficiently served without fanfare. Like going to a good old friend's! It's been imitated (the highest form of flattery) to various degrees of succes: Il pinito(rockville) and italian pines(gaithersburg) to name 2.

                                                              3. re: DC in DC

                                                                It actually does serve food, although not very well. The dishes are standard Italian-American, the kind of stuff you might get at a pizza place. The people running it are not Italian. Despite relativly cheap prices, I have not returned.

                                                                1. re: KevinS

                                                                  Fio's, the Italian place I believe the OP was referring to, is long gone. I remember it as a fun place with family-style portions, quality on a par with Bucca Di Beppo, decent but certainly not mind-blowing.

                                                                  You are reviewing its replacement, I assume.

                                                                  1. re: Jamie D

                                                                    oops, Fio's was on 16th St NW. sorry.

                                                                2. re: DC in DC

                                                                  Pines of Florence - that's it!

                                                                  I may try it and suffer through a bad meal, just to satisfy my curiosity (if not my hunger).

                                                                  1. re: DC in DC

                                                                    I thought the spinach ravioli was OK...this was a few years ago, though.

                                                                    1. re: DC in DC

                                                                      Yuck! - If it's anything like the Pines of Florence in Old Town, do yourself a favor and stay far away! My husband and I went in for dinner one night a few months ago and were pretty disgusted. It's always full of people but for the life of me I can't figure out why - it wasn't anything special. I had ordered the spaghetti and meat sauce - the noodles were overdone and the meat sauce tasted like ketchup.

                                                                      1. re: schoenick

                                                                        I second your opinion about the Old Town Pines of Florence. Ate there several years ago and have never been back. I ordered the Spaghetti Carbonara and what I got was by far the worst version ever...runny, tasteless sauce and huge chunks of raw white onions throughout. YUCK!

                                                                        Pines of Florence
                                                                        3811 Fairfax Dr Ste 105, Arlington, VA 22203

                                                                      2. re: DC in DC

                                                                        DC in DC -- I'm from an Italian-American, Long Island family and was looking for one of my hometown-type Italian places here in DC. (I just can't justify shelling out lots of cash on food I can make well, let alone PASTA, the cheapest thing on the planet.) Didn't find anything until I stumbled across Pines of Florence. Who cares who its staffed by, they serve everything down to fried zucchini! Italian street food at its best! Give it a try, but make it worth it --- order something you can't make yourself or looks creative. I ordered the Fettucini Florence, which I had never heard of before, and loved it. I'd take Pines of Florence over any of the ridiculous Italian places on Connecticut any day.

                                                                    2. When i lived in Leesburg, VA I always meant to check out Planet Wayside this funky looking joint near Hamilton?? Is it worth a roadtrip out??

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: rHairing

                                                                        Definitely. It's now owned by the son of the former owner, who was the co-owner with his late wife, who did the cooking and created all the recipes. I'm sure the place is as goofy as ever.

                                                                        I drove past a few weeks ago and saw a campaign event being held there and wondered if the place had reopened. Sure enough. See story from local fishwrap.

                                                                        Make sure you get some fries with mambo sauce and make room for dessert.

                                                                        Link: http://www.timescommunity.com/site/ta...

                                                                      2. OK, how about Charley Horse Grill on Lee Highway in Arlington? I recall someone asking about this place quite a while back with no replies.

                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Mike

                                                                          Charley Horse Grill is pathetic. Owned by the same folks as Cowboy Cafe.

                                                                          1. re: Steve

                                                                            Thanks for the brief but detailed review. I've never eaten at a Cowboy Cafe, but they seem to get an occasional nod around here.

                                                                            Care to elaborate? I don't expect anything special, just a reliable burger or salad that isn't priced sky high.

                                                                            1. re: Steve

                                                                              Pathetic is a good word for this place.

                                                                              I tried Charley Horse Grill soon after it opened up in the "location of death." I was intrigued by the sign out front that said, "Ain't No Finer Diner."

                                                                              Um, no.

                                                                              But somehow it's lasted longer than the previous occupants of the "location of death."

                                                                              1. re: Bob W.

                                                                                That's for sure. That place sure has had a lot of restaurants over the years. I think I've been to most of them once or more, but I missed the Indian (or was it vegitarian) place that might have been the last one before Charley Horse. And obviously I haven't tried Charley Horse yet. From all these glowing reports, I'll probably wait for the next iteration.

                                                                                1. re: Mike

                                                                                  Update on the Location of Death ... as of 11 January 2008:

                                                                                  Charley Horse Grill is no more. In its place, "Milan Restaurant." Is it Italian? Is it ... not Italian? We may never know. Judging from the parking lot, no one was particularly fond of finding out.

                                                                                  1. re: Buff Food Buffs

                                                                                    haven't been yet, but at least one hound thought it was worth a trip...

                                                                                    gonzocook, been there again?

                                                                          2. I believe it's called Pars, located on Rt.50/29 in Fairfax (now called Fairfax Blvd). Back in 2000 I drove past it every morning on my way to work and first I'd see some type of brass sculpture that I think is of someone cooking on a grill. At the other end of the front lawn would be rigidly standing a person in an ankle length black raincoat, droopy black hat. Never could tell if it was a man or woman and this person stood as still as a statue. Anyhow, I think this is a Persian restaurant but even when passing it later in the day I'd never see people entering or leaving or hanging around outside.

                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Anova

                                                                              I haven't been myself, but it got some good recs not too long ago by a reputable hound, as I recall.

                                                                              1. re: Anova

                                                                                I liked Pars very much. Maybe my favorte kabobs, and one of the few places with an extensive Persian menu. But it is now the Piano Grill, serving Mediterranean fare.

                                                                                1. re: Steve

                                                                                  Now it has a sign up that it is a Peruvian Chicken joint. Will need to investigate.

                                                                              2. Sorry for the late addition, but here's mine. It's the Italian place (Di Domenico, maybe?) - to the right as you go on the ramp from westbound RT 123 onto northbound RT 7
                                                                                just West of Tyson's Corner.

                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Warthog

                                                                                  I've been there a few times [business lunches and dinners]. It is Italian (naturally) and the owner likes to sing opera to the patrons. It is a favorite haunt of businessmen with expense accounts in the Tyson's area . It is way ovepriced for the quality of the food but has a business following that keeps it going.

                                                                                  1. re: Warthog

                                                                                    The northeast corner of the intersection of Routes 7 and 123 is the original Tyson's Corner, so named for Tyson's Meat Locker situated at that spot. Hard to believe, but until the late 1960's there was nothing else for at least a mile in any direction from there except farmland. Oh, and the Crystal Pistol, a blood-bucket topless bar next to the meat locker. That's the place I always wondered about.

                                                                                    1. re: flavrmeistr

                                                                                      One of the absolute best and most insightful, informative posts ever (serious!!!) that I could not help calling to everyone's attention. Tyson's Corner, for those of us who grew up here, once meant something different... I wonder what ever happened to the Crystal Pistol? Did they ever open another...eh, restaurant?

                                                                                    2. re: Warthog

                                                                                      They are known for their veal chop which I have never consumed. I can however testify that I had the best cheesecake of my life there. It was made with ricotta and light and wondrous.

                                                                                    3. Another one if anyone out there is still listening:
                                                                                      there is a french cafe/bistro looking place in dupont, i think it is called bistro du coin or something along those lines. i drive by it all the time and think it looks really cute, any good?

                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: RMHRosa18

                                                                                        If you're talking about Bistrot Du Coin, it is a very popular french bistro type place in Dupont. I hear their Bastille day celebration is the one to go to in DC.

                                                                                        1. re: rcheng

                                                                                          Good steak-frites (at least a few years ago when I was in DC) but consistent chastisement for terrible service (even written up in the Post for it). In fact, we had atrocious service which included my mother's duck salad being brought out as an appetizer (she asked for it as a main course) and then being left under the heat lamp for 1/2 hr. after she told them of their mistake. Yuk.

                                                                                          1. re: Procrastibaker

                                                                                            Sorry to hear about the rotten service you received at BDC, I have heard that this happens from time to time. My friends and I have had really good times when we went there, but admittedly two visits don't mean we know all about it. But the mussels are very good, the escargot is pretty fair, the gruyere pasta and country pasta were very good but the casoulet looked phenomenal, next time I go I will try that. The crowd is pretty thick, and you get a smoking neighbor from time to time, but the place is very cool. But don't get off on the wrong foot with the wait staff, or nothing will go right. I know that isn't how it is supposed to be, but it is how it works there.

                                                                                        2. re: RMHRosa18

                                                                                          BDC is an unpretentious, high-volume (decibel & crowd) restaurant with high ceilings, incredibly cluttered walls, and a staff comprised of mostly French folks. So, the service reflects their heritage.

                                                                                          Now that it's cold out, if you are seated near the front of the restaurant, the draft will keep you pretty chilly throughout your meal, so asked to be seated nearer the kitchen.

                                                                                          Tables are close together, and if you don't like noise and can't stand being lightly bumped from time to time, don't go. The place is routinely packed, and for good reason. Excellent grilled steaks, mussels are my favorite in town (try the ones with a curry sauce), and the french onion soup is a meal in a crock.

                                                                                          Great wine list.

                                                                                        3. How about Martick's on Mulberry in Balto.? I have always wanted to eat there. We've planned several times but something has always gotten in the way. I fear it may not be around much longer (or is maybe already closed?). It's really a hole-in-the-wall from the outside-- looks like a speak-easy paradoxically painted peacock blue but with no sign or anything. And the owner has a colorful history which I'm blanking on the details of-- he's French, I think? And a recluse to an extent? Anyway, any stories of Martick's out there?

                                                                                          1. Marticks should at least be experinced one time, and true you better make it sooner than later Morris, has to be at least in his late seventies. I do believe Morris was actually born in that very building. The place was, as the legend goes, a speakeasy and later a coffeehouse before coffee house meant Starbucks. That little stretch of Mulberry Street had several
                                                                                            characters...the New Era Bookstore,just around the corner was
                                                                                            considered a communist front because they sold the Daily Worker(and was once firebombed in the early sixties), then there was Abe Sherman down the street...must have been something in that air from the Pratt Library....But in short GO TO MARTICKS

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Hue

                                                                                              Martick's is temporarily closed as Martick attempts to recruit a new staff. (The old staff all quit while he was away on vacation.) I'm bummed in particular because I recently returned to Baltimore and had planned to make Martick's my first stop -- only to hear I had missed it by mere weeks! The closure will hopefully only be temporary, but no guarantees on when/if he'll reopen. My strategy right now is weekly calls. :-(

                                                                                              1. re: charmedgirl

                                                                                                i concur...martick's is a b-more MUST. if you are lucky, after morris takes your order himself, runs upstairs to cook your food, and then delivers it to your table, he will come down to sit and chat with you and your guests in his bathrobe (which i hear is an upgrade from his undies). great classic french cuisine..famous for his fabulous pate which he serves with saltines (hee hee hee)...i love this place and can't wait for it to re-open!

                                                                                            2. for us, it was always that Orleans House place in Rosslyn that claims "serving more prime rib in America than any other restaurant". We actually ended up there last week after a late night at work and meandering homw for dinner. Instead of driving by, we stopped this time and we're very glad we did.

                                                                                              I thought the salad bar was good, but I'm one of those people who really likes salad bars. It had everything I needed, including a tasty ranch dressing, so no complaints here.

                                                                                              The prime rib comes in three serving sizes ranging from 8 oz. to I think 20oz. the prices ranged from $18.95 to $27.95 (I think) and they all come with the salad bar and potato choice.

                                                                                              I got the 8 oz. portion and found it to be plenty with the salad I had built. The roasted red potato on the side is very good. And, I love that they put a lot of au jus on the beef. The beef was very tender and tasty. had a good meaty flavor and also that of spices.

                                                                                              We topped it off with a piece of chocolate cream pie - it wasn't made on site, but is was chocolate cream, so no complaints again.

                                                                                              We'll definitely go back. A meal like we had at one of the "big name" steakhouses in town would cost twice as much. We got out of the Orleans House for $60 for the two of us and very happy tummies!

                                                                                              1. Tom Sarris Orleans House is the only original thing left in Rosslyn. I worked close by for years, and we'd go there with groups of ten for office lunches. The menu really tries to do too much. I found everything to be about par with country club food -- everything tastes the same.

                                                                                                Seems like the salad bar is mostly canned food, and loaves of club white straight from the Safeway. The lunch specials were cheap, if not very good, but no one ever got hurt from the food.

                                                                                                We had limited choices in Rosslyn ten years ago; there was a local ordinance forbidding anything edible there that was very well enforced for years. Our salvation was the Tivoli carryout. Then the Spice of Life opened just past Our Lady of Exxon (the church over the gas station -- eat your heart out Crystal City, you'll never see urban planning like that) and our lunches took a turn for the better.

                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: beets4dinner

                                                                                                  Hah! I remember Rucker Electronics Products that used to occupy the building where the Orleans House is. I sure miss that place now that there's only Radio Shack to get parts. I think the last time I ate at Orleans House I sat in the alligator clip department.

                                                                                                  I rarely go there now, usually with co-workers from out of town who have heard of the place, but I don't mind it at all.

                                                                                                  1. re: beets4dinner

                                                                                                    I guess I can see where you could compare the food at Orleans house to that of a country club. I still thought it was good thought.

                                                                                                    The thing that confused me in your post is your comment that the "menu tried to do too much". Maybe they have a new menu since you last went, but honeslty, they have three cuts of prime rib and maybe 5 other steak offerings and one or two chicken offerrings. How can that possibly be tyring to do "too much"? Just curious.

                                                                                                  2. Asking about a Korean restaurant in Annandale is about like asking about sand at the beach, but I've been wondering about that large Korean BBQ across the Giant parking lot that has the large cartoon-like billboard paintings of cows that look like butcher's cutting diagrams annotated in Korean.

                                                                                                    1. Vinnie's on Main Street in Fairfax (Route 236). It's right around the corner from the Judicial Center of Fairfax County. It has a big sign that says Vinnie's Italian Restaurant and also says "Steaks Seafood". I keep asking people about it and no one I know has gone there.

                                                                                                      Every time I pass it, I think about The Sopranos, in just about the first or second episode. Tony goes to a restaurant with his mistress, and the maitre d' greets him effusively. He goes again to the same restaurant with Carmela the next night, and the maitre d' says, "Oh Mr. Soprano! How come we no see you anymore?"

                                                                                                      8 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: FoodieGrrl

                                                                                                        Vinnies - years ago I used to go there with my family. I went to elementary school with the owners younger brother - they were Lebanese I think (the owner had a big handlebar moustache) It used to have a reputation for very good french (I think cuisine) but I havent heard of anyone eating there in over 15 years.

                                                                                                        1. re: browneyz99

                                                                                                          You must be thinking of somewhere else. I'm the granddaughter of the owner of Vinnie's. Vinnie was actually my grandMOTHER'S name. And there are three daughters, myself and my cousin (a boy). We used to be in King's Park Shopping Center but now are in Fairfax.

                                                                                                          1. re: Phantasma

                                                                                                            i just passed vinnie's yesterday coming from the courthouse. it was 12:30 or so, but not a lot of cars. is the business primarily nighttime? i noticed some people dining on the patio.

                                                                                                            1. re: Phantasma

                                                                                                              Tell more. What's the resto about?

                                                                                                              1. re: Dennis S

                                                                                                                i never ate there, but assumed it was italian. it has never seemed busy whenever i've driven by at lunchtime. you would think it should be busy, as it is not too far from the courthouse and lots of law offices around there.

                                                                                                                it is funny, but i got the same impression as foodiegrrl. tony soprano, indeed! LOL!

                                                                                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                  I work right there now, haven't been, but I do wonder.... I wish someone knew. I always assume if no one posts not to go. Especially when I can get to-go from Dolce Vita and etc.

                                                                                                                  1. re: ktmoomau

                                                                                                                    My significant other and I eat there usually a couple times a month. The family and staff are really friendly. I think the food is good - especially the Triple Filet special which is 3 small filets, each with a different sauce. Being a smoker, I like the fact that I can sit on the porch and have a cigarette with my drink. Not to worry, they keep smokers well away from anyone else who may be sitting out there. They're a little pricy but I really can't think of a meal I've had there that wasn't cooked correctly (they even manage to get the small filets done medium rare) and didn't taste great.

                                                                                                                    10515 Main St, Fairfax, VA 22030

                                                                                                        2. anyone ever tried that philadelphia cheesteak factory place in georgetown? i used to pass it all the time and being from philly myself turned my nose up at it. but my curiosity was peaked--can a cheesteak there possibily hold a candle to a philly whiz wit?

                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: RMHRosa18

                                                                                                            Actually, it's not bad. They have Amoroso's rolls and Cheez Whiz, two of my requirements for Philly cheesesteaks. My husband, Philly-born and bred and a self-professed cheesesteak expert, pronounces them "acceptable," and says that they do a job of fulfilling the craving (his Philly preference is D'Alessandro's, btw, if that gives you the appropriate frame of reference).

                                                                                                            1. re: FoodieGrrl

                                                                                                              Thanks...now my curiosity will not rest until I try one. So long as they have Whiz it can't be all bad!

                                                                                                              1. re: RMHRosa18

                                                                                                                South Street Steaks in College Park is 1000 times better than PCF in Georgetown. And I'm also Philly-born and bred, though PCF doesn't satisfy my craving.

                                                                                                          2. I've always wondered about The Forest Inn in the Westover shopping center in Arlington -- I think its right next to Ayers Hardware.

                                                                                                            Has anyone ever been? Do tell.


                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                            1. re: BRL

                                                                                                              The Black Forest used to be pretty good when the original owners Rolf and Greta ran it back in the 70's and 80's. Nice bar, excellent shnitzel. Greta also had a hair salon next door. At some point, the place was sold and moved around the corner to its present location in back of the shopping center. The only thing they've maintained about the place is the liquor license. Plenty of mid-day drunks, no food in evidence. Lots of cigarette smoke and that under-lying stench found only in serious alcoholic dives. I was surpised to find such a place still existing in North Arlington. However, the smoke and the stench of cirrhosis proved too much, and I fled.

                                                                                                            2. There's 3 or 4 restuarants near the intersection of Wisconsin Ave. and Fesseden St., that look nice, but I never hear about: Matisse Cafe, a Thai place named after its address (4812?). Also Cafe Ole or something like that, near the movie theatre on Wisconsin. The place looks like it is somewhere between fastfood and casual dining.

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: Jay

                                                                                                                I went to Cafe Ole for dinner a few times roughly 5 years ago. I always thought it was overpriced for what it was (sort of mezze-type menu). However, I know many folks who work at Fannie Mae next door and my impression is that they do a decent sandwich that, while not cheap, isn't terribly overpriced.

                                                                                                                Can't speak to the Thai place.

                                                                                                                I've never been to Matisse, but I don't think (??) I've ever heard anything good about it (not very informative, sorry).

                                                                                                              2. Dimtris on Frederick Road right outside of Ellicott City, what is it?

                                                                                                                1. Personally curious about Li Ho Food and Beckys Cafe on 6th and H in Chinatown. Looks kind of scary and noones ever in either.

                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                  1. re: Adam23

                                                                                                                    Didn't someone just post about Becky's in the latest Sietsema chat? About it closing?


                                                                                                                  2. Li Ho used to be fantastic. Not the old stuff sitting in the steam table, but anything made fresh to order. Also used to have my favorite char sui bao.

                                                                                                                    It might be worth a shot if by any chance it's still in the same family.

                                                                                                                    1. Jim's Back Alley Kitchen in Fairfax City. Always wondered what that place was all about.

                                                                                                                      1. Lowbar...come on in to Jim's. Say Biff sent you.

                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: Biff

                                                                                                                          Thanks Biff...I live two blocks away so next time I'm working at home I'll be sure to stop in and say you sent me. I have no excuse for not checking it out yet, really. I'm actually probably going to see what they've got going at the Fairfax Fall Fest this saturday.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Lowbar

                                                                                                                            Biff - can you give us a preview of what it might be, I live not too far, but far enough not to go unless warranted.

                                                                                                                        2. How about Tempo on Duke Street in Alexandria? "Innovative French and Italian cuisine since 1990"!

                                                                                                                          There was a brief thread in 2004, but otherwise I've never heard a word about it. It looks like the kind of place that would thrive largely on air kisses and meet-and-greet in a resort community where there are few other choices, but I'm jumping to some big conclusions based on signage and architecture.

                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: Bill on Capitol Hill

                                                                                                                            Tempo has great food and good service. The architecture is due to the fact that it was an auto repair shop in a previous life.

                                                                                                                            1. re: beanodc

                                                                                                                              maybe i'll give tempo a try. the menu looks alright: http://www.temporestaurant.com/weekly...

                                                                                                                              i'm looking for a good zuppa de pesce..... anyone have ideas on where to find a good version here in nova?

                                                                                                                          2. what about the Alpine Restaurant in Arlington on Lee Highway - I lived a mile from there for about 10 years in the 90's and always wanted to try it...anyone eat there?

                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: browneyz99

                                                                                                                              It's sort of an institution it's been there so long. My girl friend likes it. I don't. The price is moderate but there is far better Italian food available at the same price.

                                                                                                                              1. re: browneyz99

                                                                                                                                I ate at Alpine a long time ago. It was ok.

                                                                                                                              2. What about the spaghetti house nearby, on Lee Highway just south of Glebe?

                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: Joe H

                                                                                                                                  I used to love Ruffino's Spaghetti House, but I'll bet it's been 25 years since I've been there. Same with Alpine. That neighborhood just isn't as convenient as it was when I moved 3 miles west in 1980. ;)

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Joe H

                                                                                                                                    I went to Ruffino's once about eight years ago. I thought it was just plain bad.

                                                                                                                                  2. Diner 29, near Fairfax High School, on Rt 50. It looks crowded, like it could be a good diner. I'm not talking about the other diner, is it Metro 29 chain? I didn't care for it.

                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                      I have been to both Ruffinos Spaghetti House (but not since the late 90's (1998-1999) it was ok but not great in my opinion but I am not a huge fan o spaghetti house food...I used to go with an old boyfriend who liked it - reminded him of the places in NJ where he is from. As for Diner 29 - it is an experience and the food is decent though all I have had is the basic bacon and eggs - the inside probablly hasnt changed since it first opened.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: browneyz99

                                                                                                                                        I seem to recall an article about that Diner 29 in the Post a couple of years ago, mostly about how it was popular with smokers, and if you were a non-smoker, you'd be pretty unhappy there.

                                                                                                                                    2. How about Alfio's in Chevy Chase/Friendship Heights (in a condo on Willard Avenue, I think)? They were down on Wisconsin Avenue in DC next to Rodman's for many years before moving in about 1985.

                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: GregJ

                                                                                                                                        I've never been but the Afghan Buffet place on Rt 1? I drive by a lot and see cars on the weekend. Someone said it is good for take out. Anyone ever been?
                                                                                                                                        I've been very curious.
                                                                                                                                        And I believe the Metro 29 Diner is all non-smoking now. I go 1-2x per year and it is average but go mainly for the company not the food.
                                                                                                                                        As for those looking for lower priced pasta, across the road from the Braddock Road metro station is a little place called La Piazza. You order at the counter and sit down. They bring out your salad and bread then your order. There is silverware but you drink out of cups unless you order wine. They also have a lot of take out. It reminds me of placed in my hometown that are family owned. Not high end or homemade pastas but pretty decent stuff.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: alexfoodie

                                                                                                                                          just to clarify, metro 29 diner (lee and glebe) is not diner 29. no relationship, to my knowledge.

                                                                                                                                      2. Thanks for posting this question! The replies have been great reading. My addition is the Flaming Pit on 355 in Gaithersburg. In my 20+ years of living in the area I have never been there. I have also never heard anyone say that they have been there. I am afraid to go into a Pit of any kind, much less a Flaming one. Anyone been there?

                                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: PJ4

                                                                                                                                          Flaming Pit is a good steak type place with piano bar. The clientele is mostly on the older side, but FWIW I have friends that are in their late 30s that love it as a date night place. I've been there a couple times and liked it fine, but I'm not a huge steak person, so we don't go there that often.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: wookyluvr

                                                                                                                                            i'm not either but i really liked it the couple of times i went. it's really old fashioned, whoever said that is right.

                                                                                                                                          2. re: PJ4

                                                                                                                                            WHen I was first in the area, we lived in Extended Stay America. We ate at the Flaming Pit once and it was fun but we never went back. Still if we were closer, I think we would when we needed that kind of old fashioned night.

                                                                                                                                          3. How about Mrs. Chen's Kitchen, on the corner of Columbia Pike and Highland St. in South Arlington? Driven past it countless times, but I've never had the guts :-) to try it out - and I've lived here 27 years!

                                                                                                                                            Taking a shot in the dark here - how about Pupuseria My Family's on Columbia Pike near Walter Reed Dr. (next to an excellent Thai restaurant, Bangkok 54)? The English translation of the name leaves something to be desired - but is the food any good?

                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: Buff Food Buffs

                                                                                                                                              Pupuseria My Family's is gone, it didn't last too long. It does seem like something else is comming in that spot though.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Buff Food Buffs

                                                                                                                                                Mrs. Chen's always seemed to be the place for Latinos to get Chinese. I always passed - especially with the other options along the Pike in that area.

                                                                                                                                              2. Pilstone's Italian Inn on 50... anyone? Always wondered.

                                                                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: ktmoomau

                                                                                                                                                  kitschy atmosphere. interesting decor. very old.

                                                                                                                                                  had a nice salad bar at least a couple years ago.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: kneelconqueso

                                                                                                                                                    Pistone's also has open mike jam sessions for area jazzers, or so says my trumpet playing neighbor who drops in for a blow. Sundays I think.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: MsDiPesto

                                                                                                                                                      ms dipesto, ask him if the food blows, too!

                                                                                                                                                      happy new year!

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: ktmoomau

                                                                                                                                                    I'd say it's the kind of place you'd go to if you miss Tom Sarris' Orleans House. Prime rib, salad bar, that sort of thing. Not as massive as the Orleans House, but similar atmosphere.

                                                                                                                                                  3. Now that this thread has popped up again, how about that place on Lee Highway just west of Fairfax (intersection formerly known as) Circle that I believe was originally a Lone Star steak house. The sign out front now reads Teenozytoon - not something I remember easily and last time I passed I tried to write it down best as I remembered it. I think it was something else between Lone Star and the current odd name.

                                                                                                                                                    A Google search (after I got the spelling right) indicates that it's a hookah cafe that also serves food. Any experience with either there? It's apparently owned by the same people who own another hookah place in Vienna on Old Court House Road (next to the late, lamented Paya Thai), Lebnan Zaman, where I've had a shwarma or two for lunch over the past few years - ok but Lebanese Butcher is closer to me and tastier.

                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: MikeR

                                                                                                                                                      There is much to be said for a "hookah cafe that also serves food."

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Joe H

                                                                                                                                                        """There is much to be said for a "hookah cafe that also serves food."""
                                                                                                                                                        ah, but here's the rub: it is "what" is said about the "hookah café that also serves food" -- as in, "why bother?"

                                                                                                                                                    2. is the alpine on lee hwy open anymore? there was a hand drawn sign on the door that said "closed" during yesterday's friday lunch period when they should've been open. i had noticed that they were oddly closed earlier in the summer, too.

                                                                                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                        I just read something about Alpine. I don't remember the details, but yes, the closing was planned. I think it's being resurrected with a new owner. Wish I could send you to an article for further information, but I just don't remember where I saw it. It was within the past couple of weeks, maybe in the Post.

                                                                                                                                                        The Alpine used to be one of my family's favorite restaurants, but I probably haven't been there since the mid 1970s. Maybe there were just too many like me for it to survive. I don't recall hearing anything bad about it recently, though. It was always a solid old-school place.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: MikeR

                                                                                                                                                          i went to a lunch meeting there about six years ago, and the crab crepes were out of this world delicious. they weren't on the regular menu, but just available for special group luncheons. had they been readily available, i would've been there every week -- and lookin' like an orca http://images2.wikia.nocookie.net/mon...

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Lori D

                                                                                                                                                              thanks for the article. this made me chuckle: "They [Redskins] were all coming here after the games. I used to be on the sidelines with them all the time. This was a big, big thing for me."
                                                                                                                                                              Tonizzo claims the relationship came to an end after 17 years when owner Dan Snyder took over."

                                                                                                                                                              the article, though, has not one word about what the new owners intend to do with the menu, the interior, parking, etc!

                                                                                                                                                              i hope they make the crab crepes a regular menu item. ;-).

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                I was at a function where the Cowboy Cafe was serving pulled pork sandwiches, which were ok but not great, but the waiter/bartender said that the new owner of the Alpine was the current owner of Spider Kelly's, or was it Liberty Tavern? Anyway, they believed that it was going to be going upscale and it was going to be the 3rd leg of a decent pub crawl, between Cowboy Cafe, Thirsty Bernie's and now the new Alpine. Time will tell.
                                                                                                                                                                And the Cowboy Cafe has a new owner as of 2008 and isn't as smokey and tired as it used to be.

                                                                                                                                                                Thirsty Bernie
                                                                                                                                                                2163 N Glebe Rd, Arlington, VA 22207

                                                                                                                                                                The Liberty Tavern
                                                                                                                                                                3195 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22201

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Ziv

                                                                                                                                                                  yep, mr. alka and i will hit the cowboy cafe for an early brunch on sundays, because they open at nine am. i like their shrimp and grits. it is a LOT better than it used to be. the last time, we actually got fried fish for breakfast, as it had been the saturday special, and the kitchen still had the fish. we each got three huge pieces, a nice remoulade, good cole slaw, and a warm roasted corn salsa. $12.95. very reasonable. coffee is $2.50, though, iirc.

                                                                                                                                                        2. There are several restaurants on New Hampshire Ave over in langley I'm curious but not curious enough to try, especially Walia, African Congress and Mid Atlantic Seafood.

                                                                                                                                                          Mid Atlantic Seafood
                                                                                                                                                          3111 Branch Ave, Temple Hills, MD 20748

                                                                                                                                                          1. Café Monti on Duke Street! I used to live in Alexandria and would pass it all the time. My brother and sister in law still live in that area so I have been wondering if I should suggest as a place for dinner one of these nights...