HOME > Chowhound > Washington DC & Baltimore >

Discussion

Been around forever - must be doing *something* right?

This thread has its genesis in my thoughts while posting this morning on the "Top Five Pizza Places in Baltimore" thread. I had visited Squires (an old-time Dundlak pizza favorite) and found that they had a style very similar to that of Pizza John's, which is a local pizza legend in Essex that I came across recently (thanks again to fellow chowhounds!).

That got me thinking about what other pizza places in the area have been around for decades (Matthew's, circa 1943, for example) - wondering if there might be other areas in and around Baltimore that might have a recognizable local pizza style, similar to the Essex/Dundalk style that Squire's and Pizza John's have in common.

And then *that* got me thinking about what other restaurants in the area have "been there forever", besides pizza places. So, on the theory that any place that endures for twenty or thirty years or more must be doing *something* that keeps folks coming back, I thought I'd put out the call for the longest-lived establishments you know of in the area - where they are, how long you think they've been around, what kind of place (pizza joint, burger joint, tavern with food, "family restaurant", ethnic place, "special occasion", etc.) they are, and any other comments or history you may be able to provide.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
Posting Guidelines | FAQs | Feedback
Cancel
  1. Well you'd say that about La Fourchette, but they aren't doing much of anything right. I guess Millie & Al's with their constant presence of 19 year olds might be doing something right since it's one of the oldest places in Adams Morgan.

    1. Vienna Inn quickly comes to mind. My fave story about this that I've heard is that the new owner (since circa 2000) is the son of the previous owners, that he went to CIA (the food one) yet kept the menu the same when he took over. Imagine - CIA to make chili dogs and wings.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Dennis S

        Actually, the story you're retelling is all wrong.

        You're talking about Mark, the son of Mike and Mollie Abraham who founded and ran the Vienna Inn forever, until Mike died and Mollie sold the place. Mark was, indeed, a CIA grad, but returned to the Vienna Inn to help his parents and raise his three sons where he grew up. Now, he runs a lovely B&B in Connecticut, and the Vienna Inn is owned by people I surely don't know, but I knew the Abrahams forever, and they were - Mollie still is - the best of the best people.

        And, there's a lot more to running a restaurant than fixing chili dogs - something Mark never did.

        1. re: Atlantis

          Thanks for the correction - I knew around the story but never could get the full info by asking while there.

          Certainly know your last point and I wasn't implying that is easy. I was formerly engaged to an aspiring chef, and I know what goes into plate pricing/food cost mngmt alone!

          1. re: Dennis S

            I thought working at the Vienna Inn was hard work, but when I saw what Mark and his wife had to do to keep a B&B going, I was really glad I went to law school.

            Hardest jobs in the world, they are, and, yeah, I knew you got it. I was just sticking up for Mark, my old buddy.

        2. re: Dennis S

          The guy who owns Super Duper Weenie in Fairfield, CT does just that. (I know it's out of region)

        3. Hershey's Restaurant in Gaithersburg has been around since 1969 and was a take-out place before that. It is kind of half tavern half family restaurant. It is in an old house that used to double as a post office until 1978 across the street from train tracks. It is really a relic from another time - in a good way. The food is more than servicable, but by no means is it fine dining.

          http://www.hersheysrestaurant.com/

          1 Reply
          1. re: dcs

            Hershey's is great, a relic from the days before Gaithersburg (or Washington Grove, more correctly) was a Washington suburb. The drinks are cheap, the food is decent and the bar clintele is a friendly and interesting mix of long-time locals and butch lesbians. The fried chicken and steamed shrimp are standouts.

          2. In Alexandria, there's Table Talk on Duke Street, just before Old Town; you can get the best pies and breakfasts that are traditional and classic and really good. It's only open for breakfast and lunch, and the regulars - as well as the waitresses - are a real trip.

            There is also - after more than 100 years - the Royal Restaurant, in what is now being called "North Old Town," at 734 North St. Asaph Street, a place that defies description, it's so traditonal. It's where you want to take your Granny for her birthday, but you can also rock out on their Elvis nights (if they still have them), their FABULOUS genuine vintage working jukebox, the checkered linoleum floor, the incredibly good, made-from-scratch milkshakes, their always home-roasted turkeys and hams.

            You do not want to miss their club sandwich. It's the best I've ever had. And ask them about the beef stew and the beef stew pot.

            The Royal's also got absolutely GREAT breakfasts. My law partners and I had breakfast there almost every day for years, and we were never disappointed. Oatmeal, grits, you name it - they excel at it.

            The chocolate cake.

            I have to stop now.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Atlantis

              Used to work in Old Town and agree with Mr. Atlantis 100% on both counts.

              1. re: Atlantis

                Went to Table Talk for the first time today, despite driving by the place for years and years and never stopping before. The food was good, the coffee was hot, and the staff was friendly. We got there a little after 8, and the parking lot was pretty empty. By 8:30, there wasn't a table or an empty parking space to spare. One wonders, if the place is only open for breakfast and lunch why they have a full bar, though? Anyway, two thumbs up.

              2. I think Luigi's south of Dupont is the oldest Italian place in DC. Been around since 1943, which must be some kind of record. I think Restaurant AV has been around since the early 1950s, but this is their last year before getting turned into condos.

                http://www.famousluigis.com/history.htm

                There's still a few old timers left: Stoneys has been around since the '70s but moved recently, I think Sign of the Whale downtown was started back in the late 1960s. Old Europe opened back in 1948 and they're still going strong.

                http://www.old-europe.com/history.html

                Waffle Shop across from Ford Theater dates from the late 1950s, but this is their last year as well. We've lost quite a few older places recently: Sherrills, Scholl's Cafeteria, Blackie's. And I think there's talk of Table Talk getting turned into condos as well.

                1 Reply
                1. re: monkeyrotica

                  TABLE TALK WHAT????????????

                  That's news to me. Oh, say it isn't so!!!! That place is surrounded by towering constructions already, and it would be such an awful fate if it were to turn into one of them.

                  Oh, NO!!!!!!!!

                2. In Baltimore
                  Weis's Deli and Attmann's Deli on Lombard Street, they have survived quite a
                  few area transformations!!!! For Good reason

                  1. Ollie's Trolly

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: xnyorkr

                      Weenie Beenie's been around since 1950.

                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weenie_B...

                    2. Gotta give a shout-out to Baugher's in Westminster, Md., going strong since 1948. And the Tastee Diners in Maryland (Bethesda, Laurel, Silver Spring), all of which I believe date back to the 1930s.

                      1. Reeves Bakery has been downtown since 1886.

                        http://www.reevesbakery.com/html/abou...

                        Kaufmann's Restaurant in Gambrills since 1937.

                        http://www.kaufmannsrestaurant.com/

                        Rip's in Bowie since 1952.

                        http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-...

                        1. In Alexandria, there's Table Talk on Duke Street, just before Old Town; you can get the best pies and breakfasts that are traditional and classic and really good. It's only open for breakfast and lunch, and the regulars - as well as the waitresses - are a real trip.

                          There is also - after more than 100 years - the Royal Restaurant, in what is now being called "North Old Town," at 734 North St. Asaph Street, a place that defies description, it's so traditonal. It's where you want to take your Granny for her birthday, but you can also rock out on their Elvis nights (if they still have them), their FABULOUS genuine vintage working jukebox, the checkered linoleum floor, the incredibly good, made-from-scratch milkshakes, their always home-roasted turkeys and hams.

                          You do not want to miss their club sandwich. It's the best I've ever had. And ask them about the beef stew and the beef stew pot.

                          The Royal's also got absolutely GREAT breakfasts. My law partners and I had breakfast there almost every day for years, and we were never disappointed. Oatmeal, grits, you name it - they excel at it.

                          The chocolate cake.

                          I have to stop now.

                          1. Your theory that any place that endures for twenty or thirty years or more must be doing *something* that keeps folks coming back, is true but that "something" may not be quality. Otherwise McDonalds would be the best restaurant is town.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Dakota Guy

                              This is true. In some cases, like Haussner's in Baltimore, I never found the food that great, but the atmosphere was really interesting, with all the crazy junk on the walls. Other places, like Rips, are all about the location. In the 1950s, if you were driving from southern Maryland to Baltimore or from DC to Annapolis, Rips was probably your only option in the Bowie area.

                              Your Mcdonalds analogy works in that people keep going back to the same mediocre places for generations for a certain nostalgic experience, not necessarily the quality of the food itself. Many of the places cited don't serve fantastic food, but an "experience."

                              1. re: monkeyrotica

                                There's a place in Belle Haven, in the same shopping center as the Safeway, that's been open for years and years, but I have no idea why. The food is pretty awful, and yet the parking lot on that end is always full. I think the place is called "Primo's."

                                1. re: davefaris

                                  Primo's is still there because they give you a ton of food and it's really cheap. They put a ridiculous amount of cheese on their pizzas. On a lark, we ordered one with extra cheese. Most unwieldy pizza ever. We were incapable of eating a slice with our hands, it weighed so much. Not much flavor, but you're really not there for flavor. You're there because Cheesecake Factory is too far a drive.

                            2. Don't know how long it's been around, but Eastern House on Eastern Ave. looks like it's been around forever, and from personal experience, they do it right: good, solid food at a good value.

                              Also in B'more: Eichenkranz.

                              1. Mario's in Arlington is nearing it's 50th anniversary. Frank and Lefty have been working the grill and pizza oven for over 30 years each. The Quarterdeck has been there for at least 50 years. Tom Sarris' New Orleans House has been around since the late 40's, I believe. Many of the old timers have bitten the dust in recent years, mostly because the property they sat on was worth more money than the business could generate. Sad, but true.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: flavrmeistr

                                  Tom Sarris' has been around since the '40s but has been in the current (and now only) location is from the late '60s, but I think it's probably the longest-lived of all the Tom Sarris restaurants.. I remember Rucker Electronics that used to be in that building.

                                  Tom Sarris used to have the Covered Wagon (informal, wood paneled) and the restaurant was on Wilson Blvd across from where Ray's The Steaks is now, but they're both gone. There was another upscale one in one of those apartment buildings in Rosslyn, opened later but died early. However, he must have been doing something right to support three restaurants within a few blocks of each other. The Covered Wagon used to be a favorite with my family when I was in my early teens.

                                2. The Quarterdeck in Arlington has been in the same location since the 1930s. It looks it. And I love it.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: dcs

                                    It's one of the best kept secrets in Arlington. I just wish they would have some better bottled beer (I don't trust that they've EVER cleaned their tap lines)

                                    1. re: jpschust

                                      Where is Quarterdeck? It may have been around forever, but I never heard of it! Thanks!

                                      1. re: xnyorkr

                                        1200 Fort Myer Drive
                                        Arlington, Virginia 22209-3503

                                  2. Anne's Dairy Creme in Glen Burnie

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: hon

                                      It's really obvious what Ann's is doing right though. A double dog with chili and cheese is one of my guilty pleasures. I go for it once or twice a year.

                                    2. 1. The DC German restaurant Old Europe since 1948 is still doing very good business, even though disdained by many modern foodies. Reminds me of Hausner's, though smaller and with a shorter menu and a bit better food. (I see another poster mentioned this one.)
                                      BTW, a good winter choice - if in the mood for some inexpensive stick-to-the-ribs fare in an "authentic" teutonic setting. The German draft beer is good, too.
                                      2. L'Auberge Chez Francois, 31 years in Great Falls, first opened in 1957 in downtown DC. Also gets little respect from the foodie elite, but very popular for the ambience and service as well as food.
                                      3. I think Old Ebbit has been around since 1856 (at a different location), and its current owner Clyde's, which bought the saloon's contents for it's current location, has been in business in Georgetown since 1963.