HOME > Chowhound > Washington DC & Baltimore >
Apr 23, 2007 05:29 AM

Old School Restaurant - American comfort food

Visiting D.C. and Maryland from LA. Looking for good old fashioned American comfort food like a good hot turkey sandwich, chili, club sandwiches, great burgers, and other artery clogging delights. Prefer to eat same in an old school (really old, not 50's recreation) retro restaurant with well worn interior. Anything from drug store lunch counter to an old clubby dark wood and red booth place. A local institution, iconic place would be great. Any suggestions much appreciated.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I know one place that has really good Hot Turkey sandwiches and decent burgers, but the decor is not really old. American Tap Room in Reston Town Center (No. VA)


    1. Well, you better hurry because a lot of the affordable old school comfort food places in DC are closing down. Tastee Diner (Silver Spring, Laurel, Bethesda) will set you up on the artery clogging tip. Downtown, the choices are thinner. Waffle Shop has the classic greasy spoon ambiences (greasy walls too) but the food is nothing special, but cheap. They're about to be shuttered. Sign of the Whale downtown has the burgers and clubby dark wood down (they used to be a men's club) and they've been around since the '60s. BEST sandwiches (roast beef, reuben) are at Deli City in Northeast DC, followed by Hodges Sandwich Shop (been around since 1890s, their roast turkey and roast beef are hand carved) off New York Avenue north of Chinatown, the latter being a takout place, but they've got a picnic table out front. Across the street is Restaurant AV, oldschool red checkered tablecloth italian (also about to be shuttered). Dark wood, Mario Lanza on the juke, great white pizza.

      2 Replies
      1. re: monkeyrotica

        I live near the Convention Center and have tried many times now to stop by Hodges (on your recommendation), but it never seems to be open. Is it only weekday lunches, or are they ever open on the weekend?

        1. re: Hoosierland

          I think they're only open for breakfasts and lunches during the week but they're closed on the weekend.

      2. i think youre looking for trio's fox and hounds in dupont circle. in particular, they have really good freshly roasted turkey, burgers, etc, in a very divey atmosphere. last time i went there was an old lady waitress and of course it was nice and dingy.

        if you make it to arlington, there are great freshly carved sandwiches at earl's on wilson blvd in clarendon.

        1. If you're up for a drive into the beautiful Loudoun County VA countryside, the Coach Stop in Middleburg will meet 100 percent of your requirements.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Bob W

            Good call. The Coach Stop meets the poster's requirements exactly...especially because he/she didn't make any stipulations about the quality of the food, which is just mediocre, but the homey retro-ness makes up for it.

            1. re: Meg

              Plus, afterward the OP can walk around the block for some incredible homemade marshmallows at Mello Out. Mmmmmm, homemade marshmallows. Now those are worth the drive to M'burg.

              1. re: Meg

                Escape mediocrity with their burger. It is really quite good. Also they have a full bar and it is incongruous in a fun way to get a cocktail in a place that looks like a lunch counter. Reservations recommended on weekends, if you mind waiting as long as 45 min for a table. It's not like there's nopthing to do while you wait...

            2. Harry's Bar in the Hotel Harrington at (I believe) 11th and F NW. Maybe 12th. We're talking old school, baby. Also, the Vienna Inn on Maple Avenue in Vienna. Older than dirt. Good hot brisket sandwich w/gravy and 'taters. Monkeyman is right, most of the "good ol' joints" have already bit the dust, especially in the District and Virginia suburbs. All the great drugstore lunchcounters have been gone for a decade or more (the worst ones too, a.k.a. "luncheoncounters of the worst kind"). There are quite a few out in rural Maryland, like May's on 355 south of Frederick and Liberty Road Seafood on 26 west of Libertytown. My favorite diner is the Barbara Fritchie Restaurant on US 40 West at the foot of Braddock Mt. in Frederick. Fresh squeezed orange juice and the best pancakes anywhere. Honest-to-God milkshakes and sarsparilla as well as local delicacies with strange German names. Hasn't changed a lick since about 1965. Nor have the waitresses, a formidable crew that must have 200 years of service between them.

              1 Reply
              1. re: flavrmeistr

                Vienna Inn...was just in there for a chili cheese dog fix last friday. And speaking of points west since you mentioned Frederick, there used to be a drugstore with a soda counter in Martinsburg, WV. Wonder if it's still there?