HOME > Chowhound > Washington DC & Baltimore >


what's your guilty pleasure restaurant?

if we're all foodies here, we all had to start somewhere. what's one place/dish you used to love to eat (or still love) but don't like to broadcast? i used to love the old chicken caesar salad at chilis — seriously, it was so good. shame they changed their recipe.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I love the chorizo tacos at the little el salvadorean shack in the CVS parking lot on Columbia Pike in Arlington. Simple, but perfectly spiced, with a sprinkling of cilantro and red onion, folded in the typical double corn tortillas... that they make themselves. It's amazing food for really cheap, in a very odd setting (3 tiny tables in a stand). And I repeat.... in a parking lot.

    4 Replies
    1. re: kubasd

      Hmm. What's the cross street for that location?

      1. re: kubasd

        Oh, this used to be a real CH find. I think you can do better than that.

        For cross street - it's East of Walter Reed Drive.

        To the OP's point, I think Tippi Taco used to be one for me - reminded me of the "Mexican" my Mom used to make. AT one point it would've been Popeye's. I honestly can't think of a current one, though. Maybe occasionally a taco salad at Baja Fresh, but that's more of a case where they win from pros/cons of the options on certain days.

        1. re: Dennis S

          Yes. There was a Tippy's Taco on Hillwood Avenue in Falls Church for decades. Great greasy enchiladas only a notch or two above Taco Bell. Horrible, but I just loved 'em!

        2. re: kubasd

          Is that the place in the lot East of Walter Reed Drive between the strip and the shopping "center" with a Safeway? Originally, that was an Ollie's Trolley and it's been a few Latino variations since then. Hard to keep up with the current version.

        3. Mario's pizza - but only with the bbq topping or the (surreal) sausage patty topping. The only place I've ever seen that will use a whole sausage patty to cover a slice of pizza.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Steve

            Mario's steak and cheese. I wish Mario's could get the same rolls as Mother's in New Orleans uses for their po' boys. That could possibly render the world's best sub. I ate Mother's po' boys and etoufee four nights in a row this week. Talk about a guilty pleasure. Man! It's a good thing I don't live in New Orleans...or Arlington, for that matter.

            1. re: flavrmeistr

              i ordered a mario's steak and cheese last night. it really is a good sub, minus the bread. they use really good quality meat, a rarity outside philly.

              if their bread were a little better, and they had whiz, they would have an authentic cheesesteak.

              mother's po boys are AMAZING. that one that has everything on it, i forgot what its called but it was the best sandwich i've ever had. love nola.

              1. re: kneelconqueso

                What you had at Mario's is the best authentic DC-area steak and cheese sub. Who uses ribeye steak in Philly? Not Pat's. Anyway, you're referring to the Ferdi Special at Mother's. Baked ham, roast beef, "debris" and au jus with slaw, pickles, mayo and two kinds of mustard. I get mine with the au jus on the side and dip it, because the au jus ladled onto the sandwich makes the bread disintegrate otherwise. You can also cut to the chase and get a "debris" sub, bits of crispy roast beef and au jus. A beef flavor bomb on an absolutely perfect roll. Curiously, Mario's is the only other place I've been that uses the cabbage-mayo-mustard-pickle combination on their sandwich. I love the sweet pickles and the nice crunch. Mother's was an instant hit with me.

                1. re: flavrmeistr

                  I have never been a fan of sweet pickles, and I was savoring my first, delicious, meaty, steak and cheese at Mario's and BLAM! Sweet pickle taste explosion! I just about fell off the picnic table, it jolted me so much. Looking back on it, it is funny but at the time I was feeling like someone had desecrated something holy...
                  Anyway, I am on a low cholesterol diet and my guilty pleasures are many but the one I don't like to broadcast is that I actually really like the McDouble at McDonalds. It is a little burger that tastes like a burger, not a mayo bottle. It is not as good as 5 guys, and it is not even close to Rays, but it is a decent little bite. And their new coffee is much better than any of the french roasts at Starbucks...

                  1. re: Ziv

                    great confession ziv. i'll forever have a soft spot for mcdonald's simply because of that orange hi-C.

              2. re: flavrmeistr

                No need to feel guilty about liking the subs at Mario's. My favorite order there is a cheeeseburger sub with everything except mayo. But that is a legitimate pleasure! The pizza with the bbq or sauasage patty is awful goodness.

            2. Folks, please keep your answers focused on dishes that are available at area restaurants now. Nostalgia for closed places and no longer available dishes won't help anyone eat better right now.

              1. Popeye's fried chicken. Sure, it's fast food and a chain, but damn good. I only eat there once or twice a year and it's just about the only fast food I eat.

                2 Replies
                1. re: 4X4

                  Second Popeye's. And second the idea of only going once a year - it's enough saturated fat in one meal for the whole year anyway...

                  1. re: DanielK

                    Third Popeye's. It is amazing how a $5.00 meal can be more satisfying than many expensive restaurants on some occasions. The chicken & biscuits are so good.

                2. Tater tots & grill donuts ala mode @ Del Merei

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: r0cc00

                    What, did you forget bout the deviled eggs and the frickles? Must get there for the grilled donuts.

                  2. The Rio Grande Cafe's fajitas and chips and salsa. Yummy.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: maoj

                      Almost anything at Rio Grande/Austin Grill/Guapos, including those enchiladas covered in cheese.

                    2. Chicken fajita pizza at Uno's
                      Cheesecake from the Cheesecake factory (I know but I don't like normal cheesecake all that much and I like theirs)
                      Marinated skirt steak at Daily Grill

                      And I like the cheese dip you get at Moe's.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: ktmoomau

                        heads up on chzck factory — right now they have a coupon you can get when you eat there — free slice of cheesecake with $30 purchase. and their tiramisu cheesecake is undeniably delicious.

                        1. re: littlew1ng

                          Thanks for the tip. It really helps that the one in Clarendon is on doctor delivery, cheesecake delivered to my door is really dangerous :) Will try the Tiramisu.

                      2. I LOVE Five Guys. I really think they have fantastic burgers and fries - and almost everyone has one near them!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: jrl2929

                          This is probably my guilty pleasure restaurant. And when they hand you your burger in a plain marked paper bag, it adds to the guilt. You know you are eating something unhealthy, and its hidden. The real guilt comes when I order a regular (aka double) cheese burger, instead of the jr. Mmmmmmmmm...it was love at first bite!

                        2. When I lived in Charlottesville, VA I had a terrible weakness for the sandwiches at this "NY Style" deli on the Ave. I highly doubt there was anything authentically NY about it (not that I would know). I'm not even a huge meateater, but they had this sandwich called Five Easy Pieces and holy moly it hit the spot. I ate the entire thing, chips included, no shame in my game. I don't think I want to know what those "five pieces" were though. I still crave that sandwich every once in a while.

                          edited to add: I just remember what it was called: Little John's.

                          1. Avocado eggrolls at Cheesecake Factory.

                            1. Doesn't really fit the OP, since I don't feel guilty, but just back from dinner at Bourbon (the one on 18th in Adams-Morgan) and realized I've never ordered anything there but the "chili mac" -- chili on top of macaroni and cheese. Creamy and comforting on a night like this.

                              1. Santa Fe Cafe in Rosslyn (Wilson Blvd and Oak Street). I used to work nearby and would get the California burrito platter. Imagine a beef burrito covered with more sauce and cheese then baked on top of seasoned rice. YUM. I also love their Nachos Supreme. I used to eat a whole order for lunch. Mmmmm.

                                Santa Fe Cafe
                                1500 Wilson Blvd Lbby 4, Arlington, VA 22209

                                1. OP mentioned Chili's - I still venture across the river to Crystal City for Monterrey Chicken occasionally. I miss their curly fries though.

                                  I also second the vote for Austin Grill and Rio Grande - both have delicious, greasy tacos.