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Jun 2, 2009 04:53 PM

Why is NoVA so devoid of good homey fair?

Leesburg, Frederick, Fredericksburg, they all have nearly half a dozen local places each that I crave often, but fairfax/vienna/tysons/fallschurch/'hell' has basically nothing when it comes to farm-to-market/Localyowned/American/pubfood fair?

is there some place I'm missing? dogfishead is basically it.

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  1. That's a big bunch of umbrella's you're packing there. More than GAR, more than stuff like Pan Am Family, more than Fosters, etc? Please give more detail cuz I think they're out there. Also - with that range, are you okay with northern FFX too?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Dennis S

      I was just at Pan Am for the first time today. A huge plate of Stuffed Cabbage for $9 including a salad. Very good. Served with peas and carrots that had some nice crunch to them. If the rest of their food is this good, it may be the best diner in the area.

      1. re: Steve

        I need to again myself, but sometime try the pizza. They used to have a crazy good sauce.

    2. American pubfood? Like burgers, nachos, fries? There are plenty of that but no one ever talk about them since they're no better than Cheesecake Factory.

      1. When I read the title of your post - I immediately thought of Payne's in Centreville. That is a homey place. But - certainly nothing like Dogfish.

        Paynes is a great place to go for an "old fashioned breakfast". It is not a diner, but serves that sort of food. I do feel like I am in a blast from the past when I go there.

        Not gourmet. Not fancy. Not adventurous. But - if you are looking for homey, this certainly is that. (PS - an it is not farm to market, either!)

        2 Replies
        1. re: MarietteB

          Yes, I thought of Payne's too. Another along those lines is the Virginia Kitchen (AKA Waffle King) in Herndon.

          1. re: MarietteB

            Horrid place! Lousy Food! Dirty kitchen and the best thing is IT IS CLOSED.

            sorry. not a fan at all.

            If you're in the C'ville / Manassas area - try Yorkshire Restaurant on 28 in Manassas (Park?). The breakfast is great! The people are nice, and the kitchen looks ok.

          2. i think i know the types of places you're talking about...sort of like the places on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives...locally owned, funky places with good food, eclectic menus, and, ideally, locally sourced ingredients.

            you are correct. we have none of those and it makes me angry.

            10 Replies
            1. re: CoconutMilk

              I take it you've never been to Vienna Inn. Or Tastee Diner. Or Amphora. Or Pan Am.

              Vienna Inn
              120 Maple Ave E, Vienna, VA 22180

              Amphora Restaurant
              377 Maple Avenue West, Vienna, VA

              29 Diner
              10536 Lee Hwy, Fairfax, VA

              Pan Am
              Lee Highway and Nutley St, Fairfax, VA

              1. re: monkeyrotica

                Amphora is awful and only worthwhile because of its hours. 29 Diner is horrible food and over-priced for what it is. I mean, yes... we have the eastern meditterearean owned diner thing on lock (I personally prefer Sparta down in Burke). but... none of these places are of the type I want... a new-ish place with a smart beer list and decent american food.

                anyone wanna open one with me? theres a few buildings a block or two from oldetown fairfax that'd work nicely.

                1. re: Crocken

                  I agree about Amphora's and 29 Diner. I've been to both Amphora's (Vienna and Herndon) and wasn't impressed with either. I thought 29 Diner tried far too hard to be the trendy homey place and priced itself as such. Food was more unusual than Silver Diner but I don't think the quality was any better (and that's not saying very much).

                  If you build a good homey place, I'll come.

                  1. re: chowser

                    I've had good luck with the Greek food at Amphora, but everything else has been pretty meh. At least they still use real gyros off a spit instead of that grey prepackaged bologna abomination.

                    Silver Diner is a complete nightmare, which is a shame because they used to be quite decent. Then they tried to be all things to all people and the suckage continues to this day. You'd figure with bankruptcy, they'd re-organize and focus on diner fare instead of overpriced IHOP meets Applebees.

                    Of all the Tastee Diners, 29 is probably the weakest. I prefer the Laurel branch: Silver Spring is too clean, Bethesda is too crowded.

                    1. re: monkeyrotica

                      We've been to the one in Vienna a couple of times, a long time ago, and thought it was meh, as you said. We heard here that the one in Herndon was better. My husband had the greek platter w/ moussaka, pastitzio and something else and found them dry. But, for all those dishes, he's only had what I made at home so it's hard to compete w/ freshly cooked foods. I can't remember what I had but my nephew had ribs that were dry. I thought it was pretty pricey, too. I'll have to try the gyros. I love a good one and find it's more often too dry.

                      I haven't tried Silver Diner in years but 29 Diner in comparison tries more upscale food, with the corresponding price, but not substantially better in quality. I was surprised at how packed it was, about 2pm, and how unfriendly the service was.

                      But, overall in NoVa, I can't think of a great homey restaurant or a place that has good brunch/breakfast foods like the OP asked. I'd love to find one. Maybe smaller neighborhoods, like Del Ray might?

                      1. re: chowser

                        When people in this thread say "29 Diner," are they referring to Metro 29, the place on Lee Hwy in Arlington, near the intersection with Glebe Rd.? As noted above, "29" is also the name of a diner in Fairfax, on Rte 29/50 off Chain Bridge Rd. near Brown's Fairfax Mazda. I've eaten many breakfasts there while my car was being worked on. It is classic greasy spoon cuisine, with the emphasis on grease. But then, as with cars, we all occasionally need lubrication.

                        As for Metro 29, I've never understood the fascination or the lines out the door. It's okay, but has no character at all.

                        1. re: Gonzocook

                          At something like 26$ for a steak and egg breakfast, the Metro 29 is ridiculously expensive for a diner, even for Arlington. For $12 at the Double T Diner in Frederick, you get a perfect 12 oz. New York strip with your eggs and they have a breakfast special with pancakes or French toast sausage, bacon, eggs and fruit for under $7 that is too much to finish. There are at least a dozen good breakfast spots in Frederick. You have to go further and further from DC to get a decent breakfast or lunch for a reasonable cost. Crazy, isn't it?

                          1. re: Gonzocook

                            I mean Metro 29. I've wanted to try the diner on Rte 50 and looks like a good old diner.

                            1. re: chowser

                              29 Diner is a good greasy spoon. Metro 29 is a hot mess.


              2. I am not sure what you mean by pubfood, but if you really mean pub food then Eammon's in Alexandria is your place- fish and chips is about as pub food as you can get.

                In Falls Church Old Hickory Grill has some good things on the menu. But do you want farm to table or pub food or American, or do you think all these are the same? Or you want a mix of all of them? I am a bit confused.