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Jul 26, 2013 05:13 AM

Five restaurants that time (almost) forgot.

Vienna Inn
Old Europe
Calvert House
Mama Ayesha's

All definitely hit-or-miss in the chow department, but for basic food like hotdogs or schnitzel, I've had a lot worse. What are some other unpretentious time capsule DC eateries that made it into the 21st century? I'd add Famous Luigi's, Italian Inn, the Royal in Old Town, Florida Avenue Grill, Jiffy Shoppes in Suitland.

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  1. We often hit Tastee Diner after church for breakfast. Food is terrible (but cheap). But the setting, the service and the experience is perfectly old school.

    Also, we had dinner at Crisfield's in Silver Spring on Tuesday. Talk about "nothing has changed". It is exactly the same as when I first went 30 years ago. We had great clams on the half shell, broiled rockfish, crab imperial, and very lightly fried soft shell crabs. Delicious.

    Finally, we get to Amalfi's in Rockville a couple times a year. Pastas are good, whole grilled fish, veal not so much. Mamma is reluctantly letting son and daughter work the front of the house.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Pappy

      Thanks for reminding me about Crisfield's. I need to get back there.

      1. re: Pappy

        I loved the Crab Imperial at Crisfield's when I lived in Silver Spring. Alas nothing like it on the west Coast.

        1. re: Pappy

          Love the decor at Crisfields - early subway station.

          1. re: Mister Big

            Me too. At the end of the night, they just hose the place down--good to go.

            1. re: flavrmeistr

              That's what Casamento's in New Orleans looks like and does, too. Easy peasy.

        2. There are a few time capsule places left in NoVa, but some are bars/ diners that do not serve anything remotely good. The one exception is the Pan Am Family Restaurant in Fairfax located in a strip mall. I don't know how long it's been there or if it qualifies.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Steve

            Great for breakfast and their pizza is actually pretty good. need to get back there myself.

            1. re: Dennis S

              I enthusiastically recommend the open-faced roast beef sandwich at Pan Am.

          2. Some of these are sort of far afield, but they've hardly changed a lick:

            Beenie Weenie-Alexandria
            The Alpine-Arlington (might not have made it)
            Barbara Fritchie Diner-Frederick
            The Broiler-Arlington
            The Quarterdeck-Arlington
            Tastee Diner-Laurel
            Post Pub-DC
            Steak and Egg Kitchen-DC
            Harry's Bar-DC
            Horace and Dickie's-DC
            City Deli-DC
            Hank Dietl's-Rockville
            Hershey's-Washington Grove
            Frost Diner-Warrenton
            The Golden Bull-Gaithersburg

            7 Replies
            1. re: flavrmeistr

              BW for sure. Also glad to see Frost Diner again (haven't been in a while). On that list, Hi-Neighbor in Strasburg would also fit.

              For the OP's reqs I'd add CF Folks, Fla Ave Grill, and Jimmy's in Herndon (the latter is only a couple of decades old).

              1. re: flavrmeistr

                More laundry list places:
                Jay's Saloon
                Arlington Diner
                Fairfax Inn
                Waffle Shop

                1. re: Steve

                  Good God yes, the JV! Last 'tonk standing. Where is the Arlington Diner? Have to include the original Bob and Edith's.

                  1. re: flavrmeistr

                    South Arlington, Glebe Rd. Again, not worth if for the food. In a strip mall.

                    1. re: Steve

                      Might be worth it if they have a halfway decent breakfast. Those places are getting scarce inside the beltway.

                  2. re: Steve

                    Since the original Waffle Shop moved and became the Lincoln House Waffle Shop, they lost a lot of their greasy linoleum charm. The "Wafle Shop" in Del Ray still has it in spades. 

                  3. re: flavrmeistr

                    Flavr, the Alpine closed and was supposed to have been sold to the Liberty Tavern Group, but that was news in June of last year and nothing has been done there since then but an occasional weed whacker to keep the greenery at bay. Not sure what will happen now.
                    But between Thirsty Bernie's decent beer selection and the new Cowboy Cafe ownership, a third tavern would really be interesting in that location. Especially with the new construction of the huge extended stay buildings to the south. That will be a large market for the pubs to cater to.

                  4. I've eaten in all of those except Calvert House, though it's been more than 40 years for any of them. Trio used to be a regular stop after an evening at the Unicorn coffee house on 17th between R and S.

                    For really late night eats, we used to go to a place in Arlington that's no longer there. It was in Rosslyn, near the Hot Shoppes that now has the Key Bridge Marriott on the site, open until 4 AM, then re-opening for breakfast at 6 AM. I can't for the life of me remember the name, but I think that the owner or a principal investor was Mickey Grasso, who played for the Washington Senators in the 1950s. They had the Mickeyburger, and really good shakes, though once when I ordered a chocolate shake with chocolate ice cream, I got a chocolate sundae (with vanilla ice cream). Most of the late night (and maybe all the time) waiters were Indian, studying at Howard University and were still a little shaky with English and wanted something that you couldn't just point to on the menu. Times haven't changed much, have they?

                    I swiped an ash tray from there once, not because it had the name of the restaurant, but because it said PO Visible Lunch. This would have been before 1962 or so.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: MikeR

                      I remember the old Hot Shoppes. A little further up Lee Highway was a raw bar/beer joint that my dad liked. I wish there were still a few of those around.

                    2. The 29 Diner in Fairfax. It's eating in the old tin diner cart, same food. Go for the corned beef hash.