Five restaurants that time (almost) forgot.
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.
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.
Some of these are sort of far afield, but they've hardly changed a lick:
The Alpine-Arlington (might not have made it)
Barbara Fritchie Diner-Frederick
Steak and Egg Kitchen-DC
Horace and Dickie's-DC
The Golden Bull-Gaithersburg
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.
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.
i am not a reliable source about WA DC but i just have to say l like your OP words about "basic food like hotdogs or schnitzel"
for some reason, that struck me as funny - I don't mean to offend.
i'd have to say our basic foods come from a prairie, a wok, a bbq, or involve yorkshire pudding
we are blended culture family - that's north america.
we like unpretentious restaurants
thank you for making that point.