Friday Question of the Day – What’s Your Favorite Old School Restaurant? (reader request)

Photo by PoPville flickr user Caroline Angelo

“Dear PoPville,

Going off the “Rib Pit” lament – What “old DC” restaurants–aka ones that predate the change in neighborhoods like Petworth–are worth going into?”

A few years ago we talked about the old school restaurants we most missed. And we took a crack at some of our current old school favorites last year. So for today – what old school restaurants do you think are most overlooked? Nevermind price, could be a carryout or fine dining, which old school restaurant/shop is the absolute best in DC?

105 Comment

  • Vace in Cleveland Park

  • justinbc

    Hrmm, this is a tough one, depending on how old school you want to go.

    Have always been a fan of Oohhs and Aahhs, even though it often comes with a side of attitude. Hitching Post for a similar type of food, with monumental portions.
    Adam Express for outstanding, affordable Korean.
    Granville Moore’s has only been around since 2007, but it was one of the first businesses I can recall trying to shift the nature of H Street (while still preserving a lot of character).

  • A litteri is a great choice for this, but I think Fish in the Hood is also amazing.

  • Gotta vote for Horace and Dickie’s.

  • Sweet Mango’s in Petworth. Best jerk outside of the caribbean.

    • +1

      Also, Fish in the “Hood

    • Sweet Mango is awesome.

    • Prince Of Petworth

      It’s funny to think of Sweet Mango as old school. I think it’s like 7 or 8 years old.

      • According to their facebook page, Sweet Mango has been open since 1988. I know they have been there since I moved in down the street in 2004.

        • Prince Of Petworth

          Maybe they had a different location first because I remember when they opened up and I only moved to Petworth in 2003.

          • They were re-opening after a fire. That was the summer I remodeled my kitchen, and I was bummed they wouldn’t be able to supply me with dinner while my own kitchen was off-line. (They’ve also closed for a shooting incident and another fire since then.)

  • When we lived in Takoma, we loved going to Mark’s Kitchen. Great vegetarian selection and super friendly service.

    • Agreed! Love this place. One of my most favorite restaurants in DC metro area.
      I’d happily trek over to Takoma Park from Capitol Hill anytime! Not even metro’s weekend single-tracking schedule in the heat of the summer would stop me. Delicious. And such happy people.

  • Great Question! Ok some true old timers:
    Jam Doung Style in Bloomingdale on N. Capitol…esp. the Oxtail soup
    Mr. P’s Ribs and Fish ..great BBQ (based out of a bus in the parking lot of the former Safeway off of Rhode Island NE)
    Florida Ave Grill for ole school diner
    A. Litteri for subs
    I still mourn the loss of the Loeb’s Perfect NY Deli on Vt next to the White House. The new Loebs looks like a MacDonalds…still got good food though…esp. Walters Favorite.
    All of course heart attack food.

  • My favorite old school restaurant is Billy Martin’s Tavern in Georgetown.
    Nothing screams DC to me like this place. it’s been around since the 30’s and has passed from generation to generation.
    In it’s current iteration, you can go there any time of day or night and see a Bachelor party, a few politicians, some business people, and some Georgetown students all sitting in the same tiny dining room enjoying hearty, house-made food.
    I love this place.

  • Bistro Italiano has a white pizza that’s close to AV’s. Old Europe for the atmosphere and beer, but not the food. Same for Mrs. K’s Toll House. Italian Inn for cozy booths and Ledo’s-like pizza. Lincoln House Waffle Shop for greasy breakfasts as well as the Royal in Old Town. Prime Rib for the ancient lawyers and their forty-something trophy wives. Also prime rib. Peking Duck for Peking duck. Mangialardo’s for carryout sandwiches. Raw bar at Old Ebbitt. Pasta and a bottle of cheap red at Famous Luigi’s.

    • And Deli City for unpretentious bluecollar diner fare. Also killer corned beef.

    • I dream of that white pizza: out on the patio, wondering who stole Neptune’s trident (again!), listening to wisps of classical from the monstrous juke box inside. Then going in to the back bar and ordering a shot from a bartender who could not care that I was fifteen.

  • Old Europe in Woodley Park.

  • Mine was Hausner’s in Baltimore, but it’s long gone. ๐Ÿ™

  • Deli City FTW!

  • Mathews Pizza in Highlandtown Baltimore

  • Li Ho Food Restaurant in Chinatown.
    Viceno’s in Silver Spring almost counts, it’s right over the border.

  • Cafe Mozart. It’s like a time warp to the 1970s after you walk through the grocery part and back into the restaurant. The beer is great–three german styles on tap and the food is pretty good too. Complimentary salty snacks at the bar. It’s also a good spot for breakfast or brunch on a Saturday or Sunday.

  • njb510

    Pines of Rome in Bethesda for their white pizza and wine served in water glasses.

  • Kenny’s BBQ on Maryland in NE and Florida Ave Grill.

  • Las Placitas on Barracks Row pre-dates all of that development and is still awesome for El Salvadorean & Mexican. Also, best margaritas in the city, especially their 1/2 pitchers 4-7 M-Th.

    Otello just south of Dupont Circle is still a great hole in the wall for affordable, quiet, family run Italian.

  • Adam Express

  • Weenie Beenie!!

  • Simple cold cut sub – Carl’s on Rhode Island NE. Not sure how long its been around, but went about 8 years ago and seemed to have been there a while

  • Smokey’s at 14th & Crittenden has the best fried chicken and mambo sauce in DC. Period. And Steak & Egg at Wisconsin & Chesapeake is the best diner around.

    • Oh god. I got food poisoning from effing PANCAKES at Steak and Egg. I know this because my boyfriend and friend, both of whom grew up in NWDC, ate the same thing at the same time and were absolutely fine. They’ve eaten their for years; they must have immunity by now.

      • AGH. “There,” not “their.”

      • Wait, they ate pancakes too? Or they both ate the same thing and it was something other than pancakes?
        If they ate pancakes and didn’t get sick, wouldn’t it suggest that it was something other than the pancakes that made you sick (say, your drink)? Or that whatever made you sick was in your batch but not theirs?
        I’m not sure I buy the idea that one can get “immunity” to food that would ordinarily result in food poisoning by building up a tolerance to it

  • I feel like we’ve done this before and it starts craziness of what’s considered “old school”… that said, I vote Crisfields Silver Spring… will always be my favourite “old school” restaurant, because I am OLD. Old enough to remember eating there as a wee one…

  • Fish in the (Neighbor)hood. Great crabcake and it’s always fun getting into a long conversation with Bill. Last time he pulled out a binder with pictures of his house and showed me the renovation process he just went through.

  • orderedchaos

    SushiKo (1976 — sad to see you go, Glover Park location)
    Hard Times Cafe
    i Ricchi (25th anniversary)
    Little Fountain

    I’d include Marcel’s but they’re only 14 — no underage restaurants allowed. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Definitely agree with others’ mentions of Steak & Egg, Old Europe, Vace Italian Deli.

  • so many of the old school places are just sentimental junk food for me. they mainly use sysco products and white bread. all things meant for you to eat, but are actually killing you.

  • Bistro Francais

  • Murray and Paul’s (brookland). Best diner in DC, it blows Florida ave off the map. Prices – low, portions – huge, spoons – guhuhuhreeesey!!!!! xoxoxo

  • Hmm… Cafe Mozart has been around since the early ’80s (and before that there was the German Deli owned by the same person) and I always think of their spaetzli and goulash

    – Horace and Dickie’s has been around since 1989 although it seems like it’s been there forever, doesn’t it? Fish fry heaven.

    – Luigi’s has been on 19th Street since 1944 (although Luigi Calvi himself died in 1963) and I really like their red sauce and tortellini soup.

    – Florida Avenue Grill’s also been around since 1944. It keeps getting more expensive there but the breakfast continues to be worth it.

    – There’s only one Mr. Henry’s left, the one that’s been on the Hill since 1965, but I’m glad it’s still around for the ambience and memories. (There used to be several Mr. Henry’s locations all over the DC area.) Too bad Henry Yaffe himself left us in 2006.

  • Colorado Kitchen… not a day goes by that I don’t miss that place.

  • jim_ed

    – Tony’s Place on Kennedy St for breakfast. Their mambo sauce is spicier than most, fantastic on eggs.
    – Levi’s Port Cafe on Barracks Row for Fried Chicken and Greens.
    – Mario’s Pizza house in Arlington for 3 am cheeseteaks. (never order the pizza!)

  • Jaleo in Penn Quarter and Meskerem in Adams Morgan. Although both have gone downhill since the 80s.

  • Trio’s on 17th St. Best dive with food and sass

  • Greek Deli my friend.

  • La Fourchette in Adams Morgan. so old it appears in “St Elmo’s Fire”!!

    • Oh really? Awesome.

    • I love that place. Pierre and Jackie are wonderful owners and hosts. I wish I could replicate their vinaigrette.

    • Yep, La Forchette is mine too. So many great memories here! Whatever has Aioli or buerre blanc is as good as it gets. I also miss when Adams Morgan was less bars and more about food, but ….moves on!

  • MGM Roast Beef. I love it when I need to go to the scooter shop to buy parts; always an excuse to pop into MGM for a ridiculous sandwich and a beer at their awesome lunch counter.

    • Oh god yes. I don’t know how old that place is, but their sandwiches are the best I’ve ever had.

    • Great spot, but definitely NOT eligible for this particular question. They are less than 7 years old.

      • Seriously less than 3 years old. I remember when they opened and being disappointed after 3 tries.

  • Still operating:



    Tom Sarris’ Orleans House and Ristorante A/V

    • Oh, Annie’s, before they redid their menu sometime around 2009.

    • I’m pretty sure that when my father retired from the federal government (about 20 years ago) they had his retirement party at Tom Sarrisโ€™. I completely forgot about that place until over ten years later when I had a temp job in Rosslyn.

  • Dupont Italian Kitchen and Trios!

  • Jenny’s Asian in SW. It’s weird and wonderful.

  • Sumah’s on 7th in Shaw. Authentic “Salone” cuisine!

  • brookland_rez

    I like Armand’s Pizza, specifically the lunch buffet at the Capitol Hill location.

  • I used to love Burrito Brothers when they opened up and had locations in Dupont Circle and Admo…

  • The Raven. I eat beer for dinner.

  • The Tune Inn and El Tamarindo!!!

  • And Annie’s Paramount steak house, Clyde’s Georgetown….

Comments are closed.