May 26, 2013 § Leave a comment
How have I never come across Patricia’s before? This homey, greasy spoon diner has a familiar feel – like something you would see in a movie or TV sitcom. The menu is simple; breakfast staples such as pancakes, eggs, and toast. I went there for breakfast one morning with a friend during commencement weekend, and we saw a bunch of families enjoying food there. It must be somewhat of a tradition for folks, and the restaurant was bustling at about 10 in the morning.
The food is cheap and fast – I ordered two eggs over easy and toast, alongside a cup of coffee. The whole meal came to about $5. Apparently Patricia’s only serves eggs fried in different ways (scrambled, sunnyside up, etc), so they couldn’t fulfill my cravings for poached eggs. That’s okay – over easy it is!
Our meals arrived promptly. It’s actually difficult to eat over easy eggs, because the yolk (the best part) is so runny that it just spills all over the plate once you begin to eat the egg. The toast was your requisite white bread, lightly toasted and smeared with butter. Though the food was plain and simple, the whole experience felt old-fashioned, warm and comforting.
July 29, 2012 § Leave a comment
Ben’s Chili Bowl is a D.C. icon. It’s a greasy, no-frills diner that specializes in hot dogs and chili, but some of its most famous patrons include Bill Cosby and Barack Obama. Indeed, these two distinguished figures are the only guests allowed to eat for free, proclaims a sign next to the menu board.
My friend and I ventured up to U Street on a muggy summer evening to experience the legendary food in its original location. When we arrived at around 7PM, there was a long line at the counter. We studied our menu options and observed the sizzling hot dogs as we waited for our turn to order. Most reviews say that you have to try the original chili half-smoke, which is a half-beef and half-pork sausage on a hotdog bun, topped with mustard, onions, and the famous chili. They also serve burgers, fries, and some vegetarian options as well.
I decided to go for the half-smoke. We got our food at the counter and went into the back seating area to eat. The establishment is a bit crowdy and messy, but then again we didn’t come here for the fine dining experience. The food was deliciously messy and greasy. The sausage had a great bite to it. It was meaty and I could only detect a little bit of spice. The chili was a bit spicy and had a runny consistency. The chili used to top the dogs doesn’t contain beans as does the chili you get when you order a bowl.
The half-smoke cost $5.70, a bit pricey for a small hot dog, but I guess it’s worth it for the experience. Plus they give you a side of ruffled chips! The service was terrific, unexpected for a place with only counter service. The employees are very helpful and one asked me if I would like a refill of my soda as I was walking out the door.
Ben’s Chili Bowl is such a local legend that one simply has to visit in order to have a complete culinary tour of D.C. There is a lot of history behind the place and its role during the Civil Rights movement. I don’t think I’ll come back again, just because it’s a little out of the way from Foggy Bottom, but I’m definitely glad to have checked an item off my bucket list! And I can’t deny that sometimes a hearty, greasy, fulfilling meal is just what is needed.
May 28, 2012 § Leave a comment
It was difficult to find a place for dinner on Memorial Day! We wandered around the college campus but many restaurants were closed. There was one that did not have air conditioning. Finally, we discovered that a Johnny Rockets was open. It is a 1950s style diner, with a menu full of classics such as milkshakes, burgers, and fries.
I decided to get the “Streamliner,” which is a vegetarian burger made with a Boca patty. It also includes grilled onions, lettuce, mustard, and pickles. I realize that this is probably not the standard order of someone who wants to go to a Johnny Rockets but if you are vegetarian/vegan/health conscious, this is a good choice. It comes with a side of fries or salad, at $7.59.
If you’ve ever had a Boca patty, that’s basically what this burger tastes like. It is made of soy protein and has a pretty generic taste and a meaty texture. With the mustard, onions, pickles, and some ketchup, it can almost pass as a real burger. The bun was a generous size and it was lightly toasted, maybe with a bit of butter (vegans beware!), giving it a slight crunch.
So don’t rush to Johnny Rockets to get this burger, but it’s an acceptable meal if you are in the situation. Kudos to the restaurant for catering to people with dietary restrictions. Alternatively, vegetarians could also order a grilled cheese.