American City Diner: Washington, DC
"Thanks to American City Diner for restoring my faith that outstanding diner food is still out there."
Visiting American City Diner on the outskirts of Washington, DC, near the Maryland border, is like walking into Guy Fieri's dreams. I'm actually shocked this place has yet to be visited by "Triple D". Dripping with 50's nostalgia (chrome, neon, and a mind blowing giant mural of James Dean, Sammy Davis Jr, Elvis, and Marilyn Monroe chowing down on ice cream and spaghetti) you might be surprised to learn that this place was built in the late 80's, and isn't even a real dining car.
That said, it's anything but the cheesy tourist trap you might expect. Walls jammed with 50's bric-a-brac and teeming with customers 24 hours a day, American City Diner fends off obnoxious customers with signs that warn you not to bother the cooks in the open kitchen. Our waiter was friendly, despite the giant "No Whining" sign on his uniform. Some people are put off with eating establishments known for a "signature rudeness," but to me it's usually a sign of really good food.
The Reuben, piled with thick cut, house-made corned beef—billed as "the best corned beef south of New York City"—was better than you would expect from a diner, and even better than some delis. Perfectly golden brown rye with a great balance of meat, kraut, cheese and dressing, and that amazing corned beef that just melts in your mouth. I would bet that the corned beef hash and Thursday night corned beef & cabbage special is worth checking out as well.
Fresh ground, hand-formed patties grilled to a nice char: the 1/2 pound burgers are also a few steps above what you would ever expect from a diner. Bags and bags of sesame seed buns are stacked up next to the grill, one that looks to crank out quite a few of these around the clock.
Along with burgers & corned beef, American City Diner is known for their big breakfasts—creamed chipped beef, biscuits and gravy, two pork chops with eggs—along with their classic entrees and extensive menu of milkshakes, malts, and ice cream sodas.
American City Diner also shows free movies on the patio every night at 8:30, everything from Breakfast at Tiffany's to Silence of The Lambs.
I've actually been pretty disappointed by diners lately. In my home state of Pennsylvania and nearby New Jersey, the streets are practically lined with historical diners, but these days most of them (with the exception of a few gems, mostly way out in the country) are serving something along the lines of cafeteria food. So thanks to American City Diner for restoring my faith that outstanding diner food is still out there.