more on breakfast

the scene: it is late. I’m watching — on the television, and out of one eye — “Forbidden Planet,” and I’ve got no idea what’s going on in it. despite the hour, we’re still in hot-as-a-mug territory, and I can’t hear shit over these air conditioners.

a few months ago I noticed a restaurant up by Howard University Hospital that showed some promise as a breakfast spot — or, as much promise that a glance can provide anyway. so today, I went.
this place can be added to the short list of breakfast spots I’ve identified in the city. here’s a brief rundown of them — consider that I’m pretty easy-to-please foodwise, and I’m more impressed by ambiance and price. anyway, you’ve got:

The Capital City Diner, over on Bladensburg Road, which is about a mile from my brother’s house. it’s an honest-to-god silver bullet diner that the owner had trucked down here from New York state. the breakfast menu goes all day, and it’s open for nearly three days straight til the end of the weekends. also: while the coffee is mediocre, the food is good, and only slightly more expensive that it should be. and, bonus: it’s got a slushee machine.
as my brother has noted, the Capital City Diner in a shitty neighborhood without a lot of dining-out options, so success is a testament to how its mere presence is good for the surrounding community. but alas, that doesn’t make it a hidden gem; you’d hope that being out on Bladensburg would allow you to dodge white people bedecked in Wayfarers and the latest fads who hog the few booths with their laptops long after the table has been cleared, but this isn’t the case. if you scrap the wifi, the hipsters won’t come — it’s just like “Field of Dreams” said.

Trio Restaurant, at the corner of 17th and Q streets northwest, has been my go-to breakfast place since moving here. I think that’s because it’s always been sort of a landmark for me, owing to the infrequent late-night car tours I’ve taken with my brother over the years.
this place caters to a slightly different (gayer) crowd, and has a full bar. as such, you’ve got shit like eggs florentine and mimosas on the menu … neither of which I’m particularly drawn to, but I can appreciate all the same. Trio has been at this corner in northwest DC for decades — it’s the kind of fixture that I imagine the Capital City Diner will be in Trinidad if it stays put for a while –and I’m pretty sure some of the waiters there are lifers.
being a professional waiter in a place like Trio means you’re pretty attentive — they hook you up on coffee pretty regularly — and that you also might take your job too seriously — the maitre d’ once yelled at Aarti and made a big show of throwing a water glass into the garbage after the dog drank out of it. but it evens out. I think this place has wifi as well, but that works out okay because they’ve got plenty of seats. so you can take your time and read the paper. or check your email. or read a blog. jesus.

The Diner is not too far from Trio; up on 18th Street in Adams Morgan. it’s a goddamn zoo every time you walk in there. it never closes — which is its main draw — and is always packed. the food’s not bad, judging by the handful of times I’ve been in there. but despite having plenty of real estate, it always feels like its capacity is testing the limits of the city fire code.
this, I think, sucks balls: as mentioned before, the food isn’t bad, but it’s not cheap. that iss a knock. and, I don’t like bumping elbows with some other shlub when I’m trying to focus on the Metro section, and I don’t like being hot because of being in close proximity with too many of my fellow men. DC isn’t really that dense, population speaking, until you walk into a handful of places that make you rub shoulder to shoulder: places like Chinatown, the entire Metro system, and the Diner in Adams Morgan. and that is another knock.

Jimmy T’s Place on East Capitol and 5th Street is where you go, as Spencer said, “if you’ve got a copy of the Sunday paper and a couple of hours to kill.” I put that idea to the test a few months ago, and it worked out pretty well.
Jimmy T’s only takes cash. it’s a very small place, with a small counter and a couple of booths, but there was no line out the door to get in.  the food wasn’t too bad, and the coffee neither. to be fair, though, I’ve only been there the once, so I’m hardly an authority.

and then there was today’s restaurant: Torrie’s at Wilson, up across from Howard University Hospital. it was baking-ass hot this morning when I got there, and I wanted to read the paper so I could find out what the hell was going on in Norway (I didn’t; the Post’s story this morning was surprisingly bad, lacking in detail of what actually happened) and with the debt negotiations. I walked in with the intent to stay a while.  so I sat at the counter and ordered coffee, which the waiter kept refilling.  
this place isn’t going to float everyone’s boat. Torrie’s is a soul food restaurant, and judging by the scores of autographed pictures on the walls, the kind of place you show up to if you want to win a city government election or score a good photo op. I was the only white boy in the building for the hour I was there. the portions were big, the food was cheap, and there was plenty of room to spread out. also of note: they rolled a TV on a stand out in the back dining room so a couple of preschoolers could watch Saturday morning cartoons. legit.

other places I need to try:

Murray and Paul’s, up on 12th Street near Catholic, which I’m sure I would’ve gotten around to by now had I moved to Brookland;
the Florida Avenue Grill, which I find myself skeptical of; and …
I was going to say somewhere like Ted’s Bulletin over on Barracks Row, but I know I’ll hate it so I doubt I’ll ever go. it’ll be too expensive, and too crowded. so: you got any ideas?

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5 comments so far

  1. Spencer on

    When you visit San Francisco, I will take you to Golden Coffee. If you lived here you’d be there daily.

  2. Rasta on

  3. Robert Marella on

  4. mowgli on

    why didn’t you mention cafe st ex… fried green tomato benedict????

  5. […] it was pretty cold when I got off the train in South Bend, and I was underdressed, so I dug through my luggage and layered up. my uncle picked me up at the station half an hour later, and on the way home we stopped for breakfast at a Greek diner on US 20. goddamn, but do I love breakfast. […]


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