Diner for City Council?
This is about as close to roadstop grubby greasy goodness as Connecticut Ave. is gonna get: American City Diner. Every night at 8pm they show classic movies on their heated, covered back patio deck attached to the diner. For free! When's the last time you really had dinner and a movie with the one you love?
The wall facing a small parking lot outside is painted with a mural highlighting American legends like Elvis and Marilyn. And to add to the whimsical appeal, the retro-looking owner Jeffrey Gildenhorn is running for Ward 3 yet again. By the looks of the indoor decor, you would guess he's won before. "Gildenhorn for Mayor" signs are more prevalent than old-fashioned Coke ads or Blue Plate Specials. No joke, they exist. (the Blue Plate Specials that is, not his Mayor election)
Thursday calls for a Corned Beef and Cabbage at just $8.95. Monday's Brisket of Beef ($8.95) caught my eye. Actually, they're all just $8.95 except Friday's big hitter-- the Crab Cake Platter with Fries and Coleslaw ($15.95).
If the Blue Plate Special is just a little too 1950s throw-back for you, their wide selection of deli sandwiches and burgers are pretty decent for diner standards. The pulled Bar-B-Que Chicken sandwich is my favorite ($5.50) and the Black-and-White shake can be hard to come by in the District. Insert: No Jewish Delis in DC! here.
But back to the daily movies. I tried calling for a schedule since their website is never actually insync with the current week, but the groggy eighty-something on the other line had one too many chicken tender requests to spare me a few seconds. Clearly throwing up her menus in a frustrated senior rage, she rushed through the list insensitively, before hanging up on me. Here's what I got:
Dec 22: It's a Wonderful Life
Sometime between Dec 23 and Dec 28: A Bronx Tale
Dec 29: The Graduate
Dec 30: Rebel Without A Cause
Dec 31: The Godfather
Note: the accuracy of each is not up to journalistic standards. Call at your own risk.
Actually, I did call back for the hours of operation (strangely, they were not mentioned on the website) attempting to disguise my young, boppy voice. But immediately Granny knew. "Ma'am, I don't have time for you and your questions anymore. Call back some other time!" Click.
This is what I gathered: Normal weekday hours are 7am-11pm and weekends are 24 hours. This Sunday--the first night of Christmas, Hannukah and sure, why not Kwanzaa-- the diner is open until 4pm.
With festive good tidings I'm sure. (Not!) Granny wouldn't have any of that.
The theme here is definitely old-school nostalgic. Gildenhorn first opened the diner after graduating from Georgetown with Clinton in the 60s-- their class pictures are framed wistfully near the door. Along with his "Gildenhorn for Mayor" bumper stickers, circa 1998. My advice is that Gildenhorn stick to flipping burgers and hiring post-menopausal waitresses because Ward 3 is making way for someone a little less creepy-looking. Sam Brooks.
Brooks is bounding with enthusiasm and among education policy and a brand-new Idea Blog, he enjoys the shakes at Elevation Burger. One afternoon he even traveled out to Falls Church just to down two in one sitting. Young burger joint making waves, young voice of the future changing DC? Coincidence?
But the time-warped ambiance of American City Diner is still sitting pretty on Connecticut Ave-- thePacMan video games, Blue Plate Specials and cranky grannies aren't going anywhere. The ambiance is fitting for watching backyard patio movies in pigtails and sipping Black and White shakes, but maybe not for DC Ward 3 City Council ballots.
The American City Diner is located at 5532 Connecticut Avenue, NW, next to french neighbors Bread and Chocolate.
Other diners in the DC-area include:
2453 18th St NW, Washington, DC
8601 Cameron Street
Silver Spring, MD 20910
7731 Woodmont Avenue
Bethesda, MD 20814
118 Washington Boulevard South
Laurel, MD 20707