The only thing more daunting then the simple question “What’s for dinner?” is the more complicated “Where should we eat?” Finding a restaurant that offers a stress-free dining experience (think picky-eater-approved menu options and a low-key atmosphere) can be challenging. Luckily, diners—those greasy spoons beloved for generations—check off all the boxes. Here are 10 of our favorite places to cuddle up in a booth in the DMV.
photo credit: Patrick M. via Yelp
This 1940s-style diner, not to be confused with Metro 29 Diner, was established in 1947 and is open 24 hours, except Monday, when it was closed. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1992, the diner offers brown gravy fries, meatloaf, barbecue and traditional breakfast items. The kids menu has pancakes, French toast, spaghetti and grilled cheese, and includes a drink. Save room for a slice of or an orange soda float.
Where: 10536 Fairfax Blvd., Fairfax
photo credit: Tom M. via Yelp
Metro 29 Diner
If it’s good enough for “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” host Guy Fieri and former Vice President and current presidential hopeful Joe Biden, it’s good enough for your family. The menu is extensive with small “munchies,” meats from the carving board, triple-decker sandwiches and specials such as franks and beans. A kids menu for the 12 and under set has eight animal-named dishes that include Jello, chocolate pudding, ice cream or chocolate chip cookies and milk or soda. Examples include the Monkey, a char-broiled burger, the Zebra, a fried flounder filet and the Bear, which is chicken fingers.
Where: 4711 Lee Highway, Arlington
photo credit: Domingo O. via Yelp
Lincoln’s Waffle Shop
We don’t know if Lincoln was a huge waffle fan, but across from Ford’s Theatre, where he was shot, and next to Peterson House, where he died, sits this eatery. A family-run business since 1990, it serves specials such as country fried steak, banana pancakes and sloppy joes. Grab a bite early. It opens at 5:30 a.m. and closes at 3 p.m. on weekends, 4:30 p.m. weekdays.
Where: 504 10th St., NW
photo credit: Austin G. via Yelp
This small diner has welcomed some big names. For instance, former Speaker of the House John Boehner has been spotted there many a morning. Washington DC Eater describes it as a “come-as-you-are favorite for Hill staffers. It also makes a mean bulgogi.” It’s a muffin’s throw from the Library of Congress so stop here for a bite before or after a dose of culture at the world’s biggest library.
Where: 212 2nd Place, SE
Online: No website
photo credit: Ivan S. via Yelp
Bob and Edith’s Diner
With four locations in Northern Virginia, this diner serves standard diner fare such as steak, eggs, sausage, scrapple, hot cakes and omelets at either the counter or a table. Entrees such as country fried steak, liver and onions, and a fish platter are available, too.
Where: 5918 N. Kings Highway, Alexandria; 2310 Columbia Pike, Arlington; 539 S. 23rd S., Arlington; 6316 Springfield Plaza, Springfield
photo credit: Bruce K via Yelp
Scrambling eggs since 1935, this diner has three locations throughout Maryland, two of which – Laurel and Silver Spring – serve beer and wine. Open round-the-clock, the diners have jukeboxes and televisions to keep younger ears and eyes entertained. To fill mouths, check the daily blue plate specials such as the crab cake platter on Wednesdays at the Bethesda location. Bonus: Kids eat free from 5-8 on weeknights. Choices include a Wacky Waffle, Might Mini Pancakes and Tastee Tenders.
Where: 7731 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda; 118 Washington Blvd. S., Laurel; 8601 Cameron St., Silver Spring
photo credit: Gerry N. via Yelp
This Falls Church eatery offers a variety of Greek and Italian dishes, such as gyros and chicken parmesan subs, but also American plates such as broiled rainbow trout, biscuits and sausage, and egg sandwiches. Kids can choose from a cheese, ham or bacon omelet; French toast; pancakes; or eggs – each served with a soft drink for $6.95
Where: 5616 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church
photo credit: Alyssa R. via Yelp
Gotta love a succinct name. Describing itself as a modern diner with old-school appeal, this round-the-clock eatery offers breakfast faves such as diner hash and steel-cut oats, plus entrees like jambalaya and fish tacos. Situated in the heart of Adams Morgan, The Diner is pretty close to the Smithsonian National Zoological Park.
Where: 2453 18th St., NW
photo credit: Mike D. via Yelp
Not just the name of a Susanne Vega song, Tom’s Diner has been literally catering to the Manassas area for 25 years. Its extensive menu includes two kids menus: one for breakfast and one for lunch and dinner. Grownups can expect the staple diner delicacies such as omelets, country fried steak and pancakes. Kiddos 12 and younger will likely gravitate toward burgers, pancakes or French toast.
Where: 9003 Centreville Road, Manassas
photo credit: Silver Diner via Yelp
This chain has 14 locations and one coming in Maryland and Virginia. The head chef works with area farms to provide locally sourced menu items, and the menu includes calorie and fat measurements to help diners eat cleanly – if they want to. The kids menu has the typical stuff but some unexpected items such as gluten-free coconut French toast, roasted chicken pot pie and a salmon quinoa bowl. There’s also a Kids Club through which members earn points toward rewards for free food and get invited quarterly member-only events.
Where: See website