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ABC Canteen - The Washington DC Area's Best Fish and Chips and Tacos with Fresh Tortillas in the Former Arthur Treacher's Space in Fairfax Circle - Closed


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I will accept your thanks in advance as I am now full and can't breath.  I caught wind of this place on the cesspool that is Fairfax Underground and decided to check it out on my way back from DC today.

The old Fairfax institution Arthur Treacher''s has gone the way of the dinosaur.  Gone are the days of frozen deep fried fish and chips.  Instead lets say hello to the days of fresh deep fried fish and chips.  I showed up at 1 this afternoon and there were about 5 tables filled.  Since this was a scouting mission, I jumped on the grenade and over-ordered.  See the things I do for this community?

Fish and Chips - Fries - a solid 6, but nothing special.  The fish.  A solid 8 +.  Light batter and the fish was fresh and firm (that's what she said...)  They use Cod.  Tarter Sauce is homemade and good.

Hushpuppies - two gripes - they should throw a couple of these in an order of fish and chips.  Also, these would be better with some kind of butter or honey butter which was not offered.  Regardless, I got the appetizer and they were actually good.  Crispy, fluffy and not greasy.

Of course, they sell tacos so I got two of those.  Come on.  I dare you to name a single fish and chips joint that does not also sell authentic mexican street tacos....  Anyways, I had the Carnitas and Barbacoa.  Both were actually very good and the fresh tortillas were nice as well. The Carnitas had a good flavor and were not dry.  The Barbacoa was spicy and tender.  They also do chicken, chorizo and fish.

Now I am full thanks to you guys.  I would write more but I am going to hit the treadmill to see if I can regain some of my self esteem.  In the meantime, if you are in the area and need a cheap lunch - skip Chipotle and check them out.  When I go back, I don't know what I will get because everything I ordered was a standout.

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Thanks to ulrath's post, I stopped by for lunch today. Since I thought my wife would like me to bring lunch home, I ordered enough for two. As it turns out, she wasn't going to be home, so I ordered way too much food, but got to sample a variety of items.

I'd rate the fish at least a 9, particularly since this is a fast casual (I don't really like that term) restaurant. The fish was perfectly cooked, fresh, and quite delicious. The fries were cooked properly, but unremarkable.

Coincidentally, I ordered a barbacoa taco and a carnitas taco. Both were ample portions, and I agree that the fresh corn tortillas were tasty.

I also ordered a chicken mole tamale, which was obviously house made. It could have used a bit more seasoning, but it was also satisfying.

The lady running the register was incredibly friendly and helpful, and the restaurant was very clean and modern looking inside. Great to see a promising new spot in the area.

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Please note this message on their website:

Please do not buy any gift cards for ABC Canteen from any website.  

We have not issued any gift cards and we are not working with any websites on sales of gift cards for ABC Canteen  

We have seen offers of fraudulent gift cards for our restaurant and we have no idea who these companies are.  

We cannot and will not honor these fraudulent gift cards.

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My daughter and I stopped by ABC Canteen for dinner last week after a not-as-bad-as-I-thought-it-would-be orientation session at college.  It was during one of the many recent downpours we've been experiencing, so I expected the place to be slow.  We found it completely empty at 6:30PM!  With some trepidation, we decided to go in and order anyway.  It was a great decision.  We over ordered and brought home stuff to reheat the next day.

The owner (I think) talked to us a bit and told us he had been opened for about three months. He also told us that the tortilla are hand made with every taco order, which meant I had to order them.  The salsa bar was right next to the register and had a nice selection.  In addition to great salsa fresca, they had several different heat level salsas as well as cilantro, lime and some other toppings.

Here's what we got:

Fish and Chips.  As mentioned above, the fish is outstanding, but the fries are nothing special.  You can just order fish by the piece, which I might do next time we go.

Fish Taco.  Wonderful fish and a good tortilla..  I moved here from SoCal, so I'm used to getting cabbage and a white sauce on the taco.  This one comes completely plain and there is a salsa bar to dress it yourself.  Still would have liked some cabbage though.

Carnitas Taco.  Very moist and tasty pork with a good tortilla.  Once again it was served plain and you dress it at the salsa bar.

Tamale - Pork with green sauce.  This was my least favorite item, but it was still one of the better tamales I've had in this area.  The pork was good but the masa was a little dry and I couldn't find any evidence of a green sauce.  I grabbed hot salsa from the salsa bar to doctor it up, but it was actually too hot for me!  I'm a ghost pepper kinda gal, so that is saying a lot.

Hushpuppies.  They were good, about 10 large ones in the order.  As mentioned above, they were fluffy and not greasy at all, but some type of a honey butter would have been a welcomed addition.

Flautas.  This one I didn't get to try.  We got them to go and they came in a large container covered with lettuce, sour cream, and salsa.  My daughter heated them up the next day and said they were good.  Not as good as the rolled tacos we got almost every day in Cali the beginning of July, but she said she would order them again.

Overall, my daughter and I really like this place and are planning a return visit.  I hope business starts to pick up for them soon and they stay around.  We can really use more places like this in this part of Fairfax County.

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My wife and I had the pleasure of eating lunch here yesterday. The summary is - we'll be back! She had the flautas app as a meal, and it was. It's essentially a big salad with five flautas underneath. She enjoyed it; I'm glad it wasn't my meal, but it wasn't bad. Thankfully, as mentioned above, there are a selection of salsas, jalapeí±o, radish, and pico de gallo at the bar. I had the three taco combo - chicken (marinated thigh), chorizo and carnitas. There were all terrific, with a tasty tortilla. My faves were the chicken and chorizo, both of which were very flavorful.

The hush puppies took me back to South Carolina. I've been looking for puppies like these for a long time. Light texture, strong corn flavor, great crunch, not too greasy but just right. Personally, no condiments were needed or desired for my tastes, but I've always preferred plain puppies.

I think their new sign arrived as we were leaving, so the sketchiness factor will be seriously diminished. The place is spotless inside and they have 2-3 outdoor tables, too. It must've taken them days of cleaning to scrape the scunge that covered the floor, walls and ceiling when Authur Treacher's lived here. The gentleman (seemed like an owner/manager) at the register was terrific. There was a group of ladies gathering for a birthday get-together who walked in singing "we're baaaack". I can see why.

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Went back for a return visit.  The owner took my order and asked how I learned about the place.  I said I had been here before and liked it so much I left a review about it.  When I told him where he started quoting my review at the top of the thread.  That was pretty cool.

The fish was still great.  The tacos were still great.  The fries were different from last time.  This time they were shoestring potatoes more reminiscent of McDonalds (Back when the fries were good).  A nice improvement.  If you have not been here yet, you are missing out.

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I will give this place a try this weekend.  Too bad I didn't read it earlier, I was in the vicinity and would have swung by to pick up a tamale.  I am a big fan of Guatemalan tamales, since mcbriden says they are dry I assume not Guatemalan, but never had a chicken mole tamale before.

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The owner and I actually talked about the tamales.  He does them in small batches and when they are out, they are out.  He and I both agree that most tamales served in restaurants just are not very good.  I almost bought one on the spot to try it out but I couldn't even finish the fish and chips.  

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Are the puppies white or yellow? I mean, I'm going to make a visit regardless, but I do crave some nice white puppies. My understanding is that there isn't much, if any, difference between white and yellow corn meal, yet I always prefer the taste of white puppies. Maybe it's psychological or maybe it's just a coincidence that white ones tend to include other ingredients that I prefer.

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Are the puppies white or yellow? I mean, I'm going to make a visit regardless, but I do crave some nice white puppies. My understanding is that there isn't much, if any, difference between white and yellow corn meal, yet I always prefer the taste of white puppies. Maybe it's psychological or maybe it's just a coincidence that white ones tend to include other ingredients that I prefer.

White hush puppies?!?! What the hell kind of abomination is this?!?! Never in my years of growing up in the Carolinas, mostly South, did I ever come across a white frikkin' hush puppy! I. Just. Can't. Even.

Sorry, I can be reasonable now that the bile is out. They're yellow hush puppies...as they damn well should be! ;-)

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I think their new sign arrived as we were leaving, so the sketchiness factor will be seriously diminished.

At least as of a week and a half ago, the new sign wasn't up, yet. The truck I saw was removing the Arthur Treacher's lantern from the signpost.

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White hush puppies?!?! What the hell kind of abomination is this?!?! Never in my years of growing up in the Carolinas, mostly South, did I ever come across a white frikkin' hush puppy! I. Just. Can't. Even.

Sorry, I can be reasonable now that the bile is out. They're yellow hush puppies...as they damn well should be! ;-)

Most of my extended family is in middle TN and I grew up eating white hush puppies when I visited. My 2 minutes of Google research today led me to believe that white is a southern thing and yellow is what the rest of the country does, so a bit surprised to hear your NC roots gave you the yellow experience. I guess that's just how you were raised. You can overcome!

I will hopefully find out this week if I approve of ABC's yellow puppies.

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Went back for a return visit.  The owner took my order and asked how I learned about the place.  I said I had been here before and liked it so much I left a review about it.  When I told him where he started quoting my review at the top of the thread.  That was pretty cool.

The fish was still great.  The tacos were still great.  The fries were different from last time.  This time they were shoestring potatoes more reminiscent of McDonalds (Back when the fries were good).  A nice improvement.  If you have not been here yet, you are missing out.

You all are getting the attention of ABC Canteen.

To the owners: I hope you'll come join our little band of culinary mavericks - we're a friendly, educated bunch that respects both restaurants and each other. Having you here would be a plus-plus-plus for us, for you, and for our readership.

Honestly, when I read your tweet, I felt like a proud parent, even though this is hardly a parent-child relationship - we're all equals here. It would be wonderful to have access to you here in case someone has questions about what they should order (okay, okay, I'm being selfish - *I* would love your opinion of the menu items you're most proud of). :)

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The hush puppies are yellow because we use self rising corn meal and I've only been able to find it in a yellow cornmeal.  We could make it ourselves with white cornmeal, but I just don't have the brain cells or the patience to try to calculate the correct  portions  for baking powder and salt.  The recipes online did not work well.  I truly believe that cooking is an art and baking is a science.

I'm happy to hear you are enjoying the hush puppies regardless of their color.

If anyone have a recipe for self rising white cornmeal, I would love to try it.

Be well and Enjoy!

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I enjoyed these lightly yellow beauties today and took a pic to let you all choose whether they're yellow or white. From the boss, I hear they're yellow...and they're delicious! No ketchup. No honey butter. Perfectly salted. Perfectly GBD. Oh, and the tamales are fantastic!

post-6926-0-04547400-1440728513_thumb.jp

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On DrXmus's recommendation, my wife and I stopped in to ABC Canteen for lunch today.  Our experience was consistent with what others have posted, including talking to the owner about the tortillas and tamales (and this board).

We each went for the three taco combination, each getting the fish and carnitas.  Both very good, the pork tender and flavorful and the fish really nicely fried (although like noted above I wouldn't have minded some cabbage on it).  I really enjoyed my chorizo taco, with good spice even without any toppings.  My wife enjoyed the barbacoa taco but found it a little stringy.  The tortillas were very good on all, light but strong enough to hold all of the fillings, even when moistened with sauce.

We're not really fans of hush puppies but had to get an order, based on the buzz here.  They were very tasty, not at all greasy.  They're really filling when combined with three tacos, though, so I may have to pass on them in the future.

Overall a very nice find and worth the trip.  Thanks DrXmus and others who have posted.

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Say hi next time.  My sister and I stopped in for lunch today, too.  She got the fish & chips, and I got the three taco combo, fish/chorizo/barbacoa, and then we split an order of hush puppies. these are the best hush puppies I ever remember eating.  Very light and fluffy inside and wonderfully crisp & crunchy outside.  Agree with jpbloom that a little cabbage or coleslaw on the fish taco would be a nice addition.  The salsas from the taco bar were all nice and fresh.  I'm not one for super-hot chili levels, but the barbacoa definitely needs the hottest of the sauces available to set it off.  It's a wonderful deep rich flavor on it's own but the heat would be a good counterpoint.  Chorizo was good but I have to admit to being spoiled to Stachowski's chorizo so anyone else's recipe doesn't seem right to my taste buds. The fish and chips were both well fried but the french fries are pretty basic.  Going back, if I wanted the fish and not tacos, I'd make an a la carte plate of fish, hush puppies and cole slaw and leave the french fries out of the equation.  Obviously a proud owner, deservedly, and very welcoming place.

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Went with the family Friday night. Overall impressions are definitely a thumbs up and we all discussed that we'll go back. Affordability is big to me right now and ABC Canteen is right on target there. My family of 5 could have got out of there for $30 but we wanted to add on some appetizers and sides and pushed it up to $40. Great value! And, like others have reported, the owner (my assumption) takes the time explain what they do and seems very kind.

I got the fish and chips and agree with others here. The right amount of batter and fried lightly golden brown. Fries definitely reminded me of McDonalds but with probably half the salt. Wife ordered a chicken mole tamale and a pork tamale and really enjoyed them both. I've never been a fan of the dough on tamales, so I just tried a bit of the filling and both were really good. We also added some chips to her order and tried all salsas. Chips came out hot, but I can't say that the "hot, hot" salsa was hot. I didn't really detect much heat in any of the salsas.

Hushpuppies! Based on the pics above and what I ate, I probably would have called them "white" but there's definitely a hint of yellow and the owner says they use yellow corn meal so I'll now say they're "yellow". The important thing is that they're good. Just the right amount of sweetness and not too cornmealy for my tastes. And you get a lot for the $ which is great when taking out a family on a budget. Just a couple weeks ago, we were in Yorktown, VA, and a side of 2 hushpuppies was $3.50. Here, you get about 8-10 (I didn't count) for $2.50. Maybe the ones in Yorktown would have been significantly bigger, but still. I'm not sure if I'll ever go here and NOT order a side of puppies.

Kids ordered off the kids meal. The 8 year old is picky about his mac n cheese and decided to not take any chances and went with the quesadilla. He can also be picky about his quesadillas (apparently Chipotle uses too much cheese, some places the wrong cheese, etc.) but raved about this one. The other two kids (10 and 12) ordered the chicken tenders. The 10 year old said it was really good and the 12 year old said "Eh". The 12 year old probably needs to be ordering from the rest of the menu. I'll steer her towards some tacos next time. I'll stress again here the affordability. Kids meals are either $4.25 or $4.75 and include fries, drink, and a surprise dessert (we got oreos...interesting). Now, the kids meals aren't exactly high quality. The chicken tenders were likely frozen, but I'm ok with that as long as the price matches, which it does. Some places will charge you a few dollars more for a kids meal and serve the same frozen tenders and not include a drink or dessert. So, I consider this a win on the kids meal front.

We also added some cheese fries for the kids. Nothing special. Could have used more cheese. Oh, and they have birch beer which is cool.

Saw a few other people there who ordered tacos and they looked really good. That's likely what I'll order next time...with a side of hushpuppies.

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This sounds like a place my husband and I would enjoy, and it's so close to us! Are there enough items on the menu that are not deep-fried for a gluten-free eater like me to try? If not, I might just guide my husband there to try the fish and chips, a dish he loves. My sensitivity to gluten means that anything fried in the same fryers that have been used for items with wheat flour batter or coating would make me sick. So even if there's a dedicated fryer for non-wheat items, if it remains from the Arthur Treacher days, I couldn't chance it. OTOH, the tacos and tamales sound very tempting to me.

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This sounds like a place my husband and I would enjoy, and it's so close to us! Are there enough items on the menu that are not deep-fried for a gluten-free eater like me to try?.

Tacos, tamales, quesadilla (I guess that may be a flour tortilla, but I bet they could do something), Mexicali meal (haven had it yet, but sounds like a burrito in a bowl), steak sandwich (without bread), et al. Don't sit near me, though, because I'll showers you with gluten-laden hushpuppies crumbs as I plow through my meal!

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Hello ScotteeM,

If you send me an email, @ abccanteen1@gmail, I'll email you a copy of our menu.  There is an asterisk to denote gluten free items.  You'll need to also avoid the fries, chicken flautas, and tortilla chips because though gluten free, they are fried.  Tacos and Tamales are all made with corn masa in a gluten free work space.  All the toppings for the taco bar are made in house and gluten free.

Please let me know if I may be of service.

Wes

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Hello ScotteeM,

If you send me an email, @ abccanteen1@gmail, I'll email you a copy of our menu.  There is an asterisk to denote gluten free items.  You'll need to also avoid the fries, chicken flautas, and tortilla chips because though gluten free, they are fried.  Tacos and Tamales are all made with corn masa in a gluten free work space.  All the toppings for the taco bar are made in house and gluten free.

Please let me know if I may be of service.

Wes

Wes, can you post it here? If not, email it to me and I will.

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Hello ScotteeM,

If you send me an email, @ abccanteen1@gmail, I'll email you a copy of our menu.  There is an asterisk to denote gluten free items.  You'll need to also avoid the fries, chicken flautas, and tortilla chips because though gluten free, they are fried.  Tacos and Tamales are all made with corn masa in a gluten free work space.  All the toppings for the taco bar are made in house and gluten free.

Please let me know if I may be of service.

Wes

Thanks, Wes!

That's really what I wanted to know. ABC Canteen is on my list to try very soon.

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I went in a group of 7 on Monday night after seeing this thread.  I got the last pork tamale of the day and cod croquettes.  The tamale was delicious as were the croquettes, once I let them cool a bit.  The others in our party tried the salad, pork & chicken tamales and fish&chips.  Everyone enjoyed their meals and the owner is wonderful and very friendly.  I'll definitely be back the next time I'm in the area.     

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Found self rising white cornmeal.  Will test batches on Wednesday only.  Come in and let me know what you think!  

Why change what's perfect?  OK, I guess I'll try it, but why?

Had takeout from Taco Bamba for the first time 2 weeks ago. I can very confidently say that ABC Canteen's tortillas and tamales are much better.

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Yea, the white cornmeal switch did not work.  Ended up with hush puppy bombs.  Back to the yellow!

Your hushpuppies are some of the best I've ever had. No reason to switch to white cornmeal due to a random, singular comment, IMHO.

Keep up the great work!

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FINALLY got there for lunch today! Husband had fish & chips, which he loved: Nice fresh cod, perfectly cooked, great batter coating, fries fresh tasting and crispy--not greasy. I think he got a larger portion of fried cod here than he did at Brine a few weeks ago, and for about half the price.

I had a pork tamale, a chicken taco and a carnitas taco. Everything was fresh and tasty. I especially loved the tamale, which had nicely seasoned pork filling, a great proportion of filling to corn meal, and good-tasting corn meal.

Met Wesley at the counter, and he took great care of us. He asked how we found the place and I told him we saw it here. He's just posted a link on his Facebook page to this forum!

On our way home, we were already discussing what we'll try next time we go, which will be soon.

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Hello Dr. Christmus,

Sorry for the delayed response, I was off yesterday.  We would be happy to help with your lunch on Monday.  I sent Effie the info on Wednesday.

thanks for all your support,

Wes

Awesome!! If she didn't order hushpuppies and you think they'll travel, please add three orders!

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Wow, awesome catered lunch from ABC Canteen today!! Tamales, salad, dressing, tortilla chips with queso, selection of sauces, radish, jalapeí±o, pico, cilantro. The few fried fish pieces didn't last long, but they were great. I was most impressed with how well the tacos traveled. The tortillas were warm and supple long after sitting around for a bit. I LOVED the way the taco fillings were sent. Each meat (chorizo, chicken, barbacoa) were in little single-serving plastic containers, so you grabbed a tortilla, added some sauce, a little pico de gallo, a hit of cilantro and jalapeí±o and a cup of meat to put together later. Great system!

Don't hesitate to use ABC Canteen for a catered event. They pulled it off with aplomb!

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Has this ever happened to you?

You're all alone in the house, saying to yourself: "I didn't. I didn't. I couldn't have. I didn't do it. I couldn't have done it. I couldn't have possibly done it." All the while, methodically eliminating the other options, one-by-one, before finally capitulating, and quietly saying to yourself with resignation, collapsed on the couch, back of your hand on your forehead, "I did it."

I went to ABC Canteen yesterday, and was really looking forward to it after hearing so many wonderful things about it - I already knew it was going to be good; it was merely a matter of where it was, what it was like, how much it would cost, etc. I pulled into one of the reserved spaces and strolled in a nearly empty restaurant for a very late lunch.

This is a tough menu to sort through, only because you get the feeling that *everything* is going to be good, but then you whisper to yourself, "I can come back anytime I want," and the pressure eases off.

Something with corn, that much I knew - and from the Combos section of the menu, I decided on 3 Tamales with Soft Drink ($8.00), essentially giving me a Diet Coke for fifty cents, as the tamales are $2.50 each.

Choosing between Chicken Mole or Pork with Green Sauce, I asked for the Chicken Mole, and my delightful hostess told me they only had two of the chicken moles left (which made me give myself a mental forehead-slap - why *wouldn't* I mix them up?) So I ordered the two chicken moles, and got one pork with green sauce - perfect.

I ran and got something from my car, sipped my drink as I was reading, and out came a plate with three corn husks, beautifully stuffed - I could tell this even before unraveling them (yes, I unravel my tamales, one at a time, even though it's probably best to let the husks act as insulators for the heat, and only perform a partial unravel).

What can I say? These were superb tamales. I have absolutely no idea how to cook the innards of a tamale, but both types were obviously long-cooked, and could not be produced on short order (hence, the two chicken moles). Deep, dark, bursting with real, authentic flavors that can't be mimicked by shortcuts or trickery. This is how to make a tamale, and I was one happy camper - I could have flipped a coin between the two types, and cannot recommend one over the other; only that you should get both. The plate was unadorned - a blue-plate-special sort-of thing, but the embellishment rested deep within, and a squirt of this, or a few of that, would be entirely unnecessary and possibly even harmful.

I could not have been any happier when I drove away, and my only regret was the concept of "fullness," as there's much more to this menu I wish to try, and curse human biology, I'm just going to have to wait to try it.

But I did get something for lunch the next day: a daily chalkboard special of Pozole ($8.00), hominy and pork, served with an avocado chunk (which I knew would brown overnight) and an added bonus: two Chicken Flautas.

I was chilling a drink in the freezer, and knew it would need a good fifteen minutes, so I was doing some menial household chores which needed to be done, and after accomplishing much more than I had hoped, I was ready for my Pozole. So I went to get the bag, and didn't see it. I walked into the next room, and it wasn't there, either. And then slowly, I began eliminating possible resting places one-by-one, saying to myself, "I didn't. I didn't. I couldn't have. I didn't do it. I couldn't have done it. I couldn't have possibly done it." All the while, methodically eliminating the other options, one-by-one, before finally capitulating, and quietly saying to myself with resignation, collapsed on the couch, back of my hand on my forehead, "I did it."

With a knowing sense of dread, I walked out to the recycling bin, opened the lid, and saw the plastic bag. What was this about a five-second rule by Julia Child? I kind-of "extended the scope," and, well, you know what happened. It was all sealed off, and nothing had gotten in or out; yet, there was "the thought." That dreadful thought.

Nevertheless, the Pozole was very good, although came across as more of a "Grandma's Cream-of-Chicken Soup" than the type of Gumbo-like Posole Rojo you'd get at Taco Bamba. It was a very tasty bowl of soup, but not the type of Pozole that I'm used to - there must be regional styles, because these two offerings are so vastly different that there truly can be no comparison, and I'm only even mentioning Taco Bamba because I figured others would think of the same thing.

ABC Canteen is a jewel-of-a-dive (I say "dive," but it's clean as a whistle; just not embellished or adorned.) If you're traveling between I-66 and Route 123 down that little Lee Highway - Nutley Street cutover, it's worth the detour. Dining Guide coverage initiated enthusiastically in Italic, along with the confident recommendation that this is a restaurant everyone should try if they're in the area.

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Another great lunch today. I introduced the place to my daughter, who is home from college for her holiday break.

My daughter chose the fish and chips, and the fish was perfectly cooked as usual. DR's post reminded me to try the tamales again, so I ordered the pork and green chile version. Man, was that a delicious tamale. The masa was moist and tender, and the green chile was pleasantly tangy, and complimented the pork nicely. One of the best tamales I've had. As a displaced Texan, I'll consider ordering these for Christmas.

The barbacoa taco was great as well. All of their fillings are delicious, but the made to order tortillas really sets ABC Canteen apart from every other taco I've had in the area. This is the only place I know of that cooks their tortillas to order, and they are some of the best you'll ever try.

Finally, in my continuing quest to work my way through the menu, I ordered the cod fritters. These were a nice change of pace, perfectly cooked and served with aioli.

As usual, the staff is incredibly friendly and helpful.

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I'm almost never out that way, but I just realized I'll practically be driving right by ABC Canteen on my way home from an event in a couple of weeks. I'm definitely stopping in to pick up dinner!

So I did stop in on Sunday to pick up dinner for me, my husband, and my stepdaughter after a rare visit to Fairfax. I would have never, ever known about this place if not for this website. Wesley the owner waited on me, and he was so nice and helpful.

I ordered the hushpuppies, tamales, and a barbacoa taco for myself. I'd wanted to try the chicken mole and the pork with green sauce tamales, but sadly they only had two left when I got there, one pork and one vegetarian. Although I was sad not to get to try the chicken mole, the tamales I did try were delicious. I really like the idea of tamales, but I don't think I'd ever had a decent one until now. I keep ordering them in mediocre to terrible Tex Mex restaurants, and they're awful, but these were so good. reedm's description just above my post pretty much sums it up. I also enjoyed the barbacoa taco, especially the tortilla. Like someone else mentioned above, I also loved how they packed the tacos for transport with the meat in small plastic containers and the tortillas separate -- such care and thought!

I was worried about how the hushpuppies would travel home to Silver Spring, so I started popping them on my drive (taking a page from Don's playbook). So, so delicious. Nice cornmeal flavor and great crunch on the outside while staying softer on the inside. I'm happy to report that the hushpuppies traveled pretty well the 45 minutes home. I was surprised when I pulled into my driveway and found that there were still several hushpuppies remaining -- I was sure I'd devoured them all on my drive. A generous portion.

My husband loves fish and chips, and I wished he could have ordered them, but we weren't sure they'd survive the drive back to Silver Spring (he wasn't with me at the restaurant). So he ordered the steak mojo sandwich (of course steak). I had a couple of bites and thought it was tasty, but I was glad I ordered what I ordered (not that there was anything wrong with the sandwich at all). My husband liked the sandwich. My stepdaughter, who has the opposite of my almost limitless appetite, ordered three barbacoa tacos and actually finished them! I'm pretty sure this was the first time I'd even seen her finish a meal. She thought the tacos were amazing.

I'm so, so glad to have learned about this place and also so glad I braved that nearby traffic circle to try it!

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You must have been just ahead of me.  When I got there, there was only one veggie tamale left!  I ended up ordering the posole, which was topped with about 1/2 of an avocado and which came with 2 chicken flautas.  Very different from Taco Bamba's posole roja, this was a thick white soupy white stew with big chunks of tender pork and lots of hominy.  Very, very filling -- the bowl I got probably held 1.5 cups of stew and I was only able to finish about half of it, took the rest home with me.  It's very mild and I had part of the bowl with some of the chopped offerings on the salsa bar.  I think I liked it topped with a little fresh onion and jalapeno best of the combos I tried.  Probably a better choice for a colder day or take-out.  Glad that I got it, but left wishing I had ordered it to go and had gotten some hushpuppies and fish for eating in.

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Having had such wonderful tamales on my previous visit to ABC Canteen, I made a return visit for lunch to explore in more depth. At the very top of their menu is the Fish & Chips ($7.95), three large strips of cod, with a sturdy, tempura-like batter having a pale, golden hue that's optimal for flavor, texture, insulation, and handling - it's easy to pick these cod strips up and dunk them in the house-made tartar sauce without loss of integrity. They also came with some thin-cut, fairly typical frozen french fries that I thought had one shake of salt too many - I would urge less exuberance with the salt-shaker, and allow the diners to self-adjust as needed. If you like fish & chips, you'll enjoy this fish and tartar sauce, while being left wishing for more distinctive chips. A Fountain Soft Drink ($1.85) allows for unlimited refills (depending on the time of day, and my current need for caffeine and/or sugar, I auto-adjust the ratio of Diet Coke to regular Coke - almost always, I stick with Diet Coke, but on this day I cheated by adding a couple ounces of high-test for a cheap, temporary fructose buzz.

The Tamales ($2.50) are still chicken or pork, and I got four of them to go - three chicken, and one pork - and I'm not sure why I was surprised to open the container only to be stared down by four unadorned corn husks. I mean, what else was I expecting? The corn husks being the perfect protector, I nibbled my way through this order, making it last over the course of two days. Without any adornment, the tamales might be (might be) a touch dry, so if you get them to go, make sure to get a few containers of sauce to add - I did this, and was glad I did. The tamales remain terrific, and are reason enough to frequent ABC Canteen.

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On the following day, I got a text message from my young dining companion asking me if I wanted to have lunch. I knew just the place, not far at all from Woodson High School and his home turf: ABC Canteen - straight down Pickett Road, left on Lee Highway, and you're there. On my first two visits, I had flown over with drones on reconnaissance missions; now, I had the infantry and strong air support backing me, and the two of us carpet-bombed the menu. I started with another Diet Coke ($1.80), because you need to cut corners where they're expendable, and I certainly don't need empty calories from soft drinks.

Chicken Wings ($10.50 for 12): Get them. We had a choice of BBQ or Buffalo sauce (Buffalo), and blue cheese or ranch dipping sauce (ranch) - Matt adores chicken wings (he's 18), and we both really liked these - it hurt for me to show restraint, but I saw how much he was enjoying them, so I let him have the lion's share. There seemed to be an even mix of wings and drumettes in the order - I suspect if you prefer one over the other, all you'd need to do is ask, but I don't know this for a fact.

Both of us got a Steak Mojo Sandwich ($7.50), a surprisingly elegant sub, smaller than a foot-long, featuring much higher-quality steak than is the norm (this was actual steak; not Steak-Umms), a light touch of Monterey Jack, Sriracha mayo (faux-Mojo sauce), lettuce, and tomato, all neatly served on a relatively short, flat, toasted sub roll - this was not a sloppy sandwich at all, and wasn't the type of gooey, saucy steak-and-cheese that leaves you feeling guilty for having downed.

Perhaps the highlight of the meal was a justifiably vaunted, highly touted order of Hush Puppies ($2.50), which were delicious for reasons I wasn't expecting: the flour inside was pale, and there were no kernels of corn; the batter and the fry-job were both perfect, and the texture, consistency, and halbtrocken palate presence were absolutely appropriate, and these were a perfect accompaniment to our sandwiches.

Note that there are combos on the menu which include soft drinks - at the time of this writing, I have no idea whether or not I ordered them or got the discounts (I just now noticed, and don't much care, but thought it was worth a mention).

ABC Canteen is strongly maintained in Italic and remains recommended - it's an independent restaurant worth your time and effort: The food here is good, the restaurant is squeaky clean, and the service is extremely friendly and thoughtful. I again want to stress that this is very, very close to the intersection of I-66 and Nutley Street.

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I was there before the holidays and Wesley was doing a brisk business selling bulk tamales (which were awesome).  New on the menu for that visit - Horchata.  Quite good.

The main problem with this place is that there are so many things I want to order off the menu that I wind up getting too much.

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Went today and the two of us ordered entirely too much food, then proceeded to down it all.  Fish and chips, hushpuppies, one chicken and one pork tamale, and a carnitas taco.  The posts above say it all - good stuff.  I even liked the standard-issue fries because they're small and thin, so no sogginess.  (If I were at Eamonn's, I'd have different expectations).  Plus, when we told the lovely woman at the counter that it was our first time there, she could not have been nicer in explaining the menu.

Hope this place sticks around for a long time.  We live in Arlington but are happy to do the drive out there.

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Finally made it here this weekend and we tried to sample across the menu: fish & chips, hush puppies, a tamale of each kind, and a posole. An excellent meal.  Echoing the comments above, the fried food was perfect: fresh, hot, crispy, flavorful, and not at all greasy.  Not sure I've ever needed a napkin less with my fried fish.  And the option to add individual pieces of fish to an order at $2.00 each is a great, customer-friendly option that lets diners customize to their appetite.  Others have nailed the hush puppies -- we liked them so much, we ordered a second round.  Wesley appears to have taken Don's comment about the salting of the French fries to heart as well - ours were lightly salted, and we added a shake at the table.   The fries were great with the "smoky hot" salsa on the salsa bar, by the way.

As to the Mexican items, rich, deep flavors -- especially the bottom of the posole bowl.  We should've stirred a little more, I guess.  The posole is served with a pair of chicken flautas, which I think are unnecessary -- would rather have the posole on its own and choose other options from the menu, or have plain tortillas to dip or soak up the last of the posole.

DR.com story time: the gentleman manning the counter, who I assume must be Wesley, asked where we had heard about the restaurant.  "Don Rockwell's," I replied.  He nodded knowingly.  "He's been in a few times.  I can remember his orders, but I can't remember him at all."

Looks like the Fairfax Circle shopping center will be vacant any time now and ready for the construction crews to arrive.  All that remains is the Advance Auto Parts, and their new location down the street looks just about to open.

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Wow, I really like this place!

The parking lot was very tight due to the snow, but I managed and it was well worth it.  I went in and the lovely woman behind the counter asked if I had been before, explained the menu and was just lovely in every way.  I ordered a fish taco, chorizo taco and hush puppies.  Everything was really good.  I loved the tacos!  The topping bar had nice salsas and toppings.  The fish was perfect, a big chunk, but just so tasty.  The chorizo was really good too.  I was checked on during my meal by the fantastic woman behind the counter.  I am not a huge hush puppy person, but I had to try them for my husband and they did not disappoint.  I got a box from the fantastic woman that works here (seriously a gem) who brought it out for me and cleared my plates for me.  I really do love this place, I wish it was in a more convenient location for me.

I also enjoyed listening to the conversations of the workmen around me, one group was discussing how much you need to pick chicken to not be wasteful and this was hilarious.

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We were there yesterday (Friday) for lunch. I tried the chicken mole tamale and the pozole with flautas and loved all of it. The tamales have plenty of filling and it is delicious, and the corn meal coating is thick enough to hold together but not so thick that it overpowers the filling. The pozole was rich and unctuous and tasted of long cooking. The flautas, with their fresh-made tortillas and finely chopped filling, were the best I've tasted. In fact, all of the components were the best I've tasted of each of them.

My husband had the fish and chips (again), which seems to be consistently wonderful.

I agree about the service--it's friendly and helpful without being overbearing. We are still working our way through the menu and enjoying every visit.

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We were there yesterday (Friday) for lunch. I tried the chicken mole tamale and the pozole with flautas and loved all of it. The tamales have plenty of filling and it is delicious, and the corn meal coating is thick enough to hold together but not so thick that it overpowers the filling. The pozole was rich and unctuous and tasted of long cooking. The flautas, with their fresh-made tortillas and finely chopped filling, were the best I've tasted. In fact, all of the components were the best I've tasted of each of them.

My husband had the fish and chips (again), which seems to be consistently wonderful.

I agree about the service--it's friendly and helpful without being overbearing. We are still working our way through the menu and enjoying every visit.

Sorry I missed you, I was there Friday too at 1:00 ish on my way back from court.

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