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DanCole42

29 Diner, Historic Fairfax Diner Open Since 1947 - Reopen September 12, 2014 Under New Ownership

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Has anyone been? I had the opportunity to step inside over the weekend*, and it looked absolutely darling. What's the food like?

*We had to leave because my reprehensible mother-in-law from Brooklyn, in a screechy brogue piercing and loud enough for everyone in the establishment to turn their heads, said, "this place looks doity. Weah not eatin' heah!" (and you think DCers are overly self-entitled; try spending a weekend with my in-laws).

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Not to sound like an self-entitled DCer, but you didn't miss anything. The place is "doity" as hell (always filthy silverware, unwiped tables, I have found hair/other foreign objects in my food, etc) and the service is inexcusable, even for a dive diner. This would all be OK, I guess, if they were serving up a bunch of $8-13 dishes of greasy diner food, but this place is all over the board, with some cheap (and really greasy) breakfast items and a lot of entrees that go from $17 all the way up to the $20s. I have had a Western Omelette, chicken salad, and a London Broil sandwich here and none of them were good enough to make me want to come back.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but there's a reason there was never a thread started for this place, and it's because this place is meh.

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Growing up pretty close to here, I used to go ever once in a while for breakfast after a long night of drinking when I was in college, but haven't been back for 10 years or so. I think I went there once when I was sober and said to myself, "What the hell am I doing here!?"

There is a place in this market for dives, maybe a bit rough around the edges with some quirks, but not when the food pretty much sucks like it does here.

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The 29! Ahh... memories. I spent a lot of late nights while in high school at the Tastee 29... My little gang went there pretty much once per weekend and overloaded on way too many free coffee refills (it was nice and strong, but still a pale substitute for all the booze we were WISHING to get our underage hands on...).

I'm sorry to hear that it has turned sucky. Perhaps it's just my misty water colored memories, but I recall the food as a diner-classic greasefest. Nothing special, but they honored requests to make my fries "extra-crispy" and their patty melt was just what the cardiologist ordered. It's pretty brusque service (at least it used to be) but it's the kind of place where your grow to love the grumpiness... and one magical day, if you go long enough... you even get the honor of getting asked: "The usual?"

Oh, the love.

It's been 10 years since i stepped in the door. Hope it hasn't faded entirely.

PS--the architecture is neat--it has some sort of Historic Landmark designation!

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We used to hold our college newspaper editorial meetings at the Denny's across the street and I would always make huffy sounds and point at the perfectly good horribly bad trucked in and left on cinderblocks shiny 29 diner, but to no avail. I suppose Denny's has the right journalistic ambiance. Feh.

I, too, admit that I haven't been in about three years, but it was pretty serviceable diner fare. Bob and Edith's kind of spoils you, as far as diner food goes. 29 Diner is more "destination dining." They had scrapple AND spam at one point, hope that hasn't changed.

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Never had good stuff there. Wished I could, but every time I tried, no dice. It's sort of a Fairfax institution, and I am sort of a Fairfax gal, and I know people who swear by it, but no.

Now, the Vienna Inn, which is also questionable, I have actually had a decent breakfast there. It's a dive, though

What you have to realize is that when these establishments were opened, there was ONE red light between Washington, D.C. and Chantilly. Tyson's Corner had one gas station and nothing more. When closer in high schools played Oakton High School, they brought cow bells to ring at the games because it was out in the country compared to Inside The Beltway.

In other words, Hicksville, and these places haven't changed.

If that appeals to you, so be it. Growing up in Louisiana, Hicksville served delicious food, but I suggest to you that Hicksville Virginia food bites the big one.

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Back in college I lived here (Not in fairfax, in the diner). Back in the day the coffee was made by this huge monstrosity of a coffee machine that heraleded back from the 50's. It was awesome. Some of the best diner coffee you could get. I have been back since and the coffee machine was replaced with what looks like an office machine. Now the coffee is horrible.

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It is what it is. Had lunch there today with my three young-uns, ages 15 (girl), 14 (boy) and 9 (boy). Daughter had waffles, 14 year old had two perfect sunny-side-up eggs with sides of two pork chops and home fries, and 9 year old had his standard grilled cheese sandwich, which he declared the best he's ever had. All three had chocolate shakes, each of which filled the glass twice and didn't have the corn syrup that McDonald's shakes are loaded with. I had a club sandwich followed by an egg-ham-cheese sandwich. All of us were satisfied and full, and the bill was $39 and change.

This is not haute cuisine. This is fill-the-belly-with-heartiness and a touch of history and America. If you set foot in a McDonald's or Burger King anywhere within 10 miles of this place, then shame on you. Worse, if you set foot in a Silver Diner anywhere within 100 miles of this place, please terminate your access to this site.

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It is what it is. Had lunch there today with my three young-uns, ages 15 (girl), 14 (boy) and 9 (boy). Daughter had waffles, 14 year old had two perfect sunny-side-up eggs with sides of two pork chops and home fries, and 9 year old had his standard grilled cheese sandwich, which he declared the best he's ever had. All three had chocolate shakes, each of which filled the glass twice and didn't have the corn syrup that McDonald's shakes are loaded with. I had a club sandwich followed by an egg-ham-cheese sandwich. All of us were satisfied and full, and the bill was $39 and change.

This is not haute cuisine. This is fill-the-belly-with-heartiness and a touch of history and America. If you set foot in a McDonald's or Burger King anywhere within 10 miles of this place, then shame on you. Worse, if you set foot in a Silver Diner anywhere within 100 miles of this place, please terminate your access to this site.

Are you kidding? This place is no better than any fast food place or Silver Diner. My meals there have been horrible, but it has been a long time since I have been in. Could they have improved?

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Are you kidding? This place is no better than any fast food place or Silver Diner. My meals there have been horrible, but it has been a long time since I have been in. Could they have improved?

I sat at the counter with a full view of the griddle, and I watched fresh ingredients being prepared with total respect by admirable cooks. The eggs were perfectly sunny-side-up. The pork chops were gnaw-on-the bone good. The home fries were crusted in brown crispiness. This isn't the cuisine that real chefs prepare, but if you're looking for a hit-the-spot kind of goodness that you'll never get at Outback or Silver Diner (yuk!), you'll find it here.

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I had a club sandwich followed by an egg-ham-cheese sandwich. All of us were satisfied and full, and the bill was $39 and change.
Although this place is more or less around the corner from where my mother has lived since 1976, I've never been, so I can't enter the discussion as to whether it's any good. But you had a club sandwich followed by an egg-ham-cheese sandwich? You mean you ate two lunches on one occasion? Isn't it possible that that kind of apparent excess may cloud your judgment, or indicate an already clouded judgment?

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Although this place is more or less around the corner from where my mother has lived since 1976, I've never been, so I can't enter the discussion as to whether it's any good. But you had a club sandwich followed by an egg-ham-cheese sandwich? You mean you ate two lunches on one occasion? Isn't it possible that that kind of apparent excess may cloud your judgment, or indicate an already clouded judgment?

I was creating my own tasting menu.

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I was creating my own tasting menu.

With name like Kibbeh Naye, I'm inclined to follow your tastes anywhere! Love me some tartar. When LebTav on Washington Blvd has an "on" night with their lamb version of that dish, it's downright ethereal.

So, yeah, I dig your style! A 29 Diner stop may be in my future the next time I'm over near Spout Run.

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I'm enjoying this thread. The more I think of it, the counter seat on the left side of the diner is a sort of "chef's table"....but it's in Fairfax, not Spout Run.

For kibbee nayee, I have had credible versions at Lebanese Butcher in Falls Church, Jerusalem in the Skyline area of Alexandria, and Layla in Old Town. For Middle Eastern food in general, the Mediterranean Gourmet Market on Franconia Road is probably our best example.

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I'm enjoying this thread. The more I think of it, the counter seat on the left side of the diner is a sort of "chef's table"....but it's in Fairfax, not Spout Run.
and to get this back on topic, the one (and only) time I tried to eat at the 29'er Diner...the cigarette smoke was so thick and prevalent (even on the "non-smoking" side) that I had to leave. Unless they've shot all those people with a cigarette permanently stuck in the corner of their mouth who seem to live at the counter, washed 200 years of nicotine off of every surface within 20 square miles and trashed all the ashtrays, I don't think I'm interested in going....now food in Genoa, Italy, that's a different story and one to come later this week.

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I just got word that 29 Diner (open since 1947!) is closed, and verified that it's true.

Man, was that place a throwback. 67 years - not a bad run.

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Dammit.

If I'm being honest, it wasn't very good, but we still went frequently. The El Salvadoran man who worked the griddle in the AM was always very kind to my children. If only they could have made it through this weekend with Rolling Thunder, they could have closed with a bit more cash.

Where will my girls and I sing to Johnny Cash with our breakfast now?

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reopening, according to today's Washington Post 

Seems like he's going for more "Greasy Spoon Meets Maple Ave. Restaurant," though (complete with the problematic parking).  Not a *bad* thing, mind, but when I see "rotating cast of acclaimed chefs" that just tells me to expect a minimum of a 150% markup on what they originally charged for anything prior to the reorganization.

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Alright, since I have the time to write a proper review now...

First, the booths the old 29 Diner had are gone.  In their place are metal chairs and tables that look like outdoor furniture - I didn't think to ask if this was temporary, but someone else asked where the booths had gone (I didn't hear the answer).  They also have the crooners channel of the cable "Music Choice" channel playing in lieu of a jukebox.  So two strikes already for ambiance.

I was eating at a suicidally late hour, and had the good sense to ask before my order had been tendered if they were capable of taking credit, and I'm glad I did.  It seems there's something glitchy with their processing system, and I was told that they wouldn't be able to take credit until 5am (I was there at ~3am - please don't ask why).  So I asked my waitress to hold the order, hopped in my car, and found the nearest bank that didn't look like it had a skimmer on it, and ate the $3 ~convenience fee~ just to get back quickly.

I ordered their "Triple Bacon Burger," which while it sounds indulgent (and damned well should be for nearly ten bucks), isn't - the patties are super thin (but not smashed) with a side of their "Curly Pasta Mac & Cheese."

Where to begin...

The burger's bun was excellent.  One of the best ones I've had in quite a while.  The *burger* itself?  Pretty tasteless.  If I hadn't asked for their "Royale" sauce on the side (basically 1000 Island/Russian Dressing), I don't think I would've tasted much of it (perhaps their thicker 1/4lb patties are seasoned better).  And when you put meat, cheese, chopped white onion, and bacon inside of bread, you kind of expect something ~savory~ to go with the few months you're likely taking off your life.  Also, their 'curly pasta' M&C?  Came out rod-straight and in desperate need of a little extra 'oomph' taste-wise.  They also forgot my fries, but those honestly weren't anything to write home about either, even coming out fresh and still glistening with oil from the frier (even after I put salt and pepper on them).

Now for the 'plusses.'  First, the staff is *incredibly* friendly and garrulous (again, keeping in mind I was there @3am).  If you need a 24 hour diner where you can strike up a conversation with someone, this is a *much* better option than Amphora or (god forbid) Denny's.  Second, the staff seemed exceptionally willing to not only make alterations to their menu items, but 'whip you up what you like' as well (I even had the line cook pop his head out and ask me what else I wanted on my burger).  Someone who was obviously familiar with the old menu asked where the Steak and Cheese was, and was told that if he really wanted one, the kitchen staff would be happy to make it.

While I was there, a frat boy and his 'boo' drove up in what looked like a hand-me-down Lexus SUV (~thanks dad~).  As he walked in, he said that he'd grown up coming to this place and then proceeded to yank up his shirt to reveal his sagged shorts and a good 2-3 inches of the top of his boxer briefs to wipe his face.  The only spark of intelligence he showed was when he also asked if they took credit/debit cards before ordering, and got the same answer I did.  I got his attention and told him about the CapitalOne bank ~1/4 mile down the road and they disappeared, coming back with what seemed like only $20 in hand (for two people).  When he looked at the menu, he did a bit of a double-take and made some excuse about how his girlfriend "really just wanted breakfast" and left in a hurry.  It should be said that nowhere on the menu does it say breakfast is only served between a set scope of hours.

What this tells me is that their pricing is *way* out of line with the late-night GMU crowd they're undoubtedly looking to lure away from Denny's (or the 24h options *on* the GMU campus) is willing to pay.  No one's (especially the 16-25 bracket) going to pay 10-15 dollars per entree for ~breakfast anytime~ when they can go an 1/8th of a mile down the road and get 'all you can eat pancakes' and a glass of ice water for four bucks and stiff the waiter on the tip because "el oh el it's Denny's."

My final check came out to just shy of 15 bucks, and I left 25, again, because like I said in my second Steak & Shake write-up, *I* wouldn't want to be waiting tables that late.  I'm willing to chalk up my somewhat unmemorable experience to the fact that they'd been open for business all of ~28 hours at the time, but it's never a good sign when the stalwart diner staple of a *bacon cheeseburger* loses out on taste to something I could've gotten at McDonald's for two bucks.

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