With the new decade upon us, I have decided to make on very important New Year's resolution: Eat at fewer chain restaurants. Recently I've been discovering local hole-in-the-wall joints like Dumm's in Riverdale Park. Want a decent half-smoke but you're in Silver Spring? Try Quarry House Tavern. When i'm hankering for a sub at work in College Park, do I go to Subway, Potbelly's or Quiznos? How about Jungle Grille on Route 1 instead? Need a quick late-night meal in South Arlington? Try Bob and Edith's Diner.
Apart from the fact that you are likely to get much better customer service and more/better food for the dollar at locally owned establishments like these, they keep money in the community. Panera might be great, but nothing beats the sandwiches at the Parkway Deli in Silver Spring. And better yet, the define a sense of culture unique to a very small area, like my old haunt the Corner Pub in Four Corners, or the Stained Glass Pub in Glenmont.
The punk rocker in me likes to think that I am keeping my hard earned cash out of the pockets of "the man", but the fact of the matter is it is an economically sound decision, and it enriches my sense of local culture. Ben's Chili Bowl on U Street is a hyperbolic example of how a food restaurant can capture the character of a neighborhood. Some places are late night joints for bargoers, like Tastee Diner in Silver Spring and Bethesda and Steak and Eggs in Tenleytown. And what UMD student has never spent a late Saturday night at Plato's Diner?
Plato's Diner in College Park. Photo from flickr by Steve Snodgrass
I tend to move about the entire region so if anyone has a favorite watering hole, lunch counter, or grease pit that's not of the ilk of McDonalds, Chipotle, TGI Fridays, or Panera, by all means share with me and the rest of our readers. So for one of your resolutions this new year, I encourage you to forgo Starbucks for your morning coffee, and instead patronize a more local institution and keep the money flowing around your neck of the woods.
And of course, Happy New Year, DC!!!