Behind American City Diner’s red neon sign, there's a billboard of cartoon family driving through the countryside, emblazoned with the text “There’s no way like the American Way.” It's an image that, like the restaurant as a whole, looks like it could fit right in Eisenhower-era 1950s America. The train-car-style exterior has a coating of blue paint, and inside, there's a constant soundtrack of Sinatra and Elvis. Picture windows line the front of the diner; wouldn't feel out of the ordinary to see a young couple with two straws dipped in one malted milkshake as they simultaneously dance the Mashed Potato.
Breakfast is served all day, and diners can also enjoy quintessential diner dishes such as burgers and sandwiches.
A simple, homey sign and no-frills brick façade welcome visitors to the laid-back environs of The Hampstead Diner, where laminated menus elicit stomach rumbles with a seemingly endless supply of homemade eats. At breakfast, peppers, potatoes, onions, and eggs sink into skillets and scrambles, and plates of belgian waffles crowned with cutlets of fried chicken forge a delicious truce betwixt the worlds of sweet and savory. Diners perched upon wooden park benches happily chow down on morning or midday meals, which include Reuben sandwiches, chili-topped dogs, and freshly ground, hand-pattied burgers.
Seasonal Cuisine | Local Ingredients | Acclaimed Bar Menu
Who’s Cooking: Chef-owner Tom Power moved Corduroy from its original location inside the Four Points Sheraton Hotel in 2008. Since then, he’s continued to build a loyal following thanks to his fresh, ingredient-focused cuisine. He’s a loyal supporter of local farms, and Corduroy’s menu reflects that with its ever-evolving seasonal options.
When to Go: Make sure to go when you have plenty of time: Corduroy asks that you allow a minimum of two hours to get the most out of your dining experience.
What to Wear: The code here is dressy casual, so look nice. And do so in pants—shorts are strictly prohibited.
If You Can’t Make It, Try This: Chef Power’s other restaurant, Baby Wale (1124 9th Street NW), sits right next door to Corduroy. This follow-up effort serves upscale bar food, such as sandwiches, pupusas, and hot dogs.
Breakfast for dinner is a popular meal theme, but The Diner takes the concept one step further: you can have breakfast in the morning, the evening, or even after the bars close. That’s because the 24/7 eatery isn't tethered to the clock, instead offering its full menu of diner staples whether it's 2 a.m. or 7 p.m. Those looking for breakfast can tuck into the signature Diner Royale, which features two eggs, a choice of meat, challah french toast, and home fries or grits. Besides the familiar brunch standards, patrons can sample some innovative options such as bread-pudding french toast and the Croque and Dagger—two over-easy eggs on sourdough bread topped with bacon, béchamel, and gooey melted gruyère. The rest of the menu is filled with comfort foods of all types, from fried green tomatoes to bacon-wrapped meatloaf with whipped potatoes and creamed corn. Like a midterm exam at clown college, no meal is complete without a taste of one of the house’s fresh pies, which come in flavors such as coconut custard, sour cherry, and sweet potato. Some of the delectables even make it into the bar's creations, such as the Apple Bottom milk shake—made with Sailor Jerry rum, vanilla ice cream, and apple pie. Bartenders also blend up bloody marys, cocktails made with cognac and chamomile-lavender tea, and old-fashioneds.
Open City hosts a broad cross-section of patrons, from local hipsters and neighborhood families to conventioneers staying at the nearby Marriott and Omni hotels. Freelancers and students leisurely sip coffee and use the free Wi-Fi, and while the café is open all day long, the most popular meals here are breakfast and brunch. Look for omelets, scrambles, buttermilk or multi-grain pancakes, french toast, mimosas and everything else you might crave before noon, all served with a seriously relaxed vibe. While breakfast is served all day, those dining later might want to indulge in one of the homemade salads or sandwiches, or fawn over a cup of coffee – served with animal crackers on the side. No matter what your order, the big, yawning space will make you feel right at home, thanks to an abundance of natural light. Or, soak it all in from their sidewalk patio space.