Category Archives: Food and Drink

29 Tastee Diner, circa 1995

Fairfax’s 29 Diner saved

After I initially became aware of the closure of the 29 Diner (nee 29 Tastee Diner, my photo above is circa 1995), I CC’ed a couple of loval Post columnists about the demise. Both indicated that 29 Diner would return. The Post still hasn’t reported anything, but yesterday I found that Northern Virginia Magazine has details:

New owner and Fairfax native, John Wood hopes to reopen the doors of this iconic establishment in late July. “We just signed the lease,” says Wood. “As soon as we get all of our marching orders from the Virginia Board of Historical Resources we will reopen. It is going to be the same classic diner that it has been for the last 67 years.”

From Iconic 29 Diner in Fairfax Plans to Reopen in Late July Under New Ownership

UPDATED 6.19.2014: John Kelly has a column in today’s PostFairfax City’s 29 Diner is getting a makeover; fans of late night eggs and grits rejoice

As a much-needed renovation progresses over the summer, the diner’s parking lot will host events, including food truck visits and car shows. They hope the diner itself will reopen by Labor Day.

And when it reopens? There will be diner food, yes, John and Billy said, but also artisanal food served by a rotating cast of acclaimed chefs. There’s likely to be a barbecue component, too. Ambitious.

John said the plan is to work with groups that help veterans and the homeless. He said the Lord inspires him to give back.

There were several comments on Facebook about the closing of the diner. I’ll admit to some nostalgia and will probably take a visit there sometime now. My wife’s never been and I think my six year old may enjoy it too. Adding barbecue makes me want to go back more. And artisanal food, why not? Though I’d just be happy if it’s less greasy than before.

By the way, Wikipedia mentions that the diner has been featured in a few Zippy the Pinhead comic strips over the years, including this one from 2003.

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29 Diner by Lou Corsaro, used with permission

Fairfax’s 29 Tastee Diner is closed, but for how long?

29 Diner in Fairfax Has Closed; It Opened in 1947Burke Patch

UPDATED 7:42 PM

Via my brother, I learned that the 29 Tastee Diner in the city of Fairfax closed in May. The classic diner had been just west of the intersection of VA 123 on US 29 there for 67 years, hence the name though the road scholar in me feels obligated to note that US 50 is also along that stretch and US 211 was as well before being decommissioned east of Warrenton. Here’s a excerpt from the web site:

The Tastes 29 Diner is architecturally significant as one of very few diners left in the United States exhibiting exceptional streamline Moderns design and construction characteristics.

This particular model would have appeared unique in its day and especially unusual in the then rural back drop of the Virginia countryside. Through the 1940a and 1950s, the Mountain View Diner Company custom fit its diners to the level demanded by customers: they manufactured high-quality diners that were “built to last a lifetime.” The Tastes 29 Diner is now surrounded by intense commercial development.

Was it “Tastes” all along? I remembered it as Tastee. Also, Mountain View Diner Company built hundreds of diners and was based in New Jersey (naturally), not far from where my dad grew up.

When I was a teenager working at the Oakton Friendly’s (long-gone too) that was where we’d congregate after work regularly for a late night dinner. It was a time warp to when Fairfax wasn’t part of a major metropolis; just a sleepy county seat of a largely rural Northern Virginia.

The food was greasy; I couldn’t handle it now. The cook smoked while working. There was a neon sign advertising air conditioning. It was the setting of one of the local car dealers commercials (AND A FREE LOH-NAH CAH). There was a sign that said YCJCYADFTJB – Your curiosity just cost you a dime for the juke box.

I had not eaten there since the late 1990s, but I always figured if it made that long, it’d be there forever. I hope diner gets re-opened/re-used somehow either at its present location or elsewhere. It’d be a shame to see that vintage building be destroyed.

Photo by Lou Corsaro, used with permission

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BeltwayLand beer: History, more on Nats Park beer

It’s time again for my monthly-ish round-up of BeltwayLand and beyond beer news.

WETA has a brief feature on brewing in the D.C. area with Garrett Peck, author of Capital Beer: A Heady History of Brewing in Washington, D.C. (I need to get it) which gives the broad history of beer in the area. Fun fact – Robert Portner developed air conditioning to make lager beer year round at his Alexandria brewery. Two of his great-granddaughters are going to open Portner Brewhouse in Alexandria, details TBD. They are also mentioned in Washingtonian‘s Women in Washington’s Craft Beer Scene. Now, on with our feature presentation:

The beer map! The Annual Nationals Park Beer Guide is up on The Nationals Review. Service blogging!

Beergraphs.com also visited Nationals Park recently and gave it an 86 (B).

Devil's Backbone Vienna Lager

Devil’s Backbone Vienna Lager won The Post’s Beer Madness, a regional beer tournament (that’s a big region). I’m a fan and have been since I tried it at the behest of Slow States. Once I found it. It’s now my go-to during my now infrequent trips to the Vienna Inn, but I can’t seem to find it in stores of late. Harris Teeter shaved off $2 from the price of a six-pack, so that may be part of the reason. Overall, it seems harder to find local/regional beers in grocery stores of late, is anybody else noticing that?

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ginandtonic

Your annual reminder of how to make a proper gin and tonic

The first warm weekend of the year is upon us which means a magical time of year has begun — gin and tonic time!

As long time readers, friends and family know, I do enjoy a gin & tonic on a warm evening. After many years of research, I believe I have perfected the gin & tonic. You may be saying, “oh, WFY, gin & tonics are gross” but don’t worry, I won’t jump on you for it. I say to myself, “don’t hate, educate” to the gin & tonic skeptics out there. Long-story short dump out all the ice in your freezer as soon as possible, put a bottle of gin in the freezer (I go with Beefeater), put some Schweppes tonic water in the fridge and get some fresh lime. By Monday evening, you’ll have plenty of fresh ice, ice cold-syrupy gin, and cold tonic. Since you’ll be outside, you’ll probably want to skip the glass and use plastic. If you are going the disposable route, I recommend Solo brand cups. Anyhow here is how you make the drink:

Cut fresh lime into quarters (limes cost no more than 70¢ so don’t be skimpy)
Squeeze lime juice into the bottom of the cup
Rub the rim of the cup with lime
Place lime in the bottom of but, rind down
Remove gin from freezer and pour directly into lime at the bottom of the cup. Gin should reach the top of the lime.
Add ice, I use 6 cubes from a icemaker or 4 from an ice tray
Pour entire contents of Schweppes tonic water over ice
Stir the drink
Enjoy

See, really easy to have a really refreshing drink which you should enjoy responsibly. You’ll probably be on the patio, sundeck or balcony when you do so you’ll be so relaxed you wouldn’t even think of driving a car of operating heavy machinery. When you’ve had enough, switch to ginger ale and lime for further refreshment without the side effects.

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District Drafts - Local beers at Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.

Local beer is a part of DC’s past and now it’s present and the Nats are helping

We are three years into the greater Washington D.C. brewing revival and things are going well. The Washington Business Journal covered it in a recent issue.

With craft brewing boom, D.C.’s beer scene returns to its regional roots

The one thing that today’s beer businesses have in common with the District’s brewers of old? A regional focus.

The heyday of Washington brewing was probably in the 1850s and 1860s, when tons of breweries sprung up to produce lager for the many Union soldiers stationed around the city. Eventually, the smaller, family-owned breweries closed, leaving about six huge breweries serving the region.

Those breweries were well known and respected businesses, according to Peck. Their founders also owned real estate, started banks and operated rail networks. Robert Portner, whose brewing company sat where Trader Joe’s is now located on Washington Street in Alexandria, distributed his beer by rail throughout the south.

The largest Washington brewer, and the only one that survived Prohibition, was the Christian Heurich Brewing Co. (Heurich sold ice during the 1920s to keep his business solvent.) Booze may have been able to flow freely, but that didn’t mean all was well for the brewer. One side effect of “The Noble Experiment” was the strengthening of huge, national beer companies.

“By the 1930s, there had emerged a national media market for advertising, so the ones who best competed in that were the national brewers, rather than the regional brewers like Heurich,” Peck said. “The smaller brewers couldn’t compete, and the national beer market really consolidated in the years after Prohibition.”

Make sure you read the rest of the story, along with this one, How the Nats are feeding D.C.’s beer industry:

Nationals Park. The home of the Washington Nationals, which first, added local craft beer offerings to its concessions last year with two District Draft carts featuring local brews, is adding two more carts this year. And some local craft beers will be sold on draft and in cans throughout the season at the Red Porch and at other Baseline Brew locations throughout the stadium.

The Nationals expect to increase the amount of craft beer sold at the District Draft carts by 50 percent — from about 40 kegs per home stand last year to at least 60 kegs per home stand this year.

“I don’t expect it to double, but it’s going to be tough to tell,” said Jonathan Stahl, senior director of guest experience and hospitality operations for the Nationals. “What we don’t know right now is are we just spreading the same crowd from last year or are we going to be appealing to a broader audience. I think it’ll be somewhere in between.”

I’ve been working on a story on the local craft brew industry — Shameless plug: The story comes out in our Friday print edition — and the demand from the Nationals repeatedly came up during interviews.

The stadium will feature beer from most of the big names in local brewing: D.C. Brau, 3 Stars Brewing Co., Atlas Brew Works, Port City Brewing Co., Mad Fox Brewing Co. and Flying Dog Brewing Co.

The relatively new Atlas Brew Works might have the biggest presence, with plans for its beers to be featured at both the carts and on draft at the Red Porch during each home stand.

There is even more exciting Nats beer news:

In addition to offering more local craft beer throughout the stadium, the Nats are also launching a new promotion: Firkin Fridays, which will feature two local beers in cask on Fridays of each home stand. First up on opening day, April 4, will be beers from D.C. Brau and Flying Dog, although the exact beers haven’t been finalized yet.

Yesterday, Atlas Brew Works announced that a new beer brewed exclusively for the ballpark – Atlas Brew Works Teams Up with the Washington Nationals to offer The 1500 South Cap Lager Exclusively at Nationals Park:

The 1500 South Cap Lager, named after the address of Nationals Park, is a 4.8% Helles lager that will be a great compliment to a sunny day in the stands. “The 1500 is an American spin on a traditional German style pale lager. It features light malt notes and earthy American hops,” said Will Durgin, Atlas’ Head Brewer. The beer will be available at locations throughout the three levels of the ballpark the Red Porch Restaurant in Center Field Plaza.

I am eager to try it, though I wish the press release came out on a day other than April 1.

It’s great to see the Nats are embracing the local brewing scene and probably good business for them too. Given a choice of marked up beers available, I’m inclined to support the local one, even if it’s a dollar or two more.

Nationals Park is said to be the 5th best ballpark for craft breweries (WTOP) and that was before this year’s upgrades. There are new foods available too (DC Sports Bog, The Post), though I’ll stick to Ben’s half-smokes.

It’s a great time to be a beer drinker and baseball fan in BeltwayLand and I think it’s only getting better.

UPDATE

I’ve added DC Sports Bog’s post about the beer in the ballpark: The local craft beer at Nats Park

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District Drafts - Local beers at Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.

Port City turns 3; DC Brau expands distribution; more local stands at Nationals Park

It’s time for yet another round up of the greater Washington D.C. area brewing scene.

Business is BrewingNorthern Virginia Magazine

PORT CITY TURNS 3
Port City bar
January 31 is the third anniversary for Alexandria’s Port City Brewing Co. They are celebrating with COLOSSAL THREE, a Hellerbock. There are several other events going on.

Some bad news if your like oyster beer though:

DC BRAU INCREASES DISTRIBUTION
Sunday's lunch - chili half-smoke with DC Brau
DC BRAU EXPANDS DISTRIBUTION THROUGHOUT MARYLAND
Brewery Teams with Legends Ltd to Distribute Flagship Brews in 20 Counties & Baltimore City

Washington, DC – Get ready, Maryland, DC Brau is coming! Fans of DC BRAU in Baltimore, Annapolis and even as close to DC as National Harbor won’t have to wait much longer to enjoy the brewery’s offerings at their favorite locals. Starting this week, DC BRAU will begin working with Legends Limited (http://greatbrewers.com/legends-limited) to distribute five of its signature beers in 20 more counties in Maryland, plus Baltimore City.

DC Brau launches Eastern Pennsylvania distribution with Bella Vista next week

MORE LOCAL BEER AT NATIONALS PARK THIS SUMMER
District Drafts

In a press release about the Washington Nationals extending their agreement with Levy Restaurants was buried this good news:

Fan favorite spot, District Drafts, will have two new locations – creating a total of four locations around the park – and feature local taps from DC Brau, 3 Stars Brewing Company, Port City Brewing Company and more.

Now at least $9 beers will be local!

SAVOR

Savor, The “the benchmark event in craft beer and food pairing”, returns to its Washington, D.C. home, at the National Building Museum, on May 9 and 10, 2014″ features several local & regional breweries according to YOURS FOR GOOD FERMENTABLES.

LAST YEAR IN BEER

2013: The Year in Beer

Best Of 2013: The Year In Beer, Reviewed DCist

VOTE YOUR FAVORITE LOCAL BREWERY
I’ve seen at least two breweries tweet a link to the CityPaper’s Best of D.C. Readers Poll already.

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Suntory is trying to buy Jim Beam Brands which is fine if we get Bill Murray bourbon ads out of it

Suntory, best known for distilling Japan’s first and probably best known whiskey, plans to buy Beam Brands.

BEAM & Suntory: Not a Foreign ConceptThe Bourbon Review

A Bold Move by SuntoryThe Times

My Old Osaka Home: Suntory of Japan to Buy Maker of Jim BeamThe Times

Soon To Be Big In Japan, Jim Beam’s Roots To Stay In KentuckyNPR

I’ll skip the outcry, because most spirits are owned by multinational conglomerates now. I feel differently about beer though, oddly enough.

Any how, if we get some Bill Murray bourbon ads, it is probably worth it:

By the way, here is the breakdown of which multinational corporations own which whiskeys

h/t @ryansholin for the graphic.

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