To the list of places serving a Passover week menu, add the American City Diner, which is serving up a heaping dose of Jewish nostalgia and a generous side of cultural incongruity.
Throughout the holiday, the Connecticut Avenue diner — which doesn't invoke the '50s so much as it invokes '50s-style movies — has boxes of matzo sitting next to the jukeboxes on each table.
That's an odd sight. So is seeing a dish of jarred gefilte fish garnished with — in addition to horseradish, red onion and pickles — a small dab of … pico de gallo?
Then again … On the TV at one end of the kitchen, a Spanish-language soap is playing, and the manager and the cook communicate in rapid-fire Spanish on the preparation of a plate of fried matzo — an Eastern European-derived treat of broken pieces of matzo that have been coated in beaten egg and fried quickly.
It's also called matzo brei, although the waiter here has got the vowel wrong: It comes out sounding like something you'd make with unleavened bread and soft, pungent cheese. The dish is tasty, a savory version topped with chopped, greasy fried onions — exactly what you'd expect of a short-order restaurant.
The matzo ball soup is warming, and filling, a big, soft, slightly grainy matzo ball plunked down in the middle of a chicken broth full of shredded chicken.
To wash it all down? A terrific egg cream, which is already on the diner's extensive menu.
American City Diner, 5532 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-244-1949; Americancitydiner.com.