Food

Timeline: We’re in the Midst of a Diner Boom

A quick history of DC diners' evolution.
Timeline: We’re in the Midst of a Diner Boom
The 46-seat eatery on H Street, Northeast takes inspiration from New York-style diners, offering American and Mediterranean classics.
  • 1935

    Tastee Diner unveils its first location, in Bethesda. Outposts in Laurel and Silver Spring follow.

    Breakfast Diner Room

  • 1962

    Louis Cholakis and George Bilidas open Amphora in Vienna. But the area remains a diner desert: They import booths and walls from a New York diner manufacturer.

  • 1988

    The faux-’50s-retro American City Diner opens in Chevy Chase DC. Owner Jeffrey Gildenhorn’s billboard quotes get more attention than the food.

  • 1989

    The Silver Diner chain opens on Rockville Pike. It now has 14 locations—with plans for more over the next few years.

  • 1995

    The New York–style Metro 29 Diner debuts in Arlington with an on-site bakery.

  • 1998

    Tryst coffee shop owner Constantine Stavropoulos opens the Diner in Adams Morgan. Open until 2 am, it quickly be-comes a post-bar-crawl destination.

  • 2009

    Matt Ashburn transports a 1947 diner to DC’s Trinidad and runs Capital City Diner for nearly two years. In 2012, developer Edens buys it on eBay; it’s parked by Union Market and used for pop-ups.

  • 2013

    Silver Diner revamps its menu to include vegan and gluten-free options.

  • 2015

    Silver, an upscale Silver Diner spinoff, opens in Bethesda. All-day breakfast and apple pie are served alongside small plates and alcoholic milkshakes.

  • 2016

    Doron Petersan opens Fare Well, DC’s first vegan diner.

    Photograph of Fare Well By Jeff Elkins

  • 2016

    The old-timey Slim’s Diner opens in Petworth with a simple, under-$12 menu of patty melts and pancakes.

  • 2016

    Restaurateur Mark Bucher will open Community. Featuring a cocktail consultant and a menu developed by a Michel Richard–trained chef, the new eatery sits across from the Bethesda Tastee Diner.

Graphic by Manyun Zou.


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Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.