RE: Chili Parlor in Metro DC
Recently, I finally went to the Vienna Inn.
I don't know how to review this place.
I went on a Sunday following a concert (and again on a more recent Sunday prior to a rehearsal).
It's a jean and t-shirt kind of place, with old and abused furniture, some old video arcade games from the 80's (and a newer ones from the 90's) The thin doors leading to the bathrooms are covered in graffiti, some of the bench seat cushins lack springs, or in some cases, the cushin. The wood panelled walls are covered with Vienna town softball and baseball team t-shirts and trophies from said teams - some t-shirt and trophies are old enough that the league and team no longer exists. And the booths are hand carved with the names of the people that have sat in them and the initials of the couples who were in love, at the very least, when they inhabited the booth. It has all the makings of a dive, but since it's in Vienna, where the low-end single family house is around $500,000 - the local clientel do not fit the typical dive crowd. And I suppose that, is largely part of the charm -an older town establishment, kept around for it's reminder of a simpler and much different past...not to mention the inexpensive food, beer and spirits.
The Sunday menu is actually the late-night menu - hot dogs, hamburgers, some sandwiches, soup (but no soup on Sundays,) brats, and bar appetizers like mozzarella sticks, fries (and optional toppings like chili, cheese, gravy (but no gravy on Sundays)), nachos, onion rings, etc.
They have a decent beer selection, thanks to a nice bottle selection. On tap is bud, bud lite, miller lite, coors light, an interesting and quite good Pale Ale, The Vienna Inn Ale (which is simply Dominion Ale) and Red Hook. Bottles include some nice german imports and american microbrews.
The chili-cheese dog all the way (onions) is their specialty hotdog. The hotdog meat itself is unimpressive. Just a regular dog. The bun, is just a regular white bun. The cheese is just the typical nacho cheese topping you can find anywhere. The chili, though, is unique and thankfully, makes the whole chili-cheese dog experience worth the trip - although heartburn does ensue for the weak stomached. They load the chili on the hotdogs too, which is dangerous, because they serve the hotdogs in those little paper hotdog holders (about the same paper support as an auto-drip coffee filter), so the hotdogs love to tip over. I suggest eating these with a fork and knife. One seems like not enough, but two is definately filling.
The Italian cold cut sandwich, which I had on my return visit, was better than I anticipated. While the hoagie bread was nothing special, the deli meats they chose (pepperoni, spicy capicola, and genoa salami) were pretty good meats. The sandwich also had a mild provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and a side of Italian dressing that you could either pour on the 10" sandwich (cut in 2 halves) or dip the sandwich into the small bowl.
Although I was not blown away on my first visit, the place is growing on me. Hopefully, I'll get there on a Saturday so that I can experience the full menu options.