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Florida Avenue Grill

1100 Florida Ave., Washington, DC - (202) 265-1586
Posted By Michael Stern on 12/3/2015 4:37:00 AM
We’ve been fans of the Florida Avenue Grill since the first edition of Roadfood in 1978, but it opened before we were born. In all the time we've known it, it barely has changed. The only things different are new celebrity photos and endorsements on the wall. Some retired senators, congressmen, and members of the White House cabinet have been supplanted by current office holders. Curiously, though, entertainers and big name sports stars seem not to go out of style and most of their images remain long past their renown.

If by the preceding description of its famous clientele, you’ve gotten the notion that The Florida Avenue Grill is hifalutin or high-priced, please reconsider. It is anything but. A humble diner with a counter and booths, it serves meals that barely make it into the double-digit price range. As for being fancy, you’ll see taxicab drivers and blue collar workmen here shoulder to shoulder with the capital’s power players. Delicious cooking such as this knows no bounds of class or status.

We remember stopping by for lunch many years back and asking the waitress what was good that day. "Pig feets," she answered. Yes, you can come for seriously soulful soul food such as feets or chitlins, but you also can begin with more more mainstream things to eat. Spare ribs, for example, glazed with breathless hot sauce, rugged and satisfying: these are not yuppie baby back ribs; they are food that make you work, and when you do, they deliver tidal waves of flavor. Pork chops are like that, too: highly seasoned, meaty, and substantial, encased in brilliantly seasoned batter and fried to utmost succulence. For a tender meal, how about meat loaf? This meat loaf, particularly with a side of mashed potatoes and a heap of pungent collard greens, is one of the kitchen's unexpected triumphs, its coarse-textured meat shot through with potent spice. True to southern custom, there are lots of vegetables to accompany the entrees: candied sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, potato salad, rice, beans, peas, and always cornbread muffins for mopping up a plate.

For many fans of the Florida Avenue Grill, the prime meal of the day is breakfast. That's when you can have stacks of cinnamon-dusted pancakes, squares of scrapple and buff lengths of grilled half-smoke, corned beef hash, salmon cakes and grits, crusty fried potatoes, stewed spiced apples, buttermilk biscuits, and, of course, gravy.

If you value honest eats, this humble restaurant with its sprung-spring booths, pink counter, and red plastic stools is choice. It is cheap, fast, and the oh-so-hospitable waitresses make even us pale-faced strangers feel right at home.

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
pork chops
Half smoke
biscuits
Peach Cobbler
stewed apples
Catfish & Grits
country ham
Grits
meat loaf
Pancakes
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

Waitress Dee Ellerbe took great care of us and turned out to be a veritable good-will ambassador for a diner that is a national treasure.
"Waitress Dee Ellerbe took great care of us and turned out to be a veritable good-will ambassador for a diner that is a national treasure."
Michael Stern





This is ham with character! A couple of biscuits on the side and a dish of red-eye gravy are its perfect complement.
"This is ham with character! A couple of biscuits on the side and a dish of red-eye gravy are its perfect complement."
Michael Stern


Don't ignore the Florida Avenue Grill desserts.  The homey peach cobbler was the perfect way to end our meal.
"Don't ignore the Florida Avenue Grill desserts. The homey peach cobbler was the perfect way to end our meal."
Cliff Strutz


Pork chops are juicy, rich, and radiant with spice. With eggs and grits and biscuits (on the side), a grand breakfast.
"Pork chops are juicy, rich, and radiant with spice. With eggs and grits and biscuits (on the side), a grand breakfast."
Michael Stern


Fish, eggs, and grits (in a separate bowl) are a classic soul food breakfast. The fish can be bream, salmon cakes or -- pictured here -- catfish fillets.
"Fish, eggs, and grits (in a separate bowl) are a classic soul food breakfast. The fish can be bream, salmon cakes or -- pictured here -- catfish fillets."
Michael Stern


Sliced in half and grilled, the half-smoke is juicy, with plenty of smoky flavor.  A wonderful breakfast side meat!
"Sliced in half and grilled, the half-smoke is juicy, with plenty of smoky flavor. A wonderful breakfast side meat!"
Cliff Strutz


We don't know another wall anywhere where you see, cheek by jowl, Clarence Thomas, Strom Thurmond, Al Sharpton, and Marion Barry. People from all walks of life and every political stripe feel at home in this hospitable eatery.
"We don't know another wall anywhere where you see, cheek by jowl, Clarence Thomas, Strom Thurmond, Al Sharpton, and Marion Barry. People from all walks of life and every political stripe feel at home in this hospitable eatery."
Michael Stern


The cook and servers in a Christmas mood at the Florida Avenue Grill.
"The cook and servers in a Christmas mood at the Florida Avenue Grill."
Mike Spak


Florida Avenue Grill biscuits are a reminder that in some ways, at least culinarily, Washington, DC is very much part of the South. In the background is a bowl of spicy, soulful sausage gravy.
"Florida Avenue Grill biscuits are a reminder that in some ways, at least culinarily, Washington, DC is very much part of the South. In the background is a bowl of spicy, soulful sausage gravy."
Michael Stern


This photo was taken from a booth opposite the counter. Note the gallery of celebrity photos on the wall: they're all fans of the Florida Avenue Grill.
"This photo was taken from a booth opposite the counter. Note the gallery of celebrity photos on the wall: they're all fans of the Florida Avenue Grill."
Michael Stern


Waitress Dee Ellerbe told us that the second floor, which used to be living quarters, has become a small room suitable for parties, tastings, and functions.
"Waitress Dee Ellerbe told us that the second floor, which used to be living quarters, has become a small room suitable for parties, tastings, and functions."
Michael Stern


A superb combination plate ... for breakfast, lunch, or dinner: spiced stewed apples and a fried pork chop. In the background are over-easy eggs. Not shown: cornbread muffin.
"A superb combination plate ... for breakfast, lunch, or dinner: spiced stewed apples and a fried pork chop. In the background are over-easy eggs. Not shown: cornbread muffin."
Michael Stern


Although they are not the rich, creamy variety of grits, those served at the Florida Avenue Grill are thick and yummy, packing plenty of satisfying hominy flavor.
"Although they are not the rich, creamy variety of grits, those served at the Florida Avenue Grill are thick and yummy, packing plenty of satisfying hominy flavor."
Michael Stern



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