Photos By Nicholas Karlin, Words By Brandon Wetherbee
Best for: Real diner fans, still tries to welcome everyone. Needs to be open 24 hours.
More diners. D.C. needs more diners. I may be romanticizing a time when it was possible to be a college student ‘writing’ a paper in a diner at 2 a.m. with limitless coffee and seemingly limitless cigarettes but more diners, please.
Ari’s Diner is a welcome addition to the D.C. dining scene. It looks and feels like a diner as best as a new diner can. It serves good food at reasonable prices. Most of the food is diner staples, which means it’s not good for your body but will please your taste buds. Some of the menu is for more health conscious people, which means it’s not good for a real diner but will please most D.C. diners taste buds.
Located in Ivy City, Ari’s is in a great location for a diner. Ivy City didn’t have a diner before Ari’s. In fact, most D.C. neighborhoods don’t have diners and that’s a shame. Anyway, the Ivy City location is telling. The neighborhood is primed to be frequented by a lot of people. Diners are meant for lots of people.
I go to diners for three things: coffee, omelets (or breakfast in general but in my 34 years, I’ve never ordered 2 eggs with toast and bacon) and a Monte Cristo. Burgers and fries and shakes are occasionally ordered but that’s few and far between. Ari’s Diner Monte Cristo has everything I want in a Monte Cristo. The brioche bread is prepared better than I can ever do it at home, the ham, gruyere and mustard aren’t cheap and the maple syrup on the side is real maple syrup. The fries are fresh, not frozen, so they taste more like potatoes than ‘fries,’ which is what you want for dipping in syrup. It’s what I order because I’m never going to make a version this good at home. Also, I’m never going to willingly use powder sugar where I live. It’s the food equivalent of glitter.
For breakfast fans that don’t want an omelet, we can vouch for the waffles.
For people that want lactose with their booze, Ari’s offers Adult Shakes. This is a trend most of D.C. likes and I will never understand.
All in all, Ari’s is delivering on nearly everything we want in a diner. They’re also delivering some unnecessary options for more fickle eaters (Avocado toast, anyone? (Avocado toast is perfectly fine just not for us at a diner. Know your role, diner eaters)). Their one flaw (providing Avocado toast isn’t a flaw) is their hours. Until this week, Ari’s was only open for breakfast and lunch. As of this week, they’re open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. This will hopefully change. In order to be a real diner, it needs to be open 24 hours a day. The owners didn’t want to sacrifice quality or service, hence their limited hours. This makes sense but will hopefully change. You may not be able to smoke in diners at 2 a.m., but sometimes you still want to drink coffee and eat fries like a goth kid that hates their supporting parents in the middle of the night.