I like a fancy brunch as much as the next person, but sometimes all you want is the basics. This was exactly what we were looking for a couple of weekends ago at Ari’s Diner, a new classic American diner in Ivy City.
We stopped in on a Saturday mid-morning, and the place was bustling. The space at Ari’s Diner is small with a bar counter stretching the length of the restaurant on one side and large booths on the other. We waited about ten minutes to get a booth, not bad considering the size of the crowd.
Ari’s serves all of your diner breakfast and lunch favorites, with a couple of surprises, focusing on fresh, high-quality ingredients. We started with steaming cups of Compass Coffee and a fruit plate (fresh indeed with a whole banana, oranges, pineapple and apple – no filler melon here) while mulling over the tantalizing menu.
Although I really wanted one of everything, I couldn’t pass up the DC omelet with half smoke, onion, cheddar and mumbo sauce.
This was tasty, though maybe better in theory than reality. The half smoke was delicious, but I couldn’t detect any hints of the mumbo sauce and the texture of the omelet was more of a scramble. I ordered grits instead of potatoes, and our server was very apologetic about the mistake but sadly, I never ended up receiving the grits. The potatoes were actually quite good, just not what I was craving.
We fared better with Tom’s selection – the Ari’s diner plate with two eggs, two pancakes, turkey sausage, hash potatoes and whole wheat toast. This order is so large it actually arrived on two plates and could easily feed to people for $13.
This dish gave us all of our favorite breakfast items, cooked perfectly – especially the fluffy pancakes, which we ended up fighting over. The only slight complaint was the toast was served dry, and we were never offered any butter or jam to go with it. We would have asked for some, but although our server was very friendly he was running a mile a minute trying to keep up with an overload of tables.
Although we’d already eaten enough to keep us full for the rest of the day, we couldn’t leave without trying a couple of adult beverages – after breakfast drinks if you will. I opted for a bloody Mary while Tom went big with a boozy Mexican chocolate malt.
The bloody was standard, though a little chunkier than I typically prefer. The Mexican chocolate malt, however, knocked our socks off. I can’t say we tasted much alcohol in the drink (we were told it was spiked with bourbon), but that didn’t really matter because the shake itself was absolutely incredible and oh so decadent. It was the literal cherry on top of a very satisfying breakfast.
It does seem that Ari’s Diner has a little work to do in order to catch the level of service up to the weekend crowds, but with pancakes and malts this good I’m willing to wait out the growing pains.
What is your favorite diner order? I’ve got to have some eggs, but pancakes are the ultimate breakfast treat.