Striking gold at the Silver Diner

The Silver Diner
3200 Wilson Blvd.
Arlington, VA
(703) 812-8600
Silverdiner.com
Open 7 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday
7 a.m. to 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday

It’s Friday night and your evening so far has been a bust. It’s only 1 a.m., so you can’t go to sleep, but you don’t want to stay in your dorm. What’s left, other than finding a bar or watching a movie? Set down that remote, grab a friend and a jacket and make your way to the Metro. After a short ride to the Clarendon stop and a two-block walk, your boredom will be cured in a huge, shiny silver, one-story building. Walk through the doors and the Silver Diner staff will take you back to the 1950s.

New Jersey natives, beware! This isn’t the kind of diner you’re used to. There isn’t a huge cloud of cigarette smoke greeting you at the door, there are no regulars sitting at the counter and the service is standard, at best. The Silver Diner tries to replicate the diners of the ’50s, where kids would go after to school to share a soda. The quasi-old fashioned surroundings may make you feel more like Michael J. Fox in “Back to the Future” than a sock-hopper, but go with the flow.

But the old-fashioned theme stops with the decorations and music, as the menu showcases plenty of decidedly non-1950s fare. After you put your nickels in the jukebox and make your selection, open the large menu and peruse the many options. With roasted garlic hummus and New England jumbo clam strips, the menu offers so many traditional and nontraditional options that you might want to budget menu- reading time into your schedule. Or perhaps during your time travel back to the ’50s you decided you were hungry for breakfast. If that’s the case, you can shave four pages and 15 minutes off your reading time and focus solely on the breakfast menu.

Luckily, breakfast is available all day and night, and the food is always delicious. But the breakfast menu itself is pretty daunting, with three huge pages of waffles, eggs, omelets and pancakes. The Ultimate Strawberry French Toast is one of the more decadent choices. Four cinnamon-battered slices of challah bread are topped with fresh strawberries and drizzled with caramel. Syrup and a cinnamon sour cream (which tastes better than expected) come on the side. This dish is more like a dessert than a breakfast, so it can satisfy both cravings that made you go all the way across the river to Arlington.

Even so, it will be hard not to take a peak at the dinner selections – there are 11 varieties of Reuben sandwiches! But quantity doesn’t necessarily mean quality. The fried catfish Reuben is a force not to be reckoned with because it just doesn’t taste good. Stuffed with catfish and cole slaw, you may wonder why the sandwich is even called a Reuben, and honestly, I don’t have the answer to that question. If you love catfish, though, a safer option is the Mississippi fried catfish, which comes with mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet corn, string beans and Cajun-tartar sauce. This meal’s southern flavor may make you crave hush puppies and fried green tomatoes, but don’t bother asking your server for them; the Silver Diner doesn’t have them.

The hamburgers are always a safe bet. From the jumbo deluxe burger to the 3D cheeseburger, this standard diner option does not fall flat. In fact, the hamburgers are huge – either deluxe or triple-stacked “baby” burger patties arrive in your burger basket. Vegetarians should order the veggie burger, topped with Portobello mushrooms and low-fat cheddar cheese. Beware, though – this patty is cooked on the same grill as the hamburgers, so strict vegetarians should go for the salads or some of the breakfast options.

The “Classic Diner Entrees” section of the menu provides a variety of comfort foods reminiscent of Sunday dinner at grandma’s house. Whether it’s three large slices of meatloaf or a turkey dinner with stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, or even the chicken potpie, this is where the Silver Diner gets the diner part right.

From the chrome d?cor and pleather-cushioned booths to the small jukeboxes at every table, the Silver Diner, with its large seating area and even larger menu, resembles Johnny Rockets on a larger scale. And its late hours make the Silver Diner a clear winner. Put 10 dollars in your pocket, keep an eye on your watch so you don’t miss the last Metro, and get ready for some good eats. Go ahead, order one chocolate milkshake with two straws for you and your date. You don’t need poodle skirts and bobby socks to enjoy this blast from the past.

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