Discover Bethesda, Maryland...365 Days a Year!

Day 8: The Quintessential 'Greasy Spoon'

Tastee Diner

No review of Bethesda eating establishments, or Montgomery County for that matter, would be complete without mentioning the Tastee Diner located at 7731 Woodmont Avenue.  Founded in 1935, the Tastee Diner restaurants can be found in Bethesda, Silver Spring and Laurel and are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  The Silver Spring Tastee Diner was designated a Montgomery County Historic Landmark in 1994 and then immortalized in the syndicated comic strip Zippy the Pinhead.

When the nightlife dance scene in Bethesda begins to fizzle out, which is rather early in this town by the way, Tastee Diner is just starting to “cook” as throngs of hipsters stream in for something hot to eat.  Inside you’ll find the classic diner car setup.  A long linoleum counter with stainless steel trim and real swivel seats, and booths that evoke the feel of the old diner cars made from the mid 1920’s to late 1950’s, long before McDonald’s ruled the highway of food.  But what makes Tastee Diner special, and I like the Silver Diner chain as well, is it’s the real deal with down-home people running the show.  You can almost hear the waitress yell a little too loud, “Hey Cookie need an order of hash and eggs over-easy.”

This is not a place to escape for privacy and an intimate dining experience, but rather a blue-collar oasis to immerse yourself in your fellow-man and the commonality that comes from sharing a hamburger (never frozen), chipped beef or sausage gravy over a biscuit, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, breakfast served 24/7, or a hot cup of Joe (Maxwell House of course).

Our Booth

I decided Amy, transplanted from Seattle, WA, had to experience the Diner first-hand.  We arrived at 11:30 p.m. on Friday night and the experience was “classic” Tastee Diner.  We were promptly seated and greeted by our server Chris, an amiable young 20 something who quickly told us his shift ended at 6:00 a.m., “so take your time [with the order].”  He returned quickly with two tiny little water glasses and two balsa wood airplane kits! Diagonally across from our table a young woman lay slumped over the chair of her booth, completely intoxicated while her young male friend attempted to keep her from passing out.  He valiantly tried to lift her out of the booth to no avail.  A short-time later a huge cab driver appeared (who looked surprisingly like the Redskins’ Albert Haynesworth) and proceeded to dead-lift her limp body out of the booth and into his arms and off to the awaiting taxi cab outside.  Wow – maybe that’s where the expression “picking up a passenger” really comes from!  At last our cheeseburgers arrived with perfectly crispy fries and Amy experienced the finest late-night food this town has to offer.

Coffee & a balsa wood airplane

Amy’s last experience was a cup of hot coffee and some tea.  Tea Party that is!  As we paid the bill the cashier liberally dispensed his political views and somehow linked the “Obama administration and the Democrats” to the late-night shenanigans swirling around his establishment.  In summary Tastee Diner is the quintessential ‘greasy spoon’ we love at 2 a.m., long before we are sober. The Tastee Diner – the name suits it all too well. ~ Brian

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