If you’re looking for an old-fashioned diner that still retains its historical authenticity without selling out and becoming a chain like a certain metallic-named hit, then look no further than Tastee 29 Diner.
This roadside eatery is open all day everyday with full menu offerings from breakfast platters to dinner staples any hour you’re craving them. Opening in Fairfax County in 1947, the diner itself was dubbed a historical landmark by the National Register of Historic Places, the proof hangs proudly in plaque form as you exit the long, narrow stretch of service counter, paralleled by a strip of traditional booth seating. Above each booth hangs a small jukebox selling songs for $.50 a pop. You can whistle between bites to oldies tunes, country favorites or modern day hip-hop. Stationed at the end of the diner is a larger, old-style jukebox. On last visit, a group of children were huddled with their coins debating which letter and number correlated to just the right melody to move the diner’s patrons.
The menu featured all the traditional diner favorites, from Hamburger Steak ($5.95) to Waffles ($3.05) to Milkshakes ($2.50). After a long, fun night in Washington, D.C.’s Adams Morgan neighborhood, the only thing on my mind was fried eggs, hash browns and coffee that were able to compete with what I got at home on a typical Saturday morning. After matching my exact post-night out craving to 29 Diner’s offering of the Italian Sausage Breakfast Special ($5.35) — served with two eggs made to your liking, home fries and toast — coffee was simply the cherry on top. The food that was favorably comparable to my father’s famous homemade breakfast was special enough on its own.
Two eggs, sunny-side up and crisp on the edges, were paired with potato-y goodness and covered by a huge slice of Italian sausage and joined by an accompanying plate of toppling toast — all of this a steal for such a low price. I dug in and was immediately satisfied like a little kid who was just handed a hot fudge sundae.
The lunch portion of the menu is hardly lacking either. The Double Hamburger ($3.95) and French Fries ($1.25) makes a fine, if traditional, selection. Tomato, cheese or fried onions can be added to all burgers and sandwiches for just $.35 extra for each add-on.
As my guest and I finished our meal, or what we could manage to gobble up without getting a to-go box, we tested just how diverse the jukebox was. To give you a taste, for one dollar, we managed to force everyone in the diner to listen to Patsy Cline’s “Crazy,” Britney Spears’ “Crazy,” and Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.” Our randomness really could have been beat, though it’s up to you now to frequent this step back in time, try out your own DJ skills and report back.
Made to resemble a mobile home-like, road-side dining stop, Tastee 29 Diner reflects the 40s-style restaurant that was actually built with mobility in mind those days to move shop once a diner no longer had business in a certain area. For this now-stuffed, happy girl, I don’t think that Tastee 29 Diner will have a need to relocate anytime soon, as they’ll be getting my business and hopefully yours for a very long time.
Tastee 29 Diner
10536 Lee Highway
Fairfax, VA 22030
24-hour service 7 days a week