The Diner, not to be confused with other diners in DC, has been around for a long time. As a staple in the Adams Morgan neighborhood, I can attest to hanging out there a long time ago. So when a friend mentioned that they had some vegan items on the menu, I was more than pleased to give them a try.
We walked in on a slow Saturday night and were immediately seated in the back. They do not take reservations are typically very busy so this was a nice surprise. The Diner is a 24/7 diner that serves a full menu at all times, with some exceptions. It is not decorated like a 50's diner like most, but instead has white walls, a high ceiling, and plain wood tables.
To start, I ordered a lemonade and some kale chips. As we perused the menu, it appeared there were two vegan entrees -- pan-fried seitan with gluten-free mac & cheese or just mac & cheese on its own. So we both went with the seitan.
The kale chips arrived and to my surprise, they were hot. I guess I've only had raw kale chips so warm ones were a nice change. They were really good and simply seasoned with some hot peppers, olive oil, and salt.
The entrees arrived and they weren't exactly what we were expecting. The menu online had called the entree "chicken-fried seitan" and we hadn't noticed that the menu at the restaurant had changed it to "pan-fried seitan," but with the same description. It looked very plain -- just seitan on a plate with steamed green beans and mac & cheese. As we dug in, we quickly discovered that it tasted exactly as it looked -- plain. The seitan, while it had a nice flavor, was just pan fried and chewy with no gravy or anything. It would have been great if they had served it with some sort of sauce -- a mushroom gravy or red wine roux or something. The green beans were just steamed -- no seasoning. And the mac & cheese was more like mac & peas as it had zero taste. This tasteless concoction sort of looked like mac & cheese with peas, but had zero flavor whatsoever. My friend that I was eating with was from Texas and proclaimed that this was not at all what he expected and remarked that the seitan tasted like a shoe. Yeah.
I'm glad that The Diner has made an effort to serve vegan customers, but hope the options improve in the future. Thanks to our waitress, we had lots of options for hot sauce, which helped us gulp down the meal. The $11 entree was not overpriced, but given the lack of flavor, it wasn't worth it. The service was good though and maybe next time I'll just go back for the kale chips.
2453 18th Street NW
Washington, DC 20009