Wednesday, October 8, 2008

the diner vs. tryst vs. open city

Like most people, I'm a bit of a conundrum. I like brunch, but I hate Bloody Marys. I like coffee cake, but I hate coffee. I like ketchup, but hate tomatoes. It's weird.

Anyrandomsh*t, what I'm trying to get at is that, despite being owned by the same people, I have very different feelings toward three DC establishments -- The Diner, Tryst and Open City. I strongly dislike one, find another extremely annoying and heart the other. But, let's start with what this blog does best -- dissecting the bad.


I've been to a lot of diners in my excessively retardulous life -- from cheap authentic Midwestern truck stops to pricey 1950's replicas in Moscow, Russia. Within these establishments, I've ordered up a lot of grilled cheeses, fries, burgers, 24-hour breakfasts and malts in the last 29 years. While I think the former is the best there will ever be as far as American greasy spoons go and the latter an abortion on the face of diners everywhere (I resoundingly do not recommend Moscow's Starlight Diner), Adams Morgan's The Diner somehow falls nowhere in between. For lack of anything more artfully worded, The Diner is straight nasty -- nastier even than Russian bastardizations of those aforementioned American classics. (Seriously, vegetarian bacon tastes better than the dermo, I mean d*rmo, served up at Starlight. Honestly, I question to this day whether it was pig.)

But back to the gnarliness at hand. The Diner just doesn't cut it. I like that it's open 24 hours per day, seven days per week, of course, but I hate that they served me a soggy grilled cheese and limp French fries. Freedom fries, they were not!

My friend who lives in the neighborhood has eaten there more than once and has never been quite satisfied with the food either. The poached eggs were overcooked while the scrambled eggs came out raw; the malt was a bit over-malted and had the consistency of frozen Ovaltine; and the prices, well, while not as ridiculous as the jacked up amounts for the jacked up "American" food in Moscow, they don't exactly meet standard diner expectations, which I became accustomed to in high school. For the love of Kraft Singles on Wonderbread, I miss being able to get a delicious grilled cheese and fries platter for $2.00. But then again, people refuse to spend $1,000-plus to rent a sh*tty apartment in the Midwest too, so I suppose by East Coast standards, The Diner is a damn fine deal. Especially if you hate your taste buds.


I'll admit Tryst intrigues me. I really like the idea of coffee shops, despite my aversion to coffee. I like the idea of having a casual space that has the atmosphere of a bar, but is made for daylight hours; a place in which a person can come alone and possibly meet new people; an establishment that encourages conversation, the exchange of ideas and impromptu chatter. Granted it's a little bit like walking into the set of Friends circa 1997, but Tryst seemingly has all the goods to make random, fun sh*t happen. It boasts an inviting environment, comfortable seating and excellent spots for people watching or potentially meeting. However, instead of utilizing that unique and spacious interior set-up, Tryst's clientele all come to do, um, homework? Write novels? Play World of Warcraft? Seriously, every effing person in there is staring at their laptops.

What is so damn important to be done on a Saturday afternoon? And do you absolutely need to put all your law school books on the adjacent seat next to you? Now I can't stand a lot of people. Having once famously said (and by "famously said," I mean, I once said it obscurely on this blog) that I think I'm smarter than 95 percent of the population, I probably don't come off as the most personable of people persons in the world, but I am not such a big a-hole that I would rather have my books sit next to me than another human being. OK, if that other human being, of course, was in that tiny 5 percent sliver of legitimately awesome homo sapiens. OK, so maybe I'd rather have my books sitting next to me, too. But come on! Hypocritical points aside, there's got to be a limit on this kind of self-important behavior going on at Tryst, and probably coffee shops in general.

I'm not suggesting a ban on laptops, but maybe they could fence them all off in a corner somewhere, leaving the rest of civilized society to enjoy their lattes, cappuccinos, espressos and, in my case, iced tea without hearing the clicking and clacking of their stupid overpriced Macbooks. And I say this as a blogger who uses a Mac and recognizes just how annoying I can be. Good Lord, I am annoying! But I'm annoying in private.

Also, I can't imagine having some iPod-wearing 19-year-old college kid updating his Facebook for three hours is good for business. That kid probably comes in, orders one chai tea latte and sits around all afternoon taking up valuable space. However, this doesn't seem to bother Tryst's owners. In fact, it seems the owners are actually encouraging this kind of anti-social behavior via an absolutely baffling widget on their Web site called "I Saw You at Tryst." And yes, it is as retarded as it sounds.

ISYAT is a Tryst-specific "Missed Connections." Missed Connections is already a bit ridiculous (just f*cking talk to people!), but I can see a purpose for it in rare instances. Maybe you do notice someone noticing you, as it were, and there is some sort of legitimate reason why you weren't able to approach the other. Say, your husband or wife shows up. (Wait, what?) Then, perhaps, Missed Connections is a useful forum. But a Tryst-specific forum? You have to be a legitimate retard to use this. Honestly. Take, for instance, these actual examples straight from ISYAT:

From: reggie 10.06.08 3:27 PM
Message for: EARPHONE MAN
what is it you're writing with those earphones on?

From: threeideas 09.22.08 5:56 PM
i thought you were cute. maybe we'll see each other again.

Now, if you'll allow me (well, you don't have a say, really), I'd like to address Reggie and threeideas personally. Ahem...

Dear Reggie,

I just went over this. Earphone Man is updating his Facebook. He's not doing anything interesting or important. Next time, if you're that interested, then just go f*cking over there and ask him.

Stop being an dipsh*t,

The Anti DC


Dear threeideas,

What the hell is an "IL BOOK READER?" Illinois? No one even f*cking understands what you're talking about, so how in hell would anyone even be able to answer you? And here's a better question: Would any rational person really want to answer you on such a ridiculous and pointless forum anyway? I don't know. Maybe it's crazy, but did ya think of -- oh, this is such a wild idea! -- F*CKING GOING OVER THERE TO ASK?!

Stop putting the dumb in dumbass...and the ass,

The Anti DC

O! Tryst! Please stop this circle of annoying e-shambles, so I may enjoy a mid-afternoon refreshing beverage without squeezing in between so many self-important bitches updating their blogs! If I wanted to be surrounded by that much dorkiness, I'd simply sit between two parallel mirrors and sip an iced tea in the company of an infinite number of Marissa's in my own home, which is how I compose all of my blog posts. I'm, in fact, doing that right now. We all say hello.


To be continued...CLIFFHANGER!


N said...

Fox news was also baffled by the laptop people at Tryst. Oh snap, did I just compare to fox news? More importantly, did I just say "oh, snap"?|typing%20vs.%20talking

I-66 said...

The thought of infinite yous just made my head combust.

Lemmonex said...

I am not expecting top notch service at the diner by any means, but it seems the wait staff needs some help at the Diner. The few times I have been there, I have always had to chase someone for a coffee refill.

Marissa said...


Oh man...I felt bad about myself for a hot second until I realized that I'm not retarded. I'm not baffled by the idea of bringing laptops to a coffeeshop, just annoyed by it. Although, I do get behind Fox's usage of the woman who noted her hatred of Fox News and the "reporter" on camera. At the end when they implied that she hated all humanity because she hates Fox News? That made me LOL. Keepin' it fair and balanced! On the other hand, that is quite rude and pretty stupid to even give them such material to work with. Oh, DC!


It's how I feel every day. It's amazing.


Oh damn! I never had any problems with the waitstaff...but I sat at the counter. One awesome thing that did happen to my friend, however: She was in there really late one night and some couple randomly offered shots of Hennessy. Too bad those customers can't be there all the time.

Jack said...

I have a friend who met his ex wife at Tryst. To this day he says it is the worst coffee place on the planet. I think he's a little sensitive about it.


Arjewtino said...

I, too, hate Bloody Marys.

Finally, I am not alone.

nate said...

As I usually go far out of my way to avoid being anywhere near AM, I've only been to the diner once. And, while I've happily tossed back frozen burritos, 7-11 nachos and even horribly lame attempts at brooklyn style pizza while drunk, the food at that place is some of worst I've had. Plus, diners just aren't supposed to be that trendy. I say Booo, The Diner.

suicide_blond said...

you can love brunch and hate bloody marys...with mimosas...
however...loving tryst... is gonna take more for me...
its the people not the place... like you said...look up doofus and just say..HI...rrgh..

Hey Pretty said...

In terms of food they're all mediocre.

Anonymous said...

I have to comment on that whole "missed connections" thing. You opened my eyes to a new form of "Get-a-god-damn-life-and-stop-thinking-your-life-is-going-to-end-up-as-some-cheesy-ass-lifetime-movie" syndrome. Seldomly, I feel you fulfill your intended purpose of enlightening the world with your views, and today, I found entertainment. Now see, that's the shi* you should be writing about. Not politics. Kudos to you from a different world.

Truly yours,
Your buddy.

Elle Gee said...

OMG I want a "your buddy" like that!!

I've been trying to restrain my commenting lately so as not to appear a Marissa-estalker, but I've got to put in my 2 cents.

When I lived in A-M (in case you haven't noticed the other times I've bragged, I'm now living in NYC, wheee!) I despised the Diner, except for the macaroni and cheese. I could NOT get enough of that stuff. Dunno why. Dang now I want some.

Loved Tryst. On a recent work-related trip I decided to do my work there on a weekday morning... and BAM it was CLOSED! Renovations? Loss of liquor license? I forget; there were signs. I like people-staring, and I used to try to guess which douchebag was going to write ISYATs about whom. I'm lame.

Open City confuses me. There's wifi, there's a smattering of people working, but it's also really restauranty (as in, it would be really awk to do your homework there). It's bright and sunny and the waitstaff is attractive but man the food sucks, and is the most overpriced of all three...

Um, so forget DC, keep up the NYC recommendations, yah? Muji was a gem!

BAD said...

If I buy you a George Foreman grill, will you promise never to order grilled cheese in a restaurant again?

maryjanejeff said...

The grilled cheese I had this morning from Diet to Go rocked! Oh wait, never mind, we're dissing Tryst (which I have no desire to ever go to), and Fox News; Yeah! As reliable as the Iraqi Information Minister (who at least was unintentionally funny) and Cuban birth certificates, maybe even less so.

Where are good coffee places in DC, for those of us who live in semisuburbia? Caribou makes a better than I thought iced coffee but that's not what I'm looking for.

maryjanejeff said...

Shoot, I forgot something. When in AM, which isn't often, I like going to Ghana Cafe actually. Eats are good and there's a solid variety of beers too.