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"Great American" Cooking In Washington D.C.

Washington D.C. has seen an explosion in haute cuisine recently, with celebrity chefs and elaborate menus taking over the city. But sometimes simple cooking is all a stomach needs. That’s where Great American Restaurants and their numerous locations come in handy, satiating the desire for great food without fuss.

The company began in 1976 with an eatery in Annandale and has expanded to nine distinct restaurants in twelve locations. While each locale varies in terms of style and menu, every spot operates on the same principle of good yet reasonably priced food.

There’s wide variety in the group, from a seafood restaurant in Fairfax to a steakhouse in Springfield to a tavern in Merrifield. Wherever you choose, you can expect a great meal.


Red brick walls lend an adobe feel to the interior of Silverado, which was the company’s first location. The décor matches the restaurant’s style of cooking, a Southwestern/Tex-Mex/Southern blend.

What seems like a hard range to tackle is done deftly in the kitchen. Fajitas come out crackling on cast iron plates, blackened chicken breasts ring with Cajun spices and beef tips are married with tequila creating one of the most unique pasta dishes in D.C.

Whatever you order, be sure to grab a side of shoestring fries, which, cut paper thin, might be the area’s best.

Sweetwater Tavern

There are a decent number of breweries in the D.C. area, but not many can compare with the beers crafted at Sweetwater Tavern, which brews lagers and ales at three locations: Merrifield, Centreville and Sterling. The drafts rotate on a frequent basis, but almost any variety they make pleases the palate.

The cooking is as strong as the brewing. Aiming for a tavern feel, Sweetwater serves large portions of hearty food packed full of taste. Among their finer plates is the Drunken Rib Eye, a large slice of marbled beef marinated in the brewery’s Great American Pale Ale. It’s served with a side of whipped redskin potatoes that can leave an eater full for days.

Mike’s American

If the thought of steak tantalizes you, head to Mike’s American in Springfield. The large, sandy brick building is simple and unpretentious, just like the restaurant inside. The dining room is trimmed with dark mahogany, similar to most high-end steakhouses. But at Mike’s the fuss and pomp are nonexistent. All that matters is quality meat at affordable prices.

The prime rib is outstanding, on par with some of D.C.’s top restaurants. The biggest cut here costs just $35, and it is cooked to perfection, succulent and tender despite its size.

Coastal Flats

If meat is not to your liking, Great American offers something for the piscivore in everyone. Coastal Flats opened several years back in Fairfax and has already opened a second location in Tyson’s Corner. Fresh catches rotate daily, but be sure to order an appetizer staple of the restaurant,  the sweet and spicy calamari. A different take on the traditional squid dish, Coastal Flats eschews heavy breading and lets red pepper flakes shine and bite.  It’s served with pepper jelly, a blend of sweet jam and hot peppers that is unlike anything else out there.

These are just a few of the delicious places Great American Restaurants operates. Among the other locations are Ozzie’s Corner Italian, an Italian-style restaurant in Fairfax; Jackson’s Mighty Fine Food and Lucky Lounge in Reston, which also has a seafood slant; and Best Buns, a bakery in Shirlington.

And with nine different restaurants, Great American Restaurants can please anyone on any given night.


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