Double T: A ’50s Experience at a Regional Diner Chain
When I was attending college about 15 minutes outside of Baltimore one of the favorite places for a late-night snack, drink, meal, dessert, you name it was the 24-hour Double T Diner along route 40 in Catonsville, Maryland. This regional diner chain features a massive menu of just about any food you might crave after a hard night of cramming for finals. And the food is a cut above most greasy spoon fare in quality. Want a hearty breakfast at 3 in the afternoon? Choose from an array of pancakes and waffles, eggs and omelets, and more. If you’re more in the mood for lunch or dinner food, you have any array of soups, salads, sandwiches, and pastas to choose from, as well as meat, poultry, fish, and vegetarian entrees. Finally there is the glass dessert case at the front of the diner, showcasing tantalizing handmade cakes, pies, and pastries like cannolis and eclairs.
The Double T is managed by a trio of Greek brothers, and this ethnic influence is shown in the menus. Try the Moussaka (like a Greek lasagna) or the “Village Style Greek Chicken” with lemon and garlic sauce. If Greek food isn’t to your liking, you’re bound to find something that is. Last time I frequented the Double T, for example, I enjoyed linguine with mussels — not really what you think of when you think “dinner food”! All entrees are served with a cup of the soup of the day and a fresh garden salad; “soups of the day” may include the delicious Maryland crab as well as more standard offerings like chicken noodle and basic vegetable. All Double T’s offer a full bar, senior citizens’ and children’s menus, and carryout options.
The Double T gained its name from Thomas and Tony, the original owners who opened the first of the area diners in 1959. In 1987 the business was sold to John, Tom, and Louie Korologos. The brothers currently operate regional Double T locations in Annapolis, Bel Air, Catonsville, Ellicott City, Frederick, Pasadena, Perry Hall, and White Marsh. With eight locations to choose from, the Double T combines the convenience of a restaurant chain with an authentic diner feel, complete with stainless steel architecture and jukeboxes.
Chef’s Secret: A Hidden Thai Gem
When I was younger my family and I regularly ate at this small restaurant off Route 193 in Greenbelt. At the time it didn’t really make too much of an impression on me, either positive or negative, but when I went back more recently I was pleasantly surprised. Siri’s Chef Secret is one of Metropolitan Washington DC’s more unique dining options in that it features both Thai and American cuisine. As someone who is not the world’s most adventurous eater, I used to order mostly from the American options, but lately I’ve been enjoying expanding my palate with Chef’s Secret’s mouth-watering Thai specialties.
Chef’s Secret’s American menu features a wide array of seafood entrees ranging from fried classics like fish and chips and fried shrimp or scallops to flounder, tilapia, and salmon. Other choices include chicken marsala, baby back ribs, and broiled sirloin. Thai options include Thai curries, a variety of seafood dishes, and chicken or beef flavored with basil, as well as traditional appetizers like chicken satay with peanut sauce and delicate vegetable spring rolls.
The squat building down the street from Beltway Plaza, strip malls, and fast food joints may not look like much from the outside. However, once inside you’ll discover that Chef’s Secret really is one of suburban Washington’s secret gems. The friendly service and unique and peaceful ambiance are on par with the food. With a menu mixing traditional Thai food and familiar American classics, Chef’s Secret is the perfect place to take large groups with varying tastes.