For the nine-to-fivers downtown, happy hours often become late nights, which often lead to hungover mornings, which often results in “I need an omelet inside a breakfast burrito rolled into a pancake.” Unfortunately, late-night/early-morning breakfast whenever spots are in short supply. Nestled between Nooshi and Science Club on 19th street, a shining beacon of hope has come to rescue K Streeters from their starved and drunken stupors – Olivia’s Diner.
Founded by best friends Tom and Tri (who are pictured above and who also graced the district with Pete’s New Haven Style Pizza), Olivia’s Diner is bringing comfort food to K Street. The restaurant’s modern décor is accompanied by American classics, striking the perfect balance between downtown DC and local diner.
According to them, it’s nothing foo-foo – just delicious food. A trip to Olivia’s is exactly what Washingtonians need when they miss home cooking. In fact, going to Olivia’s is kind of like meeting Tom and Tri’s own relatives, as the story of nearly everything in the restaurant is a family affair.
The name itself – Olivia’s – is for Tom’s daughter, who is also Tri’s goddaughter. As I made my way down the food and drink menus, nearly everything is associated with a family member or is something that would be cooking in a family kitchen.
The meal started off with Tom’s Mom’s deviled eggs, a top-secret recipe. A little tangy, a little sweet, subtly spicy – the only thing you can know for certain about this recipe is that it’s delicious.
For my entrée, I had The Kyle – house-made meatballs, spicy pomodoro, provolone and garlic-butter on a hoagie roll. While shamelessly stuffing my face, I learned it’s named for Tri’s nephew whose nickname is “Meatball.”
Like any grandma’s kitchen south of the Mason-Dixon line, Olivia’s has phenomenal biscuits and gravy that manage to feed both your stomach and soul. The biscuits are rectangular instead of round, have a consistency similar to cornbread and a subtle heat thanks to jalapeños. Covered in gravy and chunks of pork sausage, this is a standout dish every breakfast lover and/or hungover K Streeter MUST devour.
As a person who has 1) a bottomless pit for a stomach, 2) an insatiable sweet tooth and is 3) a pancake enthusiast, Olivia’s pancakes are the love I never knew I had. The cinnamon bun pancake topped with cream cheese frosting melts in your mouth and I’m already planning another trip for their pumpkin pancakes and bananas foster waffles. On the weekends bottomless pancakes are only $10, so Olivia’s is not only serving comfort food, but is also making dreams come true – NBD.
I finished off the night by sampling some cocktails and fell in love with The Cathy, a relative of Tri’s who apparently likes grand marnier, cranberry and lime juice. From my first appetizer, to my final drink, everything was delicious. Tom and Tri kindly explained nearly every dish and drink, as well as the loved ones for which they’re named. It’s all in the family at Olivia’s, and by the end of the night, you feel like part of the family.
I encourage you, hungry reader, to run, walk, bike, or drunkenly stumble to 19th street to indulge in Olivia’s comfort food. Whether you want old bay boneless wings at 10 AM, or a banana-granola pancake at 9 PM, this place will serve what you want, exactly when you want it.