Skillet Diner is Unpretentious, Really Good Food

The brick-and-mortar sister of food truck Skillet Street Food is as good as we'd hoped.
Allison Austin Scheff  |   October 2011   |  FROM THE PRINT EDITION
Skillet’s southern fried chicken on a cornmeal waffle

You’ve gotta figure that a guy who builds his business out of an Airstream trailer has a sense of humor and a lightness of heart, and Josh Henderson’s Skillet Diner—the new brick-and-mortar sister of food truck Skillet Street Food—proves you right.

On the hottest new corner in “foodland,” 14th and Union (also home to the relocated Restaurant Zoë, Marjorie and Oola Distillery), Skillet Diner is a light-filled breath of fresh air, easygoing and upbeat, friendly to parents with kids and hipsters alike (imagine that!) and with really, really good food.

Possibly, you’ve already heard about the Belgian waffle with meltingly tender pork belly under two sunny-side-up eggs. I’ve ordered it twice, and both times: perfection. (It’s part of a breakfast menu that’s served from dawn ’til dusk.)

At dinnertime, the Salisbury rib-eye steak ($17) is plain great, the tender meat blanketed in a black peppery pan sauce over soft, buttery mashed potatoes. A shallow bowl of goat cheese dumplings ($16) with pulled pork shank, fresh garden peas and carrots, and Parmesan broth is like chicken ’n’ dumplings for grownup palates.

But mostly this is hearty, creamy, cheesy, yeasty comfort food—buttermilk “big boy” biscuits ($3), corn given a grilled char and rolled in Parmesan ($4), and specials like Monday’s meatloaf or Wednesday’s pot roast—served to folks parked on bar stools and banquettes upholstered in pale green pleather.

There are inconsistencies: The kale Caesar’s ($7) dressing was wan on one visit, but thick, cheesy and creamy the next; the fries, which co-star with that tasty burger ($14) dripping with bacon “jam” and blue cheese, can be sad and limp.

But mostly, Skillet is likable and unpretentious. In other words, just right. Allison Austin Scheff

Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Capitol Hill, 1400 E Union St.; 206.420.7297; skilletstreetfood.com $$