America's Classic: C. F. Folks


1225 19th Street NW, Washington, D.C. 
Owner: Art Carlson


Art Carlson’s weekday-only lunch haunt on Dupont Circle, open since 1981, is a 600-square-foot temple of honest cooking and goodwill. (The name combines the initials of Carlson and his business partner, Peggy Fredricksen.) The vibe is loud and scrappy, and the food is delicious. Art Carlson, the ever-present host, is one of the last of a dying breed: a hands-on owner who schmoozes and teases his customers, often at the same time.


The place, with its 11 counter stools, is comfortable in its age. Behind the long Formica counter, racks of cookbooks from Julia Child and fellow titans share space with scribbled postcards, a rattletrap stereo system, a collection of old political campaign buttons, and a jumble of knickknacks including a Presidential Barbie and dusty cans of Alpo and Cheez Whiz.


The cooking is in the hands of George Vetsch, a veteran... Read more >

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