Open City hadn't been open one day before it was jam-packed. This Woodley Park eatery is the third establishment from the owner of Tryst and the Diner and it follows the same formula as its sister establishments, combining upscale diner food with coffeehouse amenities and a full bar. Owner Constantine Stavropoulis envisioned Open City as a neighborhood "third place," where one can habitually retreat after home and the office for a sense of balance and comfort.
The menu features breakfast items, standard appetizers that include a cream-cheese-heavy spinach and roasted garlic dip and spicy wings, several thin crust pizzas, mussels (with a choice of three preparations), a few salads, chicken and upscale meatloaf. Burgers are piled high with crispy lettuce and onions; there are plenty of other sandwich options, too. The chicken cheesesteak, one of the recommended sandwiches, is dull and flavorless. As for the bar, I didn't see the drink menu until after I had ordered my wine, but the jalapeno margarita, cucumber mojito and a few other clever cocktails could be enough to lure patrons back.
Service at Open City also leaves much to be desired. While the service is casual and friendly, it's not uncommon for servers to disappear for 10 minutes at a time.
There are plenty of things to love about Open City. Management plans to offer WiFi; breakfast is available anytime; the hours are long (6 a.m. until last call); and the coffee is good. But at least for the time being, Open City won't be my "third place." That type of special hang-out should be comfortable, with ample cozy seating and a friendly atmosphere. Open City -- with its frazzled servers and the deafening din of multiple conversations -- can feel more like Woodley Park's second zoo.
-- Erin Hartigan