MOM AND POP eateries are in short supply nowadays, but Pop is still in the kitchen in Seat Pleasant. At Pop's and Son Barbecue, 6820 F St. (at Addison Road and Martin Luther King Boulevard), the partners are father Nate Brown and 20-year-old son Calvin.
Their carryout features ribs -- soft, mild and meaty rather than the chewy, deeply smoked kind -- and an array of house-made side dishes, from greens and long-stewed green beans to candied yams, creamy potato salad spiked with pickles and mustard and what the owners proudly call "five-star macaroni and cheese." Baked chicken and chitterlings are also on the menu daily, and each day has its specials: pork chops on Fridays, pigs' feet Saturdays and Tuesdays, and so on.
My favorite day is Wednesday, since that's when you can find Pop's superlative fried chicken, crunchy and juicy, lightly spiced and faintly sweet from a drizzle of honey. For dessert, there's likely to be a pretty good, not-too-sweet apple pie, a hefty slice for only $1.25.
THE ECONOMY is the hot topic of conversation this season, among restaurateurs as well as everyone else. But so far, words are speaking louder than actions.
On the Sunday before Columbus Day, when the government was shut down and the tourists were bored as well as hungry, Alexandria looked like high tourist season. Yet three new restaurants were closed tight. Fitzgerald's and What Nowe (formerly the Daily Catch) on King Street, and King Street Blues on North St. Asaph Street said that they don't open their doors on Sunday, at least for now. In the meantime, the King Street Murphy's was so busy it ran out of brunch food early.
SPEAKING OF the economy, when will we see downscaling at area restaurants? Price cutting? Recent scoutings of new restaurants brought lunch bills of $35 a person -- without alcohol -- at the new Japanese restaurant, Unkai, on 24th Street NW, and the new Swiss restaurant, Les Trois Visages, at 1990 M St. NW
CANTINA D'ITALIA is undergoing some kind of revolution, but the style of the new regime is still unclear. Owner Bobby Lee brought in a new manager, Florida's Tom Chiantese, and even hired a woman chef, said to be the restaurant's first. Maybe its last, too: She stayed only a week.
"She wanted to do the nouvelle, but we weren't ready for that," said Chiantese. "She was a really nice lady, an excellent chef, but it just didn't work out."
He expects the restaurant to take shape in the next few weeks, and talks of new ovens, people being brought from Rome, homemade breads and returning the restaurant back to what it was. Traditional, not nouvelle. Nouvelle, said Chiantese, is old.
IT TOOK just a short walk and a change of accent, but Pierre Chambrin, formerly chef of the Maison Blanche across the street from the Executive Office Building, is now sous chef at the White House.
Phyllis C. Richman's restaurant reviews appear Sundays in The Washington Post Magazine.