The Dupont Villa

1345 Connecticut Ave. NW. 785-2333.

Hours: Seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.

Atmosphere: An unassuming neighborhood nest where families can fall in without any fallout.

Price range: From sandwiches of all sorts below $3 to a spread of entrees in the $3.90-to $4.75 category and on up to the grand T-bone for $9.95.

Credit cards: American Express, Central Charge, Diner's Club, Visa.

Reservations: Not necessary.

Special Facilities: Accessible by wheelchair. Highchair or booster seats available. Street parking is a challenge most times, though on a Sunday evening you've got a fighting chance.

Chances are wafer-thin that the Dupont Villa will make this year's list of 10 best dressed restaurants-unless plastic grapevines and by the-numbers paintings have become out enough to be in.

But the four of us weren't exactly fashion-plates either on this Sunday evening-and certainly we'd been out long enough to be in wherever they'd take us.

Besides, there are times when a hungry family isn't looking for four-star cuisine, but would gladly settle for 4-H food-hefty, hot, hearty and humbly priced.This you'll find in abundance in the friendly confines of the Dupont Villa.

Don't read too much into our opening dig about the decor, either-for this is a warm neighborhood hangout, not without a few kid-pleasers: In addition to the red and white tablecloths and electric gaslights, there are wall jukeboxes at the booths and, in the back of the room, one of those bigger-than-life TV screens.

With soft drinks and drafts for the warmup, we tore ourselves away from a quickstudy of our map-of-Greece placements long enough to run down the right-hand columns of the menu. The discovery that nothing on the main sheet topped $4.75 made each offering that much appealing.

Mention soup, as my wife and I did, and it arrived-we kid you not-in roughly 60 seconds. The choices, at 95 cents a cup, were minestones, which my wife tried, or chicken rice, my selection. You could tell that both soups were built on the premises, by somebody with good thoughts.

A big basket of crackers, butter and crusty white bread was the next target of our clustered attention. Here again, no time was lost between the last slurp of soup and the arrival of the entrees.

Our 9-year old daughter latched onto a steak sandwich, $3.25, which turned out to be a most respectable strip of meat, flanked by fries and coleshaw-the dream combo of oh-so-many young diners.

Her 12-year-old brother tagged an even more fundamental selection, the cheese-burger deluxe, $2.70. Not only did the fries score, but word had it that even the pickle stood out.

My wife's chosen assigment was souvlaki, $2.85, which amounted to six Hellenic hunks of tenderloin beef with fetacheese. For some reason the bread with this was dreary, but the meat made the grade.

A write-in menu item attracted my attention: roast lamb, $4.75-four good-sized slices in a passing gravy, with rice. Noteworthy, too, were the various heady salads that were tossed around (and then demolished with dispatch).

If you're curious about other options, you could dive down the price column to, say, a tuna salad sandwich for $2.35; or peek under the working list at the higher-priced spread and find a one-pund T-bone with baked potato and salad for $9.95. In between is a good stock of modestly priced platters.

We were going to steer clear of the dessert department, but one good turn to the chocolate cream pie, 75 cents, led to another. So two slices of the dark Chocolate and fluffy-browned meringue were shared scandalously unevenly.

The reasonable reckoning for this Sunday sit-in was $22.20 plus tax- which should be something of an incentive for any family that winds up foraging along the Dupont circular route.