5600 Connecticut Ave. NW. 362-4256.
Hours: Mondays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.; Sundays from 4 p.m. to midnight.
Atmosphere: If they ever required formal attire here, it would probably be jeans without rips. The food, too, is uncomplicated-but hearty.
Price range: From a $1.60 hamburger to a New York strip sirloin at $5.95; in between are omelettes, pizzas, sandwiches and several entrees.
Credit cards: No.
Reservations: Forget it; either they'd be flattered-or laugh themselves silly.
Special facilities: Accessible by wheelchair. Booster seats available. Street parking is not bad until showtime at the Avalon, when the plot thickens.
One could argue that children should be neither seen nor heard in a corner tavern, but it depends on the corner. Besides, when families from blocks around are constantly dropping in there for dinner and don't mind telling you about it, why be picky?
So it is at the Chevy Chase Lounge, which is something of an inn-stitution at the corner of McKinley Street and Connecticut Avenue. Here the food may not draw as many gourmets as the innkeeper does beers, but the people do seem to enjoy, enjoy.
I dare not remember when I first set foot in this place, but you can bet it was long before the birth of the little teeny-bopper in the blue "100% Fat Free" T-shirt who flipped out the silver at our table by the window.
There are lots of window seats, incidentally, with a choice of two views: On one side, you can keep tabs on the L-2 and L-4 buses; or if you prefer, there's the E-5 and D-6 side.
The four of us were warming the naugahyde at the back of the room, near a fascinating old juke box that is set in a console with a pop-up top that has a painting inside it. Above that, on a phony-stone wall, hangs a swinging scale with a replica of a fat champagne bottle balancing a batch of grapes.
By the light of six tiffany lamps with globes, and with two milks and two beers, we checked the menu. Under a listing of things such as cheeseburger and hamburger, the management cautions, "Sorry-No Substitutes."
The offerings were surprisingly ambitious. There was Maryland crab cake, with fries and cole slaw, $2.75; hot corned beef on rye with slaw, $2.40; pork barbecue with slaw, $2.35; sandwiches from $1.75 to $2.10; omelettes from $2.95 to $3.10; pizzas starting at $2.50 and four entrees below $5.95.
Our 12-year-old son, having eyed a computerized "Black Jack Dealer" machine sitting on the bar, was unusually quick with his food order. He requested a $2.35 Lounge Burger, which means a you-know-what with melted American or Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, steak fries and (please) hold the mayo.
After a short round of collective bargaining in which he extracted enough parental coin to take on the house computer/dealer, son was accorded a brief leave of absence from the table. (The final score, along with much blinking of lights and flashed messages, was Son 3, Machine 2).
But we came here to eat, right? Our 10-year-old daughter joined the Lounge Burger team. My wife chose a hot pastrami on rye with cole slaw, $2.40. To test the full range of fare, I volunteered for the Delmonico, "Our Specialty," $5.25. This was a respectable and rare steak, served on one of those ersatz-pewter platters that sit atop slabs of wood. With it came my choice of a baked potato and peas.
Those burgers, rare as requested, were surrounded by thick fries, not to mention a thick cluster of lightning-swift, pilfering fingers. The hot pastrami was a generous amount, on rye that was certifiably fresh.
At this point, which is to say at about 9 p.m. on a Saturday, the movie at the Avalon let out and in came a wave of famished flick-fans to swell the CC Lounge's small sea of candlelit tables.
We people-watched for a while, checking out the guy in the Hawaiian shirt, the two earnest young couples in soul-searching discussion next to us, a dashing young neighbor of ours with his woman-friend, selected children of different sizes and what was either a thoroughly bored man or a wax figure on a stool.
Enough stalling. There is the matter of the check. Not a major matter, mind you, since it came to $16.47 plus tip for the works. While the Chevy Chase Lounge may not fill the bill for that fancy graduation dinner with Grandma and kindly old Aunt Acid, it's a fine spot for any come-as-you-are, go-as-you-please meal if you're happening by that corner.