Hours: Sunday through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 4 a.m.; Fridays and Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 5 a.m. Atmosphere: No-frills Greek food, inside or on the sidewalk, served with all-Hellenic speed. Price Range: Nearly all the entrees are below $5, and there are many of them. Credit Cards: American Express, Master Charge, Visa. Reservations: Not necessary. Special Facilities: Accessible by wheelchair. Booster chairs available. Parking is a sticky game of cruising.
This is a sidewalks-and-souvlaki story that really gets rolling after dinner -- all around 19th and M streets NW, where sneakers and spike heels have given way to polyurethane wheels.
Roller skating may not be the after-dinner thing for everybody, but people are wheeling up in droves to this corner of Restaurant Row -- young and old, high rollers and bump-and-groaners.
But pull over now, if you will, for a meal -- which is what our Family Out is supposed to do. On this Saturday evening, with only our 10-year-old daughter as accompaniment, we could zero in on a target quickly -- and Demetri's won handily.
Since the sidewalk is the circus here, and because it happened to be a balmy evening, we picked one of the outdoor circular tables under the canopy, nestled by the plastic vines with the phoney fruits wrapped around the pole.
Among the passers-by, more people were rolling than strolling. This immensely useful statistic is brought to you by those who were watching intently while sipping mugs of beer and glasses of cola.
The menu at Demetri's -- like the layout of the place -- is not complicated. But when nearly all the entrees weigh in at $5.75 or less, who needs complications?
Young Julie settled on a souvlaki sandwich, $2.85, which was a reasonable settlement; a marinated shiskabob with tzatziki sause (brown and with a lilt to it) and a surprisingly fresh pita bread. The portion was generous, and the shredded lettuce salad filling pepped it up nicely.
By now Washington's ubiquitous balloon man was upon us: "Make the ladies happy, make the children happy . . ." He is made happy whenever there is a crowd, and one was gathering.
My wife and I both chose the combination platter, $5.75, which includes samples of many entrees: gyro meat, souvlaki, spinach pie, feta cheese pie, some light french fries and your basic Greek salad of olives, shriveled peppers and lettuce.
The four charbroiled hunks of meat were spicey; and the gyro had a fine snap to it. But the cheese and spinach both were heavy and, let's face it, gummy. Our junior source suggested politely that maybe we have all been spoiled by our "Greek connections in the neighborhood."
Still, the service was swift and cheerful -- ready to jot down our daughter's request for baklava, $1.10. This produced a big, freshly cut slice.
Usually we wrap up our writeup with a mention of tab, but there's more to tell this time. After settling for a modest total $19.60 plus tip, two-thirds of our party took to skates.
Okay. I'm the third who didn't. One time I did try, and mostly it was Splat. But the ladies strapped up for their laps, and it took no time for my wife to get her come-downance: Whomp on the corner curb, followed by a mortifying "Are you all right, Jane?" from one in a quartet of neighbors we didn't know was there.
You don't need to bring skates. Trucks were there from Cheap Skates, Super Skates, Hot Skates and For Heaven Skates. So were a loudspeaker full of WKYS disco sounds and, on this warm night, all the skating hot-doggers and amateurs you could imagine.
This had all the in-city charm of San Francisco as we continued to roll along up a block to catch a sidewalk concert by the Bob Devlin Street Band -- which consists of a bright-eyed young fellow who has made a one-man musicale of himself.
Skate people and sole folks alike cheered him on, many of them coming in and out of a singles spot. "They go in singles," our young observer reported, "but they're coming out doubles."
For us it all came out fun -- the kind of evening that makes people pleased to be free-wheeling Washingtonians.