Hours: Monday to Friday, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Atmosphere: Strictly down-home.

Price Range: Cheap, nothing over $5, with most dishes between $2.50 and $3.50.

Credit Cards: Not accepted.

Special Facilities: A bakery on the premises with take-home goodies for sale; accessible by wheelchair; highchairs available.

Most of us who grew up in small towns have memories of some pungent little cafe, usually hunkered down between the barber shop and the hardware store. These little cafes always provide as much theater as food and, as I remember, it was possible at the best of them to get a little window on just about everything going on in the world at the time. (Or at least in the town.)

It also was possible to get a really outstanding hot roast beef sandwich, the kind made with gooey white bread and salty gravy with a side order of lumpy mashed potatoes. Now that was heaven, back in the days before bean sprouts.

You either loved or hated these restaurants. Sherrill's, a neighborhood restaurant on Capitol Hill, might strike these same chords in you. Our son, for instance, found the green walls, the hunting mural and the television set rattling in the corner to be less than entrancing. He liked the food, though. r

Sherrill's, by virtue of its Capitol Hill location and its looks, attracts a melting pot clientele. You'll see Capitol Hill types in horn-rimmed glasses, families with children, and people just looking for a quick hot meal in anonymous surroundings.

If your skin crawls in the absence of napkin rings and tablecloths, forget Sherrill's. Also forget alcohol because they don't serve it.

And if you need the security of being on a first-name basis with your server, also forget it. The waitresses at Sherrill's are venerable ladies who move about with all the efficiency and warmth of a perfectly tuned automobile engine. They will not waste your time, or theirs, with small talk. a

I asked what was especially good and was told that "everything's pretty good." Whether this is true I can't say, but I did glean the information that all the seafood (I had harbored visions of homemade crab cakes) was frozen and that the meatloaf was made on the premises. So I opted for meatloaf, with mashed potatoes and gravy and cole slaw.

The meat loaf was definitely reminiscent of the restaurants of childhood, with lots of onion and lots of seasoning. The mashed potatoes were more reminiscent of cardboard box, having recently come from there. The cole slaw was okay. You also get gravy and a roll with butter for your $3.50, so I guess some cost-benefit wizard figured out that actually sitting down and peeling real potatoes wasn't worth it.

The teen-ager brightened considerably when he noticed a pizza burger listed on the menu. What could a kid do but order it? For those of you unenlightened enough to ask, "A what?" a pizzaburger is a hamburger encouraged, through a miracle of cuisine and the addition of a little tomato sauce and a little cheese, to taste like pizza. It worked. Cole slaw and potatoes accompany this bit of teen-age heaven, and all for $2.25.

My husband enjoyed his barbecue sandwich, which was served on a big serious dinner roll.

The big thing at Sherrill's is the pastry. Sherrill's is at least half bakery, and they make all their own stuff. It's not the Watergate, but the simpler things like cookies and eclairs are excellent. You step up to the counter and choose your very own, and the prices run from 60 cents for pie or cake on up for the more complicated creations.

Out bill was just over $12 for three people; not bad for a full dinner just steps from the epicenter of Western civilization.