Atmosphere: Unpretentious and relaxed. Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday; closed Sunday. Price Range: Pizza and sandwiches: $1.75 (hot dog) to $7.95 (large deluxe pizza); dinners, $4.95 to $9.95. Reservations: Not necessary. Credit Cards: Visa, Master Charge, Bank of Virginia Charge Plan. Special Facilities: Parking in lot adjacent to restaurant; boosters and high chairs available; accessible to wheelchairs; carryout.
It had been one of those days: Nonstop shopping, a kid with an after-school doctor's appointment, soccer practice running late and the kid due to be picked up in front of school never showing. Our patriarch, called into a meeting at work at 5:30 p.m., had not been heard from since.
When we all finally got together and threaded our way toward the 14th Street bridge, we encountered a brightly lit "Road Closed" sign. Scenic detour to Memorial Bridge. Sometime later, we fairly staggered into Attila's.
Luckily, it is the sort of place you can stumble into in various states of mental disarray. A pleasant staff will pretend that you look perfectly all right, bring pleasant food and leave you to repair yourself in its relaxed environment.
Attila's is an ice cream parlor, carry-out and dining room all in one building on Columbia Pike. Decor is motel modern: print carpet, dark paneling, red and black vinyl and scenic prints of Washington. Our younger girls wanted to sit in a large U-shaped booth that looked like a cockpit, so we settled ourselves there to look over the menu.
One side lists freshly made pizza, sanwiches, subs and gyros, all under $3.25; the flip side offers a number of Greek and Turkish dishes for dinner, as well as steak and fried shrimp.
Attila's makes its own yogurt (good) and pita bread (a softer version than that available in supermarkets). Some of the food is sharply seasoned; all of it was tasty.
All the appetizers sounded appealing. So we could sample several, we ordered meze, $3.25, a plate of assorted hors d'oeuvres. Stuffed grape leaves were good if somewhat overdosed with lemon juice; the plate also contained a small serving of Greek salad, without dressing, and samples of borek, small cylindrical pastries stuffed with ground beef or feta cheese. Both were good.
For dinner, the girls ordered a small cheese pizza, $3.25, and gyros, $2.95; we decided to bypass the more familiar moussaka and spinach pie for doner kebab, $6.95, and tas kebab, $7.95. Dinners are served with either a humdrum tomato and iceberg lettuce salad or a cup of homemade soup -- in this case, a better-than-average chicken noodle.
The pizza was the biggest small pizza we have seen, indeed freshly made, if a little dry. Try some extra toppings if you prefer your pizza juicy. All of us wound up sampling, and it was quite good. One of our daughter's gyro was a submarine shaped pita crammed with beef and a tomato and onion combination in a highly seasoned dressing that would be too tangy for some children. Our older daughter ordered the gyros souvlaki dinner, $5.95, which was essentially the same sandwich served with feta cheese and French fries for $2 more.
Doner kebab, thinly sliced beef, marinated and broiled, was offered with a choice of accompaniments: Rice palif or served over pita bread with a choice of sauces. My husband's was served with a layer of fresh yogart, then pita, then slices of meat, all topped with a thick garlicky tomato sauce. It was a good combination.
Tas kebab, served with rice pilaf, was not the usual skewered dish and is one of Attila's best offerings. Small pieces of tenderloin sauteed with onions and mushrooms were served with the same tomato sauce topping as the doner kebab. The meat was tender and juicy and the rice a fine companion to it; the sauce did not add a lot and might have been better served on the side.
For dessert, try the baklava; it is a bit sweeter than some versions, but good. Chocolate mousse didn't even deserve the name. At Attila's, stick with the Turkish delights and you won't be disappointed.
The bill, including tax and tip, was $48.36.