Hours: Georgia Avenue, 10 a.m. to 4 a.m., daily; Kennedy Street, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Atmosphere: Carryout and serve-yourself casual.
Prices: $1.85 to $6 for dinners (with two vegetables and a roll); lunchtime specials, about $2.85 (prices varied somewhat at the Kennedy Street location).
Credit cards: Cash only.
Special facilities: No highchairs or booster chairs; parking on the street.
Despite its name, Thrifty Carry Out Shop is not merely a carryout shop. You can eat in at either of the two locations or you can get the food delivered.
On a recent visit to the Georgia Avenue location, we placed our order at the counter, then waited until we were called to pick it up and pay for it. The wait was not long, but the list of items to choose from was, with prices ranging from 75 cents for a hamburger ($1.65 on a half sub) to $6 for a T-bone steak or $4.50 for a whole fried chicken. (We did not sample the food at the Kennedy Street shop.)
All of the main courses are served with two vegetables and half of a large toasted roll, which tasted pretty good to our hungry group. Vegetable choices include mashed potatoes, french fries, green beans, black-eyed peas, collard greens, rice, and candied sweet potatoes.
Our daughters were less than enamored with collard greens, gobbled up the rice, got an order of macaroni and cheese by mistake and thought it was wonderful, were indifferent to the short ribs ($3.75), and managed to eat but not rave about the filet of haddock, which at $3 for several pieces was a good value in plain old breaded, deep-fried fish.
Raised in the North but partial to Southern cooking, my husband made short work of black-eyed peas and cabbage, but was unexcited about the minced barbecue, which at $3.95 was probably a mistake. Another evening we picked up a take-out order of the North Carolina-style barbecued ribs ($3.50), which are the restaurant's specialty (a three-quarter-pound rib dinner is $4), and though the ribs were slightly overcooked, they were flavorful and a good value.
My order of fried chicken was similarly disappointing, because the bird was dried out. Our experiment with a dish of chitterlings ($4) was disastrous. We ordered them out of curiosity (and to the amusement of the woman behind the counter), and one bite was enough to convince us that both the taste and texture, at least as prepared here (soft and chewy and with a whiff of the barnyard to them), were an acquired taste we probably would never acquire.
Lemonade cost 50 cents and came in a large plastic cup. Desserts in the showcase, which we expected to be homemade good, were prepackaged and so-so. The strawberry pie was better than the sweet potato pie and the cake. But the homemade cobbler (75 cents), which is kept warm behind the counter, is definitely the dessert to order. Desserts ranged from 65 cents to 87 cents.
Dinner for four of us, including the chitterlings experiment, came to $22.75 (there is no tipping), but should have been much less. We ordered far more than we needed to, not realizing how large the portions were, and much of our meal was wasted. Another day we picked up a half-smoke sandwich for $1 and were very content.
As a restaurant experience, Thrifty is nothing to write home about. As a spot for budget food, it's a good place to eat a filling meal. The Georgia Avenue restaurant was full of men who had just come from work and obviously regard this little diner as a kitchen away from home. The Kennedy Street branch looks more like a lunch counter and less of a full-scale food operation.