One of the things that amazes me about Washington, DC, is that several of the tourist trap food spots seem to have remained almost unchanged since my earliest visits to DC as a child back around the Bicentennial. There are still the food carts next to the American History museum and the Air and Space museum hawking some really dubious looking egg rolls. The exit of the Federal Triangle Metro station still seems to have one of the worst, and most expensive, hot dog stands in the district. Tony Cheng’s in Chinatown is still churning out dubious “Mongolian” food. And the block across the street from Ford’s Theater is chock full of touristy t-shirt shops, souvenir stands, and odd restaurants. In fact, I’m pretty sure it was only April 15, 1865 when the first entrepreneur set up a souvenir stand. But, for as long as I can remember, there’s always been a Waffle Shop across the street from Ford’s Theater.
Nestled in at 504 10th St NW (which is a bit of a change, until a few years ago Lincoln’s was located up the street at 522, where, under the printed T-shirt store banner you can still see the old “Waffle Shop” sign), Lincoln’s is definitely one of those dive breakfast places. In addition to breakfast, they also do a brisk business in minor sundries and lottery tickets, as well as post cards and bottled water for the tourists. But don’t write it off completely as a tourist trap, since Lincoln’s is quite popular with the locals. About a dozen DC law enforcement types of various persuasions were obviously having a morning break, and the family running the place is on a first-name basis with about half the customers coming in the door, so Lincoln’s is definitely a place for the locals and local employees as well as the tourist trade.
Having sized up the joint, I ended up settling in at one of the many countertop spots (they’ve got about 100 feet of marble countertop winding it’s way through the joint, in addition to the freestanding tables) where I could watch the grill. I selected one of the breakfast specials, having a waffle, home fries, bacon, and coffee.
How was the food? It was pretty good. The waffle was nicely cooked, with a nice crisp exterior and a moist, fluffy interior, like a good waffle should be. I strongly suspect it’s nothing much more than Sysco waffle mix, but it’s at least cooked well (I can’t count the number of places I’ve been that can screw up something simple like a waffle). The homefries were made with onion and just a hint of garlic, with a good sear on one side. The bacon was just your “commodity” bacon, but it was decently crisped and not overly greasy. But the staff was friendly and chatty, my coffee cup always full, and the place fast and efficient.
Would I go out of my way to go back here? Probably not. But if I found myself looking for another breakfast in central DC (which isn’t exactly brimming with breakfast joints), Lincoln’s Waffle Shop was a nice, little, friendly and affordable spot (my breakfast set me back $7.95 plus tip). And hey, you can get some Powerball tickets while you are at it…