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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Casual restaurant

Mon–Fri 11:30am–2:15pm

Features Kid-friendly, outdoor dining
Bar None
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Not accepted


1225 19th St. NW
Washington, DC
(202) 293-0162
C.F. Folks
Join the throng of lunchtime revelers for daily specials and the city’s best crab cakes

C. F. Folks is the kind of restaurant you could walk past every day without stopping in. With its chalkboard specials and tiny storefront, it looks like it should be ignored. Yet if you observe more carefully, you’ll realize that when it’s open, this lunch-only joint is crammed full; it’s so busy that waitresses buzz back and forth between tables and the kitchen at a jog. The décor is haphazard, peculiar, and endearing. Behind the long counter, racks of old cookbooks share space with old postcards, a stereo system, odd knick knacks (including Presidential Barbie), and a boisterous staff. Orders are barked from afar and cooks declaim their opinion on everything. It is loud, scrappy, and delicious.

We like the Reuben, but in general, sandwiches are nothing extraordinary. The best food at Folks is the rotating menu of daily specials (Monday: Louisiana, Tuesday: Tex-Mex, Wednesday: Italian & Indian, and so on). At many places, the specials are something you avoid because you can’t imagine that it could deliver—especially with the pan-world menu. Yet at Folks, savvy diners order plate after plate, gleefully scarfing it all down.

Food is delicious the way home-cooked meals are delicious—simple, hearty, and filled with...well, love. You’ll be served half a cow with hanger steak salad, flesh loose and tender and charred from the grill atop a bed of arugula. You’ll be surprised by the quality of the blue cheese. Crowned with crisp apples and toasted walnuts, it is a basic dish, but wonderfully executed. Bolognese is homey and thick, several meats cooked down to a thick ragù and dashed haphazardly on a nest of pasta. Eating it is like being a child at a table in front of your favorite dinner. People in DC and Maryland are always looking for or claiming to have the best crab cake in town, but C.F. Folks actually has it (or has something very close to it).

Folks’ dessert specials also change by the day and feature honest, clean food. Blocks of dense shortbread scented with vanilla and lemon are crumbly and buttery, baked until crisp on the edges. Surrounded by fresh berries and a thick fruit purée and topped by a big dollop of ice cream, it all tastes wholesome, fresh, and sweet: like 4th of July in the Heartlands.

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