International House of Pancakes (IHOP)
1400 Irving St NW
Washington, DC 20009
IHOP has finally arrived in the District! Now, no longer do we have to sally forth to the hinterlands of NoVa in order to satiate a 3:00 am craving for a stack of pasty flapjacks smothered in the finest synthetic maple syrup that $4.99 can buy. The IHOP in Columbia Heights opened several months ago, but I didn't have an opportunity to try the place until this weekend. The IHOP is the most recent addition to the cornucopia of chain restaurants that now grace this little corner of Columbia Heights. Embedded within the Target complex, it is across the street from the Five Guys, near a Chipotle, below a Pizza Hut (located in the Target) and next to a freestanding Panda Express. All we need is an Orange Julius and this would be one of the finest open-air mall food courts in the District.
This IHOP seems to serve a niche that the original planners of this development inexplicably failed to address during the original construction...a sanctuary providing on a daily basis 24 hours of post-bacchanalian respite where one can sober up by soaking up the booze in one's stomach with a liberal dose of pancakes, burnt bacon, and overcooked eggs. Now, this grievous oversight has been remedied (not to mention it can also double as a dessert place to go to in order to cap off a fine meal of chow fun and teriyaki at the aforementioned Panda Express).
As mentioned earlier, the IHOP is embedded within the Target complex and is only accessible on Irving Street. Unfortunately, because of this, you don't have the soul-stirring sight of the iconic blue roofed, A-frame pagoda to greet you when you first approach. The interior also has much to be desired...it is almost monochromatically beige and feels like the basement cafeteria of a college dorm.
I went there with a friend around midnight. Service was a little confused and slightly inattentive. I placed my order with one waitress, and then five minutes later, another waitress came up. After trying to sell me on the all-you-can-eat pancakes (which I had already gleefully ordered from the first waitress), she departed and literally a minute later the first waitress came back with our coffee. Unfortunately, she failed to bring any utensils with her, so I had to use a (sealed) straw (that was probably left over from the previous cover) in order to stir in the cream and sugar.
Luckily, the food made up for chaotic service. Right now, IHOP has an all-you-can-eat pancake special, so I ordered the $4.99 deal: five flapjacks on the first plate with as many additional servings of 3 pancakes that you can eat. I only ordered one extra helping, but since I still managed to gorge on eight pancakes for $5 (which is probably 7 more than I should have ate considering I ate earlier that night), I more than got my money's worth.
So, go now if you are going to go at all. The pancakes aren't exactly light as feathers, the syrup is treacly, artificial, and slightly gross, the service is disordered, and the ambiance is the pits...but, for some reason, there is no other place I would prefer going to after 2:00 am on a weekend night (though that is probably because everything else is closed).