Dietles is officially one of the best dive bars in the DC metro area

Dietles is officially one of the best dive bars in the DC metro area

From The Washington Post:

Hank Dietle’s

11010 Rockville Pike, Rockville. 301-881-8711.

The temperature outside hovers in the mid-70s, but inside Hank Dietle’s, it feels like a sauna. It smells like a latrine, too. A couple of fans move the hot air around, providing not a single cool breeze in the process. The smart ones are drinking beer on the front porch, which hasn’t changed much since 1916, when Dietle’s was known as Offutt’s, a general store situated on the oldest road in Montgomery County.

James, a former Marine, sits at the end of the bar, apparently oblivious to the creature discomforts. James is leathery and muscular, still sporting a military-style buzz cut. He’s wearing a Justin Hayward Band concert T-shirt and working his way through a pack of L&M menthol cigarettes and a pitcher of beer. He likes it when Dietle’s is slow. The pool table is always available, and he can play whatever he wants on the jukebox.

Besides, when Dietle’s is dead, James takes it upon himself to serve as the bar’s guardian angel, watching over Marcia, a bartender who’s pulling yet another double shift. She looks to be the only employee in the place, although she seems unfazed by the situation. She’s sitting in a wicker captain’s stool, her feet propped up on the counter, reading her phone and looking as tough as Hillary Clinton on a military plane.

As the oldest bar in Montgomery County — its Class D beer-and-wine license was the first issued after Prohibition — Dietle’s has outlasted some tumultuous times. It survived the opening of White Flint Mall (now all but a memory). It survived the construction of the Metro Red Line (whose workers apparently drank at Dietle’s when their shift ended). It survived a coldblooded murder in the bar’s parking lot in 1972. And it’s surviving the craft cocktail movement.

These days, on Saturdays, Dietle’s showcases rockabilly bands, a throwback sound at a throwback roadhouse. One of the ensembles apparently purchased a microwave for the bar, which is strange, because Dietle’s doesn’t offer food (although the Corned Beef King truck is often parked outside). The microwave, James says, is not for customers, but for the staff. The musicians wanted to make sure the employees could feed themselves, so Dietle’s can continue feeding regulars a slice of Rockville history.

Founded: 1916.
Decor: Tile floor, old wooden booths with rigid backs, wooden walls decorated with framed photo collages, arcade games and a jukebox. A roadhouse with a sense of history.
Signature drink: None.

 

 

 

Amy Ginsburg

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