Update: It has since been pointed out to me that Rip's is not actually in Bowie. (Even the City Restaurant Guide is confused on this fact.) I'm renumbering this as my first "Beyond Bowie" review.
For an explanation of the Bowie Restaurant Project, look here.
For a list of all the Bowie Restaurant Project reviews, look here.
Rip's Country Inn, 3809 N Crain Highway
Most Recent Foursquare Check-in: 9/25/2011
Total Foursquare Check-ins: 3
Pre-Foursquare Visits: No
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
I am trying to think of how many restaurants in Bowie have been open more than 20 years. Grace's Fortune barely makes the cut. Golden Pavilion has been open since the 1960s, though it recently moved a few doors down and changed its menu. The McDonalds on 197 has been there since at least the 1980s. There may be handful of others, but I'm pretty sure Rip's has them all beat, given that it opened in 1952.
In fact, I think I'd use its age to describe it to someone. In my review of Grace's Fortune, I said it was the only place I could think of to take an interviewee. I think I'll now add Rip's, but ask the person, "Are you interested in a place that looks like it hasn't changed in 30 years?"
Rip's seems like the type of place my grandmother would have liked to eat at; in fact, I'd be surprised if she didn't find herself there at some point the in 1970s or 1980s after a golf or bowling outing in Crofton. It features good, but not fantastic American food. I particularly recommend their burger served "Chesapeake style" -- with crab on top. I don't understand why the dish hasn't caught on in more places around Maryland. When we lived near Hyattsville (yes, there!) I got spoiled by having a couple of places that did really good burgers. I haven't found a replacement in Bowie yet, but Rip's is the one place I've tried so far that I can honestly look forward to ordering a burger.
The service has always been remarkably friendly, and everyone has always been remarkably tolerant of the boys and the ruckus they can cause at a restaurant. Something about the clientèle means that they've been cooed over more than sighed at.
Rip's also features a deli (which I haven't tried), a liquor store (which has a really good selection) and a motel (about which I know nothing). When it was built in 1952, there was no I-95, and US-301 (Crain Highway) was a major north-south artery. Rip's is a throwback to that era, but you don't need nostalgia to want to go there, just a desire for tasty, family-friendly fare.