The guide to rooftop and roof deck bars is now up and linked on the front page.
PoPville recently reprised (ok, 3 months ago in March, but I’ve been busy, uh, tweeting) his Friday question of the day:
Just like Barred in DC analyzed 5 years ago when basically the same question was asked, I’m doing it again.
Around 110 bars made the cut (not counting some useless reminiscing about great defunct Adams Morgan bars). DC Reynolds edged out Solly’s in the mentions for the best bar; it should be noted that 5 years ago neither made the top 16 and Red Derby took the top nod. The number two spot in 2014, Boundary Stone, surprisingly had few mentions. Barred in DC’s two favorite bars currently, Hill Prince and All Souls, were mentioned but did not get that many votes (note that 10 of 16 are on U Street or north and 15 are in NW).
All the spots that received 4+ votes are listed below. Not surprisingly based on where PoPville got started and where most people have been moving to, most bars are on U Street or further north and all but five are dives or have strong dive-like qualities. Bars that were on the list in 2014 are bolded; ones that aren’t divey are italicized. With 16 bars, there is almost certainly a poll coming. If you’re looking for a list of bars to visit to get the essential great DC bar experience, you won’t go wrong here.
Top 16 Most Popular PoPville Bars – 2019
1. DC Reynolds (Park View)
2. Solly’s (U Street)
3. Red Derby (Columbia Heights)
4. Ivy & Coney (Shaw)
4. The Midlands (Park View)
4. Lost and Found (Shaw)
4. The Raven (Mt. Pleasant)
4. The Big Hunt (Dupont)
9. Jackie Lee’s (Brightwood Park)
9. The Passenger (Shaw)
9. Bravo Bar (Pleasant Plains)
9. Jimmy Valentine’s (Trinidad)
9. The Green Zone (Adams Morgan)
14. Looking Glass Lounge (Park View)
14. Jack Rose (Adams Morgan)
14. Dacha (Shaw)
Others Receiving Multiple Votes: Nanny O’Briens, The Pug, Copycat, Lyman’s, All Souls, Right Proper, The Crown and Crow, 600T, Barmini, Saint Ex, Bar Charley, Room 11, Grady’s, Reliable Tavern, Kingfisher, Colum bia Room, Cotton & Reed, Service Bar, Trusty’s, Showtime, Dew Drop, The Blaguard, Bottom Line, Bar Pilar, Capitol Lounge, Jackpot, American Ice, Wisdom, Dan’s Cafe, Madams Organ, Wild Days, Churchkey, Off the Record, Boundary Stone, Stan’s Rose’s Luxury, Songbyrd
Duke’s Grocery, 2000 Pennsylvania Ave. NW #3500 (at I), Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, website, est. 2019, 11a-late, HH Noon-7p M-F ($5 select beer & wine, rails) opens in Foggy Bottom on Thursday, May 30th. The new spot, which is still located at it’s original location in Dupont Circle (17th & P, opened in Sept 2013; full disclosure, Barred in DC lived across the street for a couple years and is friends with co-owner Daniel Kramer) and its similar Duke’s Counter location across from the Zoo (Connecticut Ave, opened in July 2016), comes to the long-vacated legendary Kinkead’s space (23 years there) at the Shops at Penn.
The third location is the biggest yet with more space for posting up at the bar and bar area (dining room behind the bar); lots of exposed brick, bar height tables. New space provides flexibility for many more plate and entree options than the amazing sandwiches (and of course one of DC’s top burgers, the Proper Burger) Also there are 12 draft lines (solidly priced at $7-8, including Brewdog IPA) and a much larger cocktail menu (almost all $12-13).
Barred in DC stopped by and sampled the incredible “Dark Wings” (which include a large cup of mussels, huge duck wings that are battered that look like legs, and pretzel rolls, all for an amazing $15), the octopus romesco with a ton of octopus and well cooked pasta, and a tremendous lobster bisque with popcorn. Great refreshing drinks included classics like the Pimm’s Cup, Sidecar and Citrus Crush, as well as newer drinks like the Cucumber Rickey.
This is a big development for the Foggy Bottom bar scene and adds to the great Bindaas a few doors down and the uber-popular Founding Farmers half a block down the street. Note that the Farragut West (18th st entrance) and Foggy Bottom Metro’s are equidistant at 1/4 mile away. Perhaps in two years, Duke’s will be one of the anchors for the “Western Market,” a planned renovation to the complex with new vendors and eateries.
[THIS POST HAS BEEN EDITED]
Pie Shop Bar, the great bar/music venue/roof deck establishment located above the relative H Street stalwart, Dangerously Delicious Pies, posted an interesting plea on social media channels Wednesday:
We, an established DC small business, literally a mom and pop business run by a husband and wife team for over 9 years in the H St corridor, are being challenged by a neighbor who moved in just 1 year ago. We need your support! Please sign our petition: https://bit.ly/2HoZQOq
The petition itself asks:
To: ABRA, ANC6A
From: [Your Name]
I support Dangerously Delicious Pies, 1339 H st NE WDC 20002, who has been operating, contributing to, and serving the H st. NE neighborhood and The District as a whole, for nearly a decade. They have had no adverse effect of peace, order, and quiet on the community and in fact have always supported several local nonprofit organizations and charitable causes, regularly donate to several DC public schools, and have always been a champion for local artists, art and culture. Supporting local small businesses, in general, is crucial in facilitating an environment where the arts and culture of this city can thrive. #dontmutedc
This petition was linked on neighborhood blogs, my friend’s Facebook pages, and other sources all over town, but in comment sections as well as myself were perplexed regarding the obscure context of the petition and what was really meant. In response to questions posted by others, Pie Shop later posted:
The great local blog Frozen Tropics got more added context from an ANC committee member basically explaining the neighbor across the alley has raised complaints about the noise level from the bands playing on the 2nd floor and hopes to reach some negotiated settlement and if not, ABRA would impose some noise mitigation. Per the member on my local Facebok page and the HillRag – the ANC is not protesting their whole license but only seeks to get them to agree to some noise mitigation measures like heavy curtains when music is playing (there is a whole row of closed windows opposite the stage (though a whole building length away)) or a higher fence on the relatively low fenced (compared to neighboring roofdecks) patio. Note that although Dangerously Delicious points to the fact that they’ve been there almost a decade, the concept of the Pie Shop bar is brand new, just opening in August while the 2nd floor hasn’t been used for any music or bar patrons until then. Some more added context:
- Dangerously Delicious is up for renewal. Reportedly, the ANC may have been willing to support renewal but a fairly new person in the neighborhood (less than one year, though the dude DMd me in the guise of acting like someone else that he has owned for 3 years and went to Yorktown HS. I can confirm that he is a lawyer and in his mid 40s) has been upset for whatever reason with all the bars on the 1300 H Street (noise and related issues) and is now taking the opportunity to push the ANC to protest sort of a proxy for all the neighbor’s issues with the block. I’m personally surprised that one person would cause the ANC to protest (see below) but since DC changed the law and basically severely depressed the ability of non-adjacent property owners to protest there is a perverse interest to protest when it appears some neighbors might themselves There has always been residential a block away from that strip, but it is true there are more and more people moving nearby (including a bunch of renovated/new housing on the cool Linden Court directly between H and G St behind) so there is potentially a new dynamic in the neighborhood. But then again the 1300 block of H Street has been a very late night block for almost a decade or more at this point.
- So DDP has been officially protested, which isn’t necessarily stigmatizing or even a death knell for the spot. A roll call hearing is on the schedule soon. DDP, like Dacha 14th Street did before, is now asking the masses for folks to speak up in support. This is savvy on their part, because after all these years following the DC liquor license scene, ANCs and ABRA usually only hear from complainers, and although this public sentiment might be less relevant at ABRA, if DDP can get any neighbors to testify on its behalf that should be helpful.
- ANC 6A has a settlement agreement already with Dangerously Delicious Pies that was recently amended in late 2018 to allow it to open its chill rooftop patio until 2a on weekends.
- Like almost every ANC in every bar district in town, the local east-side of H Street ANC 6A has reached “settlement agreements” with bars and restaurants in its purview. ANC 6A in particular has prohibited bar crawls through the protest + settlement agreement process.
- Every restaurant liquor license, which lasts 3 years, is up for renewal this spring (you’ve seen the big ass placards on windows and doors). Every ANC and neighbors have an opportunity to challenge the renewal.
- Although a lot of people on TL and bar owners might think it’s unfair (one particular restaurant owner was quite frustrated at a recent meeting), neighbors have the right (and I think they should have the right; giving an avenue to vent reduces problems in the long run) to have a mini-Festivus with their ANC usually to speak their mind and air their grievances. At least in the ANC in which I-if-I-was-a-real-journalist-this-would-be-a-conflict-of-interest serve on its ABC advisory committee, what usually happens is the folks on the ANC and the resident members/advisors determine whether making any edits to the existing settlement agreement (and if you’re a new bar owner or a fan of a bar and they don’t have a SA, well that’s unusual) would address those issues, whether those edits would even be legal to make (for all the criticism, ABRA is really hands off when the agreement is overly prescriptive or makes it responsive for non-patrons/employees), and whether the establishment would be alright if it was included. In the overwhelming majority of the time, the establishment agrees, signs an amendment OR there is no change in the SA, and the ANC agrees to support the renewal. Every once in a while, the establishment and the neighbors do not agree on a resolution, the ANC protests and then there are several status conferences and then a hearing, and then finally a decision in which almost never the ABRA Board denies renewal (this may have happened less than 3 times in recorded DC history) though occasionally they will add the same conditions on the license that many settlement agreements already have. In the meantime, many ANCs will reach an agreement with the establishment and cancel the rest of the proceedings.
Astoria (1521 17th St. NW (b/t Q & P), 5p-2a Sun-Th, 5p-3a Mon, Instagram, Washingtonian), from Devin Gong and the folks that brought you the great cocktail + bao/dumplings/skewers H Street spot, Copycat Co., opened Wednesday, April 24th (as first reported by PoPville). This 17th Street spot, in the long-vacant space between JR’s and Agora, focuses on Sichuan food and cocktails. Surprisingly, there has been a dearth of media/PR-driven hype about this spot, despite the awesomeness of Copycat. Only the Washington Business Journal contributed any original reporting on this spot, and that was back in April 2018 (Note: Washingtonian posted a more legit opening article a few hours after this was published. So Barred in DC swung by its first Friday in operation for a first look. In short, this place, really a fancier version of Copycat with more significant food options, is tremendous, and there may be nothing set up like it in DC.
The drink menu is comprised almost entirely $14 cocktails. Like Copycat, the base menu consists of classic cocktails (Bourbon Smash, Caipirinha, Moscow Mule, Old Fashioned, Daiquris/Gimlets, Painkiller) with “Suggestions” for variations. When I visited there was an additional seven cocktails that were featured (presumably rotating on a regular basis). I got the Banana Painkiller (featured) plus a Boulevard Smash (bourbon smash with campari). Many of the drinks come in For those that prefer something cheaper to drink, $6 TsingTao and PBR cans, $8 3 Stars, and $14 Brooklyn or Anderson Valley Boont Amber (large format presumably), along with $12 wine by glass options were also available.
For the Sichuan cuisine (spicy, though some items are not traditional), 12 items (all $14) are available. Some are labeled as a “snack”, while many are labeled as a “dish” (which I think means it’s a bigger portion). The items included Dan Dan noodles, chili wonton, chimichurri, water boiled beef la-zi chicken, ma po tofu, sweet & sour ribs, walnut shrimp, veggie triple delight, basil eggplant, pork fried rice, and sober soup (borrowed from Copycat). The menu suggests 1 per person for a snack, 2 for a meal, and 3 if you’re really hungry. We had dan dan noodles, chili wonton (small size), and water boiled beef (good size). The place isn’t cheap (split a dish and 4 cocktails with Mrs. Barred and spent around $90) but it will definitely be popular.
Space-wise, the very narrow establishment (sits maybe 50 people) greets patrons with a host at the door (who manages seating for the tables) and a bright, airy nook for waiting or posting up front for drinks. Around 5-6 deep blue, plush booths (4 or 6 seats) make up the first half of the establishment. A long, copper (or gold?) topped bar then extends back towards the rear (with shelving on top with bottles). This is where things get really interesting-aside from 2 stools at either end, there are NO seats directly at the bar. Instead, along the wall, pairs of stools face each other (with a table/rail running the length of the wall with bump outs for the table). When the place isn’t super busy, you still can talk to and order from the bartender, even though they are like 6 feet away. At other times when people are actually standing at the bar ordering, servers or other staff take orders (one snag so far is that it hard to figure out who exactly to order from which resulted in dropped orders for some in our group). Finally, in the back there are a couple more tables (including ones that fit a ton of people and/or are communal). Make sure you check out the ornate AF bathrooms when you visit. A 25-seat patio apparently awaits soon.
Also, the name: Astoria. A staffer told me that one of the owners if from New York, and the name is a homage to the famous bar at the Waldorf Astoria hotel as the bar was meant to be evocative of it.
More pics below:
The 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four tips off around 6p Saturday, April 6th with UVa v. Auburn followed 40 minutes after that game (around 8:50p) with Texas Tech v. Michigan State. Championship game tips off at 9:20p on Monday (stop complaining, it’s started at that time last 30 years. Most of the spots in my NCAA game watch roundup are still good (I like Penn Social and Franklin Hall).
If you’re a fan of one of the teams, or want for the best packed atmosphere, official (or unofficial) watch parties will be at the following bars:
- Town Hall (Glover Park)
- Mission (Navy Yard)
- Rebellion (Dupont)
- Jake’s Tavern (Shaw) – Barred in DC will be in attendance
- Mister Days in Clarendon
- Johnny Pistola’s (Adams Morgan) -unofficial
- Finn McCool’s (Barracks Row)
- James Hobans (Dupont) – unofficial
- Capitol Lounge (Capitol Hill)
- Duffy’s Irish Pub (H Street) – unofficial
The Ella Grace, 1825 M St. NW, Facebook, Instagram, opens around 3p, has opened in lower Dupont inside the legendary dance/meat market bar, The Sign of the Whale. This new cocktail/wine bar is located on the second floor alcove in the front of the establishment, and overlooks the rest of the spot. The cozy bar within a bar first soft opened around March 8th, and has been having grand opening specials (including free cheese plates this weekend) since around March 20th through April 1st. Barred in DC did a quick stop by (didn’t sample any drinks) and found a chill atmosphere, decor clearly designed for Instagram shots, and a streamlined cocktail menu averaging around $14 (including a $21 Boulevardier didn’t see any wine lists, but didn’t ask). The signature cocktail, the Ella Grace, is gin-based, with thyme syrup, and sparkling rose.
Barred in DC was first alerted to this new establishment by social media influencer, Natty Loh (her real name) who saw an Instagram ad, who observed that this bar is the name of every single baby girl born in DC in the last year.
Barred in DC is intrigued about how this will turn out; the recent closure of The Sheppard (albeit slightly quieter block) does leave a void for cocktail bars in the Club Central/Midtown area.