DGS Delicatessen

DGS Delicatessen, website, Facebook, Twitter, 1317 Connecticut Ave. NW (between N and Dupont Circle, near 18th and N), 202-293-4400, open for lunch/brunch & dinner (5:30p) everyday, closes at 10p (Sun-Thurs) 11p (Fri-Sat), HH 5-7p everyday, est. 2012 [Yelp, WaPo]

Hiddenish entrance to bar on 18th St.
Hiddenish entrance to bar on 18th St.

What is a bar? Webster’s defines a “bar” as…I’m not looking up bar in the dictionary. Generally people think of a bar as a place you go to drink.  The overwhelming majority of the bars I’ve listed and I will review are traditionally bars, though many of them serve food.  Some of the places I’ve listed, along with DGS Delicatessen-the subject of this review, are actually really restaurants.  I’m not going to list/review every single restaurant, but I’ve included some worthwhile spots to drink, like DGS, which have a very defined bar area/menu (look at that sweet sign below) and/or have solid happy hour specials, that are not traditional bars and close before midnight, even on weekends.

Sign showing where you are
Sign showing where you are

DGS Delicatessen, which opened up in late 2012, has itself been subject to some yuppie controversy over what’s in a name, as folks are upset  that it really is a spotless, upscale restaurant as opposed to a traditional deli, with gargantuan sandwiches and a lot of old-world character.  With that not in mind, we stopped by for their happy hour on a Friday to grab some bites and drinks in their sliver of the bar tucked in the back with its own hiddenish entrance off 18th street.  Get there by 5:15 or you won’t be able to get one of the 10-15 seats, though the standing room area isn’t too crowded against the exposed brick behind the barstools.  It’s a friendly spot, with some clear regulars there for chopped liver, pickles, latkes, pastrami chili and cheese fries (we got the latter two, which were very good, as was the tongue sliders).  A wide range of ages in there, with some elderly folks along with young couples on a date.  We sampled a few of their cocktails, priced $6-9, mostly $7 (themed names-The Chosen Highball, Le Marais, the Mensch), which were very good and had a couple beers (the ones on special were fairly random-Genesee Cream Ale in a can, Tsingtao and Mama Little Yella Pils in a 12. oz draft) for $3-4.  Tunes from the 70s played on the speaker the whole time we were there, which gave it a pretty chill vibe.  All in all, a solid place for happy hour to get a drink and some unique (for DC) eats.

DGS

Sign out front
Sign out front

Barred in DC Rating: 4/5

 

Maddy’s Bar and Grille

Maddy’s Bar and Grille, websiteFacebookTwitter1726 Connecticut Ave. NW (near 20th & S), 202-483-2266, opens at 11a everyday, HH 4-7p (M-F) midnight-3a (Fri) 2p-2a (Sun), est. 2009 [YelpWaPoTripadvisor]

Maddy’s replaced Timberlake’s, an institution in the northern reaches of Dupont Circle (on Conn. between R & S streets), in late 2009. A fairly standard neighborhood spot, Maddy’s can get crowded around happy hour and during boxing fights, though it’s been empty the couple times I’ve been here late on the weekend. There are a decent amount of tables in the front, on the side opposite the sole, long bar and in the back, but when it gets crowded, the awkward half-wall/partition in the middle of the room requires you to squeeze through to get a drink at the bar. Went here for the Pacquio-Margarito fight in November 2010, very crowded but a great scene; good place to watch fights that isn’t a cavernous sports bar like Public Bar or Buffalo Billiards. Otherwise, haven’t had much reason to stop by despite living in the neighborhood and being a chill spot. The chalkboards above the bar listing the beers on draft, along with their prices, is a nice touch and would be something that other bars should replicate.

Nice touch - chalkboards with beer prices
Nice touch – chalkboards with beer prices
Saturday - 10 PM
Saturday – 10 PM

Barred in DC Rating: 3/5

 

Russia House

Russia House, web siteFacebookTwitter1800 Connecticut Ave. NW (corner of Connecticut & Florida Ave., near 21st & S), 202-234-9433, opens at 5p everyday, closes at midnight except Fri-Sat (2:30a), est. 2003 [YelpWaPoTripadvisorUrbanspoon, Washingtonian]

Way at the top of Dupont Circle neighborhood at the corner of Connecticut and Florida Avenues, this lounge is spread out through several floors and rooms, including a piano bar, all fancily decorated, and apparently is frequently by lots of Russians and other eastern Europeans like Ovie and others Caps players.  Kind of a dark spot and sometimes a weird vibe, I actually am somewhat a fan of this spot, though I haven’t been in a couple years. It’s been open to the public since 2003 (was apparently a semi-private club before that since 1995), same owners as another international-themed spot-Biergarten Haus. Seemingly endless selection of vodkas; the Baltika beers (all named with a #, I think #4 and #7 are good, but that’s just a guess) are worth trying out.

Barred in DC Rating: 3/5

ChurchKey

ChurchKey, web siteFacebookTwitter1337 14th St. NW (14th & Rhode Island b/t N & P), 202-567-2576, opens at 4p (weekdays) noon (weekends), closes at 1a except Fri-Sat (2a), est. 2009 [YelpWaPo, Tripadvisor, Urbanspoon, D.C. Foodies, Frommer’s, Fodor’s]

This is probably the best beer bar and the most popular bar for non-tourist adults (25+) in DC.  Massive beer list with ton on draft and some on cask.  Always crowded (except when old people go to bed after midnight), fairly narrow, and impossible to get a bar stool or one of their cozy booths during most hours, so I actually don’t go here that often even though it’s only a few blocks away from where I live.  Once you get in (always a line between 9pm-midnight on weekends), surprisingly not that hard to get a beer, but I always ask to see the beer list so I can try something new. Solid bar food, and the restaurant downstairs (Birch & Barley) is terrific. Although it doesn’t have a happy hour, lots of special beer events are hosted here and a lot of the beers aren’t as expensive (though some definitely are, so you always want to check the menu before acting fake fancy) as you might think. Opened in late 2009 after what felt like years of anticipation.

Barred in DC Rating: 4.5/5

Madam’s Organ Blues Bar

Madam’s Organ Blues Bar, web siteFacebookTwitter2461 18th St. NW, 202-667-5370, opens at 5p everyday, HH 5-8p everyday, est. 1997 (current location) [YelpWaPo, TripAdvisor, Frommer’s, Lonely Planet]

Kind of a neighborhood landmark (look for the topless redhead mural and the other random mystifying murals along the block), this sprawling bar is known for its nightly live music, including regular blues.  There’s a stage and a dance/listening floor right when you walk in, along with a couple other floors (one with pool tables) including a tiny fire escapeish front balcony (awesome for checking out the 18th street crowd) along with another roof deck wayyy at the top that feels like a crows nest on a ship that is usually enclosed (it might open up during the summer, never been there when it is has (3/7 Update: Reader says that it opens up in summer).  Fun spot with a relatively older crowd in its current location since 1997, though beware that there usually is a cover on weekends due to the live music. One of my friends likes  the soul food.  Supposedly redheads drink beer for ½ off, but as I am not a redhead, I can’t confirm. The owner is not a fan of Adams Morgan Day.

Barred in DC Rating: 4/5

 

Bedrock Billiards

Bedrock Billiards, web siteFacebookTwitter1841 Columbia Road NW, 202-667-7665, opens at 4p (weekdays) 1p (weekends), HH 4-8p (weekdays), 1-7p (weekends), est. 1992  [YelpWaPo]

Opened back in 1992, this basement pool hall/game room bar feels miles from the bedlam of 18th Street a block away.  Bedrock, which was the first bar in the mini-chain that now includes Atomic Billiards, Buffalo Billiards, Rocket Bar, and Board Room, is reminiscent of someone’s 1980s somewhat dusty basement.  I’ve only been here twice, and not since probably 2009, but I remember lots of pool tables, darts, and board games and a solid divey atmosphere.  They have a popular Sunday night trivia that is supposed to be kind of hard. Happy hour goes from 4-8p M-F and 1-7p on the weekends, along with some pool and darts leagues during the week,  though I’ve never been.

Barred in DC Rating: 3/5