Black Market, a pop-up store on its first floor of the 14th Street/Logan dive bar Black Whiskey, opened yesterday. This store, curated by someone named M.R. Collins, will offer old & new collectibles including clothing, shoes, accessories, bags, furniture, goods, art, and artifacts (including, seriously, a Thai rickshaw) for the next 3 months (until July 20th). The store, which will be closed Monday-Tuesday, will be open 2-9p Wed.-Thurs. & noon-9p Fri.-Sun. Photos and more details can be found at Black Whiskey’s Facebook page. 1410 14th St. NW
Thomas Foolery, website, Facebook, 2029 P St. NW, opens at noon everyday, closes at midnight weekdays, 2a on weekends, HH (Angry Hour 5-7p daily, est. 2013 [Post (Carman), Post (Hahn) WCP (read this), HuffPo, Yelp]
Indisputably the goofiest bar in DC, the uber-fun Thomas Foolery entertains those who stop by the snug basement spot in west Dupont on P Street with games and candy and “adult” milk and cookies and grilled cheese! Steve Davis, the rocket scientist who operates Mr. Yogato, the frozen yogurt establishment on the east side of the Circle on 17th Street, runs this joint, imbuing it with the same care-free, harken-to-childhood atmosphere as the yogurt place.
Although one might try to compare it with one of my favorite spots in town, the nearby Board Room, Thomas Foolery has a different style. Unlike the sprawling board games place, Thomas Foolery is quite small, essentially fitting into one room (with a nook that features a king’s throne and a Nintendo Wii) and sporting only one bar (with no stools, so be prepared for all the milling about the area as you embarrass yourself ordering an Elmo and a saucerful of Starbursts).
Games, though significantly fewer in number, are free, and random diversions are available throughout the bar (such as Nerf basketball, Etch-A-Sketch, velcro darts, and hopscotch).
Food with a distinct childhood theme is served, i.e., grilled cheese sandwiches and bakery fresh cookies from two popular food trucks are available to purchase. The cookies, from the the great Captain Cookie and Milkman food truck, are well worth sampling, but be warned, you may become a bona fide Cookie Monster. Cups of candy are a nice dessert if you don’t want cookies and ice cream.
The drink selection isn’t exactly comprehensive, but there are always a couple of colorful cocktails (a shot of vodka with a candy treat at the bottom of the glass was downed on a recent visit). There are no beers on draft, but a nice list of 40 or so bottles are listed, each chosen by a local minor celebrity/journalist (Barred in DC hopes to make this one day).
Most interestingly/hilariously is the selection of 2 or 3 Smirnoff Ice flavors (Steve doesn’t like beer), including regular, green apple, or my new favorite peach bellini. Normally these cost $4; in the many times I’ve been I’ve never actually paid that amount. Instead, patrons wanting to get self-Iced can play a Plinko game next to the register; the drink might be $1, $2, $3, $4, or $5 instead. Another terrific drink special twist; instead of Happy Hour, Thomas Foolery offers an “Angry Hour” from 5-7p daily where patrons who order in an ANGRY tone get a buck off their drinks. These hours (and into the evening) some weekend nights are hosted by a local charity/non-profit organization; some of the “guest” bartenders those nights work behind the bar to earn money for their organization.
Aside from the games and the playful food, the small area of the bar along with the games are conducive to interacting with other guests, which adds to the fun. To be sure, this is a very laid-back spot. The music doesn’t blast (so you can always hear your friends), you don’t spot many bros, and too-cool people would feel out of place. The atmosphere is so collegial that you may even find yourself daring a neighbor at an adjacent table to join your Jenga tournament.
One simple quibble is that the lighting near the bar is way too bright and fluorescent, which sometimes spoils the mood in the rest of the place. One of the most interesting scenes I’ve seen in a bar anywhere was set here: post-midnight one Saturday, a group of 10 or so younger Muslim women came in, some with strollers. They proceeded to have a grand time playing games, eating milk and cookies, and being friendly with the other slightly drunker customers late into the night.
Barred in DC Rating: 4/5
Redline, website, Facebook, Twitter, 707 G St. NW, opens at 11a everyday except Sun. (10a), HH 4-7p M-F, Distance to Verizon Center: 400 feet (Brought to you by DC Sports Nexus), est. 2010 [Post, WCP, Zagat, In a DC Minute, Yelp]
Overlooking the Verizon Center, Redline satisfies those looking for both a sports bar and a loungey atmosphere. Dubbed a “Gastrolounge/Bar,” this is a solid spot to grab very good food and drinks before or after a game or concert, or if you’re just in the neighborhood. Unlike most of the neighboring establishments, Redline’s second-floor location and large windows provide good views of the throngs below and let in lots of light during the day. The antithesis of Rocket Bar, let us count the ways…
Three main areas make up this second-floor establishment that features much-coveted exposed brick walls: a dining area of tabletops and booths (with table taps-more details below); a cozy bar area to the right of the steps at the entrance (quite popular for Caps fans before games); and another larger bar area beyond the dining room.
Around 50 TVs are posted throughout Redline, allowing people to watch their favorite games from any angle. A huge 11-foot projection screen and a sports news/scores ticker are prominent and can be checked from a number of tabletops and booths throughout the bar.
Most unique are the aforementioned built-in beer taps installed at several booths in the dining area allowing patrons to self-serve their brew of choice. Redline is only one of two spots in town to feature such table taps (Meridian Pint is the other). But, amateur bartenders, Beware! It’s not as easy as it looks and the electronic meter on the tap tracks how many ounces you pour, so charges can rack up quickly. Also, if multiple booths are open, peruse the beer selections at each station as some tables have more adventurous beers than others. So, match your mood from Bud Light to Sam Adams.
Barred in DC was recently invited by Redline to enjoy drinks and the great, inventive food (gator and a kobe beef hot dog are on the menu) and also previewed its new buffet brunch, which offers an immensely impressive spread from 10a-4p on Sundays ($25 + $10 for bottomless mimosas). As for the drinks, a solid 20+ $6-7 bottle beer list and a serviceable draft list are accompanied by a host of wines, shooters, and cocktails.
Unlike most sports bars, bottle service is available here and a DJ spins tunes weekend nights. In other words, those looking for a traditional sports bar with tons of sports paraphernalia and game broadcast sound routinely on and audible would probably prefer another place. Folks who want a nicer atmosphere or want to enjoy exceptional, not your average, “bar food” and drinks with others non-fanatics should check out Redline.
Barred in DC Rating: 4/5
One of the can’t miss blogs for anyone who lives in DC is PoPville (formerly known as Prince of Petworth). If you follow Barred in DC on Twitter, you know that bar news often is first broken or broadcast by the Prince, but he has also linked to my posts and I am a proud owner of a PoPville t-shirt thanks to my several tips in pre-Barred in DC days.
Last week’s PoPville Friday Question of the Day asked – What is your Favorite Bar in the District? I thought I’d compile the most popular picks into a post; I’ve been to nearly all of them and they’re all worth checking out. Do keep in mind that PoPville’s commentariat skews slightly older, DC hipstery and wouldn’t get caught dead in spots like Sign of the Whale or Lotus Lounge. No Georgetown or Foggy Bottom bars were nominated (no McFadden’s; shocking, I know).
Red Derby took the well-deserved top spot; this 2-story dive on the north edge of Columbia Heights is cash-only and serves its beer in cans only. There are lots of divey and neighborhood spots; you can dance the night away at Little Miss Whiskey’s and Wonderland. All the spots that received 3+ votes are listed below; ones that Barred in DC has not yet visited are italicized.
Most Popular PoPville Bars
1. Red Derby (Columbia Heights)
2. Boundary Stone (Bloomingdale)
2. The Big Hunt (Dupont)
2. Looking Glass Lounge (Petworth)
5. The Raven (Mt. Pleasant)
5. Right Proper Brewing Company (Shaw)
5. Meridian Pint (Columbia Heights)
8. Showtime Lounge (Bloomingdale)
8. Bravo Bar (Columbia Heights)
8. The Passenger (Shaw)
8. The Pug (H Street)
8. Little Miss Whiskey’s (H Street)
8. Breadsoda (Glover Park)
14. The Gin Joint (Woodley Park)
14. Wonderland Ballroom (Columbia Heights)
14. Stan’s (Downtown)
14. Chez Billy (Petworth)
Other spots receiving multiple nods include places in Dupont (Bar Charley, Dito’s Bar, Townhouse Tavern), U Street/Logan (Bar Pilar, The Gibson, Satellite Room, ChurchKey), Adams Morgan (Smoke and Barrel, Madam’s Organ, Black Squirrel, Millie & Al’s), Petworth (DC Reynolds), Downtown (Post Pub), & H Street (The Queen Vic),
Known for being a haven for NYC sports fans, 51st State Tavern (2512 L St. NW; Penn & 25th) might not be where you expect one of DC’s newest local food purveyors to showcase its products. But showing how far we’ve come in valuing local and new things, the Foggy Bottom spot will be hosting a Glover’s Pepper Sauce happy hour this Friday, April 11, 2014 from 5-7p.
Featured at the HH, held upstairs, are discounted sliders and wings made with one of the several peppers sauces produced by Glover’s (which are produced in the local incubator Union Kitchen, not to be confused with Union Market, I think), along with 51st State’s normal happy hour specials, which include $3.50 Bud Light drafts, $3.75 domestic longneck bottles, $3.75 51st Amber drafts, $4 Yuengling drafts & rails, $5 house wines, & $2 off specialty cocktails. The creator of the sauce, Jamie Glover, will be present handing out free samples of Glover’s flavors and answering questions about the sauces (one sample question: what is up with the suitcase on the label?)
The chef behind Glover’s Pepper Sauce, Jamie Glover, added some details as a comment:
Chef Jamie here! I look forward to tasting out my 3 sauces and spicy vinegar with all our fans. You will get a discount code for our online store when you pop by. I am giving away Glover’s Wings and Sliders for you to taste our original 5 pepper blend. My sauces are great to cook with, not too hot and fun to use in lots of different food. 51st State offers them for customers to put them on their whole menu.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: new places to eat and drink open their doors this week on 14th Street NW. I’ve compiled mini-previews of these spots-Compass Rose and Red Light, which couldn’t be more dissimilar from one another-are certainly worthwhile and unique additions to the rapidly changing hood.
Compass Rose Bar & Kitchen (Twitter, Facebook) – 1346 T St. NW – opens to invite only Saturday April 12th, opens to public Wednesday April 16th – Nearly a year after obtaining its liquor license, this cozy street foods neighborhood spot finally opens in a stunningly decorated space a few doors down from Cafe St. Ex. Expect an international menu and late hours. Ownership affiliated with neighborhood joints on the Hill including Star & Shamrock and Trusty’s (the main operators, inspired by travels/life abroad, live upstairs) (PoPville, Eater, WaPo)
Red Light (website, Twitter, Facebook) – 1401 R St. NW – opens Saturday April 12th (limited hours/menu until April 27th)- replacing the little-visited Bar di Bari at 14th and R, this 27-seat spot seeks to fit a unique niche as a dessert and cocktails spot for the post-dinner and late-night crowd. The name and the decor (less so) evoke the street’s past as a ladies-of-the-night destination (“burlesque cocktails” are currently on the menu). Along with the desserts (some are boozy and apparently can only be served to guests of age), there will be bottled and $10 cocktails on tap (looking forward to the Sazerac), a $7 Prosecco on tap, and a 44-seat patio in warmer months (perhaps tented/warmed) with a slushie station. The nightly happy hour (both early and late) should be popular. Will be open at 4p on weekdays, noon on weekends and close late on weekends. Owner also behind the nearby Drafting Table. (Washingtonian, WaPo, WBJ, Urbandaddy, WCP, Eater, InTheCapital)