The follow-up guide to the rooftop bars guide and DC’s outdoor bars and beer gardens, is now linked on the front page.
Inspired by its placement on the NYT’s 52 Places to Visit in 2018, as well as Mrs. Barred in DC’s last minute trip to Europe with her sisters, I decided to make my first-ever solo trip (including work trips), to Cincinnati, Ohio over the July 4th weekend. After nearly 48 hours of bars, bites, breweries, bridges, and (sort of) baseball (alliteration much) by myself, I had a tremendous time and expect to come back soon.
Expect to spend a lot of time in the Over-the-Rhine district just north of the business district downtown. OTR, as it’s known, has blown up last few years and contains a grid of wonderful historic buildings with narrow streets and tons of spots to eat and drink. If you stay downtown (where several hotels are), you can walk about 20-30 minutes or take the Cincinnati Streetcar (free with ticket stub or $1 with purchase at each station). Friendly people all over.
Spots I went which I all recommend (OTR unless otherwise mentioned)
- Blind Pig/O’Malley’s in the Alley (Downtown) – Gets a lot of Reds fans post and pre-game. Big roof deck with view of bridges and Kentucky
- Lackman Bar – chill corner bar with great cocktails
- Homemaker’s Bar – new women-owned spot with a Spritz Hour every day
- Panino – new spot with paninos but with very cheap HH that I checked out
- Pin’s Mechanical – very fun spot with duckpin bowling, a roof deck, and other games
- Hofbrauhaus Newport (Newport, Kentucky) – an outpost of the original Munich beer garden across the river in Kentucky. Airey bright inside and massive beer garden
- Didn’t make it to, but recommended: Taft’s Ale House, Mecca OTR, Sundry and Vice, 16-Bit Bar+Arcade, Arnold’s Bar & Grill (Downtown), Blind Lemon (Mt. Adams), Incline Public House (not sure where), The Video Archive (not sure where0
- Rhinegeist – Massive warehouse spot with roof deck. Great beer.
- Christian Moerlin – old school spot in a catacomby sort of spot at edge of RTR
- Also try Madtree, Streetside, Urban Artifact (breweries are not close to downtown)
- Sotto – (Downtown) amazing pasta
- The Eagle – mini Midwest chain. Amazing fried chicken and tons of vibe.
- Sleepy Bee Cafe – great spot for breakfast/brunch
- Didn’t make it to but recommended: Pleasantry, Abigail Street, Salazar, Nada (Downtown), Skyline Chili. Also didn’t get Graeter’s Ice Cream and Holtman’s Donut
- Things to Do/Sights
- National Underground Railroad Freedom Center ($15)
- Carew Tower ($5, free if staying in attached Hilton – 49th-floor observatory deck)
- Hilton Netherland Plaza
- Washington Park
- Purple People Bridge – pedestrian bridge to Kentucky
- Murals all over OTR and downtown
- Smale Riverfront Park
- Weston Art Gallery
- 21c Museum Hotel
- Great American Ball Park (they love the Reds in Cincy)
- Stuff I didn’t see/do but recommended: Findlay Market, Queen City Underground Tour ($25), Contemporary Arts Center, American Sign Museum ($15, 10 min Uber away), Taft Historic Site (20 min bus)
Flights from DC are often less than $200 roudtrip-there’s about 14 non-stop flights daily on the big 3 airlines, with half of them from DCA. Once you arrive at CVG, 99% of travelers drive or take Uber/Lyft to/from airport, but there’s a $2 bus (the 2X) that takes 30 minutes downtown (runs mostly every 30 min on weekdays but much less frequent on Sat-Sun). Otherwise an Uber/Lyft is about $20-25. Hotel-wise, check out Hotwire or Priceline for their hidden hotel booking. I stayed at (which is its impressive sight on its own) the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza, an Art Deco masterpiece from 1930 for about $110/night.
Bunch of photos below
Yes, the headline is true. Legally speaking, islands in the Potomac River between DC and Arlington/Alexandria are part of the District of Columbia. This includes Columbia Island, where’ll you find the traffic circle opposite the Lincoln Memorial at the end of Memorial Bridge, and about 1.3 miles of George Washington Parkway towards I-395.
Also on this island is the LBJ Memorial Grove as well as the Columbia Island Marina overlooking the Pentagon Lagoon. Part of this marina is one of the more chill and somewhat unknown bars in DC, Island Time Bar and Grill. This seasonal outdoor spot is open from mid-April to late September and, during the Memorial Day – Labor Day period, Noon-7p Wednesday-Sunday (closed Mon-Tuesday). An outdoor bar with a friendly bartender is covered, as is a large patio. Live music is played every week (usually Saturday late afternoons). Drinks include $8 crushes (my Grapefruit Crush was made with Deep Eddy Ruby Red vodka and fresh squeezed fruit) and cocktails, several beers (including a few on draft), and $7 wines. Food is pretty standard fare; I hear the $16 crabcake sandwich is solid. Clientele is a mix of younger couples, cyclists taking a break, and older folks about to get on their boats.
The bar can be reached by car via GW Parkway Southbound or by bike/foot/scooter by taking the Mt Vernon Trail north from I-395 and taking an underpass under GW Parkway after crossing a short bridge.
One reason the spot hasn’t been on my radar: like other spots on National Park Service or Smithsonian properties in DC, no ABRA liquor license is required.
The follow-up guide to the rooftop bars guide, the guide to the rest of DC’s outdoor bars and beer gardens, is now linked on the front page.
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.