Redline

Redline First Floor Entrance
Redline First Floor Entrance

Redline, websiteFacebookTwitter,  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, WCPZagatIn a DC MinuteYelp]

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…

Main Dining Area with Booths
Main Dining Area with Booths

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.

Some of Redline's ~50 TVs
Some of Redline’s ~50 TVs

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.

Main bar area with ticker and huge projection
Main bar area with ticker and huge projection

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.

Pouring own beer! Also, some of the great food served.
Pouring own beer! Also, some of the great food served.

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.

Another view of main bar area
Another view of main bar area

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

Cozy secluded bar near entrance
Cozy secluded bar near entrance
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DNV Rooftop Lounge

DNV Rooftop Lounge, website, Facebook, Twitter, 1155 14th St. NW (on Thomas Circle near M St. NW), opens at 5p (weekdays) 7p (weekends) closes at 1a, est. 2008 (renovated 2013) [Yelp, WaPo, Thrillist]

View overlooking DC
View overlooking DC

High atop the Donovan House, a Kimpton Hotels property located on Thomas Circle and 14th Street (in somewhat of a no-man’s land between downtown and the Logan Circle/14th Street neighborhood), is the DNV Rooftop Lounge.  This newly renovated and renamed spot (DNV evokes the name of the hotel, but also is said to stand for “Damn Nice View”) surrounds a pool (though you can’t swim while the bar is open) and is located 14 floors above the city with a sweeping 180-degree view of DC to the north.

The bar at the beginning of happy hour
The bar at the beginning of happy hour

Although you wonder where the $300,000 that reportedly cost the hotel to renovate the space went, DNV lives up to its billing as one of the best rooftops to get a drink in the city. Featured at the main bar (there is a smaller satellite bar near the pool) is a refreshing Pimm’s Cup on tap, pricey “towers” filled with cocktails for a group to share, and two frozen drink machines.

Seating between pool and main bar
Seating between pool and main bar

Go for the weekday happy hour, which runs from 5-7p. The draft Sapporo beer is $5, all the wines are $7, and select cocktails are around $6 (half-off the mostly $12 cocktails).  At a recent happy hour on a beautiful mid-80s summer day, the HH cocktails were the Pimm’s Cup, both sangrias (get the White Rabbit Sangria, with chardonnay, acai berry vodka, pineapple, orange), and a frozen drink made by the bartenders.  The latter-although the concoction wasn’t ready until half-way through the happy hour- it was well worth the wait and rivaled Estadio’s slushitos for the best frozen drink in the city.

The pool + satellite bar + more seating
The pool + satellite bar + more seating
One of DNV's terrific frozen drinks
One of DNV’s terrific frozen drinks

To get a seat at the bar or around the pool during happy hour, make sure you get there by 5:30; otherwise the place gets a bit crowded.  If you get there before the bar opens, the downstairs Zentan restaurant (which supplies the Asian-influenced food upstairs) has a happy hour with decent food specials from 3-7p.

Barred in DC Rating: 4/5

Local 16

Local 16, website, Facebook, Twitter, 1602 U St. NW, opens at 5p (weekdays) 11a (weekends), HH 5-8p weekdays, est. 2002 [Yelp, Tripadvisor, Washingtonian]

Local 16 and its great roof deck from the other side of U Street
Local 16 and its great roof deck from the other side of U Street

From the Hilton Brothers, Local 16 sort of helped kickstart the transformation of the U Street Corridor to full-blown yuppie-dom when it opened in fall 2002 at 16th (hence the name, though it actually really borders New Hampshire Ave., not 16th Street) and U.  Even a decade later, this dimly-lit (my photos are worse than the terrible quality they usually are) scarlet-hued spot still packs the crowds and you’ll often find a fast-moving line out front to get in on Saturday nights.  The folks who frequent this spot skew a bit younger and certainly preppier than the other Hilton Brothers spots I’ve been to ((18th Street Lounge, Marvin, The Brixton).

Local 16
Local 16

Local 16, like 18th Street Lounge, has several rooms, spaces, and stairs and feels sort of like someone’s mansion.  On the first floor-to the right of the entrance-are two rooms, the first of which contains a bar (beer selection is usually better here than the rest of the spot) and the other with ample loungey seating.  These areas are usually the least crowded in the bar. Upstairs up a long double staircase is the rest of the bar. To the right upstairs is the dark, dance floor that gives Local 16 its meat market reputation.  Usually you’ll find lots of folks dancing in here to the loud music.  There’s a small bar in this space; you can choose from the standard boring Heineken/Amstel/Miller bottled fare but not much else.

Rooftop at happy hour
Rooftop at happy hour

To the left of the stairs is easily the best feature Local 16: the huge partially covered rooftop that overlooks U Street.  Packed in nice weather, the roof is basically partitioned in two; the side closest to the bar is usually much more crowded. One nice touch is that there is bench seating along the fence on U Street which means you usually can grab a seat if you want (not that many folks do).  Again, nothing special with drinks and beers (you’ll pay $7 for a beer and a rail drink here), but the roof is a nice place to catch up in a more relaxed and better lit atmosphere than the rest of the place.  One large downside of the rooftop is that (likely owing to a settlement/voluntary agreement) it closes at 1 AM so you can stay out all night drinking al fresco.  Aside from the roof, taking the back set of stairs that take you back to the 1st floor bar (Full House style) is always strangely cool.

7/27/13 Update: Local 16 has a great happy hour Monday-Friday. Not only are nearly all items $5 (including specialty cocktails and 8″ pizzas), it goes (from 5p) to 8p, which is a rarity in DC.

Downstairs bar at happy hour
Downstairs bar at happy hour

Although it definitely has a meat market loungey/sorta-clubby vibe and skews a bit younger than most spots on U Street, Local 16 is a fun place to stop by every once in a while that still feels grown-up compared to most bars in Dupont/Adams Morgan on a weekend night.

Barred in DC Rating: 3.5/5


J&G Steakhouse – Wine Bar & Patio

J&G Steakhouse – Wine Bar & Patio, website, Facebook, Twitter, 515 15th St. NW (15th and Pennsylvania near G), open 5-11p (Sun-Thu) 4p-midnight (Fri.-Sat.) + lunch non-Sunday, est. 2009 [Yelp]

View of the Patio and the Treasury Building
View of the Patio and the Treasury Building

[Update 6/22/13: Wine Bar and newly constructed bar upstairs to be renamed Bar 515, opening in mid-September] The W Washington hotel, with a location a block from the White House, is a popular spot for celebrities (I think I saw a Jonas brother one time) and presidential fundraisers.  It also is famous for perhaps the best view in all of the District(of the Monument and the Mall and the White House) in its rooftop P.O.V. Lounge bar; surprisingly, I actually still have not made it there in its current incarnation (I once had an awkward summer associate outing when it was the decidedly less hip Hotel Washington).

J&G Wine Bar
J&G Wine Bar

Down below, you can find one of the best steakhouses in DC, the J&G Steakhouse, where tucked under the dining room, somewhat below the ground level, is one of the more pleasant surprises in downtown DC, the Wine Bar.  It’s a nice, cozy, rarely crowded spot with a small bar with about 6 seats, a long communal table in the middle, a few tables off to the side, and more bar stools along a railing that faces the patio.  Speaking of which, J&G’s Patio (which sort of seems to be claimed by both the J&G Restaurant and its Wine Bar), is one of the nicest non-roofdeck patios in the city.

Umbrellas and tables on the patio
Umbrellas and tables on the patio

Facing both 15th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, this expansive space has several tables with umbrellas along with small firepits surrounded by brown couches.  Owing to its location right in tourist central, there are often more tourists here than the typical DC spot, as the patio is hard to resist, but it’s rarely crowded (these pictures are misleading as they were taken at the Spring Patio Launch Party) and the Patio often hosts barbecues and parties to coincide with big events like July 4th.

Another view of the Patio
Another view of the Patio

Not really a late night spot (good for happy hour or early evening), the Patio and Wine Bar are solid, nicer choices downtown with solid cocktails and wines (though the beers are the standard Stella/Amstel/Heineken bottled kind of crap).

Barred in DC Rating: 3.5/5

 

Chi-Cha Lounge

Chi-Cha Lounge, web site, Facebook, Twitter1624 U St. NW, 202-234-8400, opens at 5p everyday, HH 5-7p M-F, est. 1997 [Yelp, WaPo]

Small hookah bar/lounge with lots of couches, $8 beers, and a dress code.  If you like that sort of thing, you might like it. I don’t. Have been here twice as it was a block away from my old home, but not since 2008. Latin-themed, opened in 1997. Right next to a Barred in DC favorite, Stetson’s-these two bars could not be more different.

Barred in DC Rating: 1.5/5

 

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