Category Archives: Chinatown / Penn Quarter

So Long Iron Horse Tap Room, Long (?) Live Boardwalk in Penn Quarter

Ground Floor Bar at The Borad

The Boardwalk, 507 7th St. NW (at E St), M-F open at 4p, Sat-Sun 2pish, HH 4-7p M-F Sat-Sun 2-5p, Twitter, website (est. 2019)

Iron Horse Tap Room, the biker-themed Penn Quarter spot with games and a solid beer list, unceremoniously closed on Saturday October 26th, two months shy of a full decade in operation.The announcement that it would be replaced by The Boardwalk came first October 3rd from the Washingtonian right after PoPville reported the imminent closing (Eater also picked up the news; like most bar news in DC, if you only read the Washington Post, you still won’t know this happened). The owners of Iron Horse appear to retain ownership in The Boardwalk, but they have now brought on the folks who run the super-bro Shaw bars Cortez and Takoda-to be managing partners. The spot opened officially last night, as detailed in this Washingtonian story. (posting the story and a pic of the menu brought strong reactions-see below)

Via Washingtonian

Barred in DC stopped by the new spot for happy hour last night. The ground floor is certainly transformed-the floor is painted white and everything is much brighter. Instead of motorcycles, beach cruiser bikes you might rent at a boardwalk are hung. The basement basically seems identical to Iron Horse, with a few new games and a paint refresh. The opening night menu features eight $12 cocktails on draft (including the Takoda Mule and Cortez Margarita), as well as eleven draft beers. Aside from the much ridiculed $7 Miller Lite and the even-worse priced Miller High Life, the other beers are $8-9 which are about $1 more for many of the same beers were priced two weeks before. Other than a 7 oz. pony bottle of High Life, no cans or bottles are yet offered. During happy hour, the draft cocktails are $4 off, the High Life is $3 off, and rails are $5; a “Happy Meal” with a 7 oz High Life + a shot of whiskey (Evan Williams per the bartender) is offered. Because why not, I got the “Butter Corn Old Fashioned” which was boozy as the menu claimed-made with butter washed bourbon, bitters, demara, and black walnut; garnished with a maraschino cherry. Not gonna lie, I liked it and probably is worth might be even worth the $12 it costs.

Butter Corn Old Fashioned and Popcorn

Food options are slim: a hot dog (a follower said it was great-$6 made by Autumn Olive Farms; $1 more for chili on it), $5 ice cream sandwich, and $2 freshly made popcorn (nothing special, but tasted good). Hot dogs are $4 and popcorn is free during happy hour. No corn dogs or cotton candy so far, though mentioned in initial releases.

The Iro…er, The Boardwalk, basement bar

Based on Twitter chatter, none of the bartenders from Iron Horse (which was apparently popular with industry late night crowd in the neighborhood) are with this new incarnation. Twitter reaction has not been kind. Here are a sampling of comments, bulleted for your edification (like those meme stealers on Instagram, I’m taking all the credit for these):

  • I was really excited to go to this boardwalk themed bar which surely wasn’t going to attract a bunch of annoying people but then I saw High Life was $7 and I decided to shut my face in a car door repeatedly instead
  • So they closed a great bar to reopen as an awful bar. Awesome.
  • Before a Caps game there’s nothing I want to do more than drink a candy apple spritz
  • I went for a drink tonight to see what they did to Iron Horse. The people that created this monstrosity definitely have this sign [that says ‘live’ ‘laugh’ ‘love;’]. The entire place reminds me of that episode of Bar Rescue when they turned Piratz in Silver Spring into a corporate bar.
  • Iron Horse was a great late night industry place. Boardwalk on the other hand will not be…looks like Jackpot will benefit from IH closing
  • It sounds like an the menu looks like a touristy cash grab.
  • “Have you tried their butter corn old fashioned?” is code for “I just moved here recently from out of state”
  • …we lost Iron Horse for this?
  • Trash.
  • Just walked by…no thank you…
  • This is awful.
  • F this place. Bring back Iron Horse Taproom.
  • I give that place a year maybe 2. Should’ve opened it in Clarendon.
  • Wellp. So much for this place. That’s just disappointing as hell.
  • Is there an upcharge for “Boardwalk Lager” champagne service?
  • Already hate this place. Iron Horse had a great drought list, and happy hour applied to everything. Hate it when they throw the lousiest beer on their happy hour menu and call it a day. Losing both Iron Horse and Penn Commons was a major blow for HH in Chinatown.
  • $7 for a Miller Lite. The Boardwalk is the bourgeoisie.
  • First RFD is gone… Then Iron Horse…now THIS bullshit?
  • the worst part is there will still be tons of people there paying $7 for a damn miller lite.
  • I just got a lot less excited.
  • God damn it
  • Lol wtf seriously #MillerHighLife $7 huh well I know where I wont bring the kitchen cooks and bar staff… damn guys you need to stay more competitive with the other bars… what the hell is up with your beer prices
  • That draft list is just a bit ersatz compared to iron horse.
  • $7 for a high life?! this place will be closed by next baseball season.
  • Have they even SEEN a beach before—no one is paying 7 dollars for a damn Miller Lite. Also, what’s with no hard seltzer??
  • No boardwalk fries, no orange crush. Sick.
  • Somehow a cocktail being on tap makes me feel significantly worse about paying $12 for it.



Philly Transplant Misconduct Tavern Coming to Penn Quarter

Misconduct Tavern is coming to Penn Quarter [707 G St. NW, website, Facebook, Twitter]. The nautical-themed spot currently has two locations in downtown Philadelphia and is taking over the Redline (and short-lived 10 Tavern) prime space right across from the Capital One Area. The bar will apparently be an upscale sports bar with craft beer, solid burgers & house-made hot dogs, and other pub food (sounds fairly similar to another Philly transplant a few blocks away-City Tap House). The original Misconduct opened near Rittenhouse Square in 2005 (“Misconduct” was apparently the name of the 1st owner’s boat); the second in 2015.

Redline was in the spot from 2010-2016, while 10 Tavern lasted just 15 months, closing back in April. Before that, lounge Indeblu was in the space from 2004 to 2009.

Penny Whisky Bar Opens in Chinatown

The Bar at Penny Whisky Bar

[Edit: Apparently as of January 4th, 2019, Penny Whisky Bar had closed and new management (building owner and grandson) had renamed the spot bar618 with similar menu as before.

Penny Whisky Bar
[Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, 618 H St.  NW, open at 3p everyday] quietly opened in late May (with grand opening June 1st) in the heart of Chinatown, just steps from the Gallery Place Metro station. The bar/eatery is located on the 2nd floor above the longtime mainstay, Chinatown Garden, which shares ownership but is otherwise quite different. The “penny” theme is apparent upfront as the ground floor entry way’s floor is embedded with hundreds of pennies (I was told that the penny is a reference to some Chinese luck proverb).

The focus is on whiskey (duh) is shown on the menu, numbering 175 varieties (though nothing incredibly rare including multiple Pappy Van Winkle’s); using Basil Hayden as the “rail” whiskey is a great touch ($5 during happy hour, which runs 4-7p). Happy hour also includes $4 drafts (hard to get a pint of Guinness that cheap elsewhere in DC) as well as $5 rails; all night specials for now include $5 Ciroc vodka and $3 Budweiser/Bud Light/Michelob Ultra/Shock Top cans. Food comes from Chef E Marshall, a previous contestant on MasterChef and a cook for celebrities.

Embedded in Bar

I foresee this spot doing well with the diverse crowds that already frequent the spot as well as folks looking for cheap drinks before or after Verizon Center events but not in a divey atmosphere. The Hilton Brothers’ soon-to-open spots, the Crimson Diner + Whiskey Bar, is directly across the street in the Pod DC Hotel, however, so the competition will be fierce.

Drink menus and other pictures below:


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

R.F.D. Washington

R.F.D. Washington, website, Facebook, Twitter810 7th St. NW (7th & H), opens at 11a everyday, HH 3-8p everyday, Distance to Verizon Center: 900 feet (Brought to you by DC Sports Nexus), est. 2003 [Yelp, WaPoTripadvisor, Beeradvocate]


The front of RFD – Excited bouncer

Although Penn Quarter/Chinatown has a ton of bars, a handful of which are solid, and I live a mile away and work 5 blocks away, I rarely make it over to this neighborhood, for a lot of different reasons that I won’t get into here.  When I do come to the area, it’s to catch a movie or attend a Wizards or Caps game (or some other event or concert) at the venue which made the neighborhood a destination after it opened in 1997, the Verizon Center (formerly MCI Center).

Main area of RFD

Main area of RFD

One of the bars I might check out before or after a game or movie, up on 7th St. just north of H, is R.F.D. Washington.  This bar, which stands for “Regional Food and Drink” (I know, terrible), opened in January 2003 and is owned by the family that brought you the legendary Brickskeller, one of the first and biggest beer bars in the U.S., which was operated in Dupont Circle until 2010 (now the Bier Baron, under different ownership).  R.F.D. itself is a beer-lovers haven-you’ll find a huge beer menu, a ton of beers on tap, and a host of beer events (though usually off the radar compared to others spots like Churchkey, Meridian Pint, or even the nearby Penn Social).

RFD's happy hour menu during the playoffs

RFD’s happy hour menu during the playoffs

I recently stopped by before a Capitals playoff game; happy hour until 7p includes four different $4 craft draft beers-all solid, unique, and new to me-along with a skip-it $5 “Rockin’ Red” shot (Finlandia cranberry flavored vodka, Triple sec, and a splash of cranberry juice) (see above for HH menu and below the Caps shots).  Beers normally are the standard craft-beer price, $6-8. The bar, probably because it is so huge, is full of folks in red jerseys but not too crowded even before a sold-out playoff game.

$5 Rockin' Red Shots - skip em

$5 Rockin’ Red Shots – skip em

R.F.D.’s atmosphere is not really divey or hip, it’s evokes more of a T.G.I. Friday’s vibe (unless you’re in a basement or crappy hotel-it’s hard to be divey in Chinatown). You’re not going here to rage or have a romantic classy cocktail.  Walking in, there are two small seating areas on opposite sides of the entrance which flank 7th Street-they are isolated from the rest of the bar but are exposed to natural light.  A few steps up take you to the main part of R.F.D. A long u-shaped bar is to your left-the bartenders are pretty responsive and there’s usually enough space to stand near the bar, while ordering and drinking. The bulk of the room is devoted to lots of regular tables like a restaurant with waiter service which kind of contributes to the chain restaurant atmosphere; a few more hightops and communal tables would help.

Outdoor covered patio/courtyard area of RFD

Outdoor covered patio/courtyard area of RFD

After you wind your way through the tables, glass doors lead you to the outdoor patio area.  Although covered with absolutely no view (more like a greenhouse courtyard than anything), the patio has its own bar (not always open) and waiter service and lets you drink outside-this is surprisingly hard to do in the neighborhood.  Beyond, there is a whole another large back room (in a different building) with its own bar, tables and more open space than the front bar-if you’re looking for a relatively more party-vibe in R.F.D., this is where you’ll find it.

Back bar of RFD

Back bar of RFD

Although not really a destination of itself, R.F.D. is a solid spot to meet friends and grab great beers before or after a game.

Barred in DC Rating: 3/5


Caps game afterwards, just 900 feet away

Caps game afterwards, just 900 feet away