Judging Restaurants – Sangria Cafe


Sangria Cafe is located at 3636 16th St NW. Here’s another one I’ve always been curious about. It is so nondescript you could easily walk right past it without realizing it’s there. I know there are fans of the Woodner building, so any fans of the Sangria Cafe? Is it more of a restaurant or bar?

19 Comment

  • The woodner has fans? Roach fetishists perhaps? I kid.. I live there. Nice location, but the ritz it’s not. The Sangria is mostly populated with lumbering drunks and scantily clad Hispanic waitresses. It definitely doesn’t look like it deem a trip inside the circus which is the woodner for a tuna sandwhich.

  • I believe that restaurant space was once occupied by the same family that owned AV Ristorante. But i could be mistaken. I have always wondered about Sangria Cafe. Im thinking it could be a fun little dive to catch an afterwork drink and some chips but can the food be trusted? Also Ive always wondered about the woodner itself. it seems to have cheap rents. are the apartments in decent shape?

  • The history of the Woodner is fascinating. they had a deal with a local concert/broadway play promoter in the 1950s and 60s to house performers there when they played in DC:


    The article talks about Jayne Mansfield, but I’ve heard from an old timer that he hung out with Connie Francis there for an entire afternoon while she got interviewed in the lobby… as I remember him tell it.

  • saf

    I remember Fio’s. I miss Fio’s.

    Sadly, I have nothing of use to contribute here, as I have not been since they left and Sangria moved in.

    Ted Williams lived there when he managed the Senators.

  • Back in the 1960’s and ’70’s all of the performers who played at the Cater Baron stayed there and you’d see them coming and going all of the time. The atmosphere was very calm and friendly so they stop and talk to you. Then they built Merriweather Post Pavillion, stadium rock came into its own and poor little Carter Baron died from the competition.

    But enough nostalgia, I don’t know how the restaurant is because the Woodner has a real roach problem. Good Lord I’ve never seen so many. You walk down the corridors and the place constantly reeks of bug spray so eating on the premisis would be something I’d hesitate to do.

  • Yep, the Woodner used to be a swinging place. The lobby is still incredible–marble-clad walls, mid-century modern furniture. They’ve turned off the few water features. It was built at a time when ‘indoor cities’ were all the rage, and this place still has a video store, a convenience store, a restaurant, a bar, a dry cleaner, a day care, a dentist, and I think even a psychologist.

    It is a much bigger building than it appears from the street–there are 6 wings of apartments, and the ground slopes down toward Rock Creek Park so there are several floors of apartments below lobby level, in addition to those above ground that you can see from the street. I’ve definitely heard of bug problems. The affordable rents tend to attract some clientele (not all tenants) that have lower hygiene standards, and in a building this size (over 1,000 units I think), once the bugs get in, it is almost impossible to get rid of them.

    I live nearby and use the convenience store occasionally as there aren’t many other options along this stretch of 16th St. I tried the cleaners, didn’t like them. The Sangria Cafe looks pretty delapidated from what I’ve seen from the lobby. I can’t imagine anyone eats there unless they live in the building.

  • Went there when the restaurant was Fio’s…decent Italian-American food, not the greatest but a fun place. Fun concept of the building as mini-city…back then they even had a hairdresser (named so for all the elderly folk in the building, I guess).

  • The Woodner is a crazy bizarre city-in-an-apartment that surely has its benefits (price being one of them). But it also has BEDBUGS. Beware.

  • what about the pool. is the pool nasty?

  • I lived in the Wooder for over six years; It was a great value, great location, included all utitilities, and was rent controlled! Fio’s, the Italian restaurant that used to occupy the Sangria space, was owned/run by Fio Vasaio, who was indeed from the same family that ran AV’s (which stood for Augusto Vasaio). I went to Sangria a couple of times, last time being spring of 2002 or 2003. It had been opened by a couple, he from Spain, she from the US, and had serviceable Spanish food (comparable to Churreiria de Madrid). Not sure if they still own it becuase I’ve heard they now also serve Latin American food.

  • The Woodner is a really amazing building. Looks big from the street, but it’s four times as big as that. Check out the satellite view on maps.google.com, uploaded to my flickr: http://bit.ly/VGVob

    I would LOVE to rent an apartment at the top of the building looking out on Rock Creek Park. Or maybe even on a middle floor. Hell, the lobby level is a middle floor by the time you get to the back of the building.

    But if I were to rent the apartment, it would have to be 1960 again. Not today. No way, Jose.

  • Bedbugs will turn your world upside down and cost you more than the amount of money you save by renting here, trust me…

  • Lived there once upon a time. Ate there once when it was Fio’s, which was servicable. Sangria never held any appeal. Ran screaming from building when overwhelmed by the tide of roacheds and bedbugs. Hell on earth.

  • Vonstallin

    A couple of my interns use to live their and told me that UDC have somekind of thing work out so that students can live their for cheap (since UDC dont have dorms)…they have a shuttle system to vaness and my intern would use that to catch the train.

    It have alot of potential if the right developer comes in…Nuke the bugs, gut and rebuild.

  • I have lived near the Woodner for many years now. Sangria is pretty much alcoholics and MS13. No women seem to ever set foot in there if they don’t work there. The whole building has a creepy vibe. It has seen better days. The half-crazed Woodner sisters who are still rich and still own the place started a pretty major window renovation a few years ago. They never finished, but in classic, boneheaded Woodner fashion, they didn’t bother to finish the front, so it still looks like ass. The rest of the building is pretty much done.

    They finally took out the massive satellite dish that was in the parking lot last year. Might have been part of the SETI project for all I know – did I mention the Woodners are strange?

  • Lived at The Woodner in 99 and used to love Fio’s and the pool but haven’t been back since.

  • Sangria is a Tom Waits song. Perfection. Pick up a Tyler Perry flick on the way out and you have yourself an evening.

  • Were there really shallow wading pools on the roof of this place? Judging from the various aerial photos out there, I don’t see any trace of even an old roof deck, much less some wading pools.

  • Almost lived in the Woodner. Was set to move in but during my final inspection saw numerous freshly dead roaches and the big crack in the tub had not been repaired. Opted out and moved elsewhere.

    Tried restaurant when it was Sangria and Cafe. Was decent then but not many people there.

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