Judging Restaurants – SOVA espresso & wine


SOVA is located at 1359 H Street, NE. I suppose this is more of a coffee spot/wine bar but I’ve heard lots of good things about it. I see on the window they also offer pastries and desserts, are there other food options? It also looks like they have some nice tea options. Any fans out there? How are the prices?

25 Comment

  • I love it. It’s a bit pricy, but I’ve never had a bad drink there. The staff can be a little hipster-snooty at times, but it’s not like there are other options in the neighborhood. Also,, to be fair, everything on the block that’s not the HStCC is a little hipster-snooty.

    They have live music at night, a bar with decent staff and seating to hang out in the back and upstairs. My only request is that they develop an outdoor patio off the back alley so I can sit with the dog and have my drink.

    Also, if you live in Ward 6 and you want to have meet Councilman Wells in person, he comes here once a month for “Office Hours”.

  • I agree with Ragged Dog on all counts, and ask this question:
    Why are “hipsters” mean and/or unfriendly? Is it the way I dress or look? I don’t want to dislike “hipsters” or even categorize “them” but it’s hard not to when I’m treated poorly more often than not…

  • Best coffee in the city. Best atmosphere. Friendliest service.

  • Big fan. The coffee is Stumptown, which is awesome stuff, and the staff is friendly. Prices are good.

    The do a lot of evening events that are really well-attended–especially Bluegrass night. Good beers and wines.

  • The bluegrass is great as is the cocktail list which was designed by Derek Brown and features wine-based cocktails.

  • I’m a fan. I went for a show a little while back and appreciated the beer selection and the cocktail list.

  • Very nice place. I wish Columbia Heights had a place like it. I don’t know about the food selection but the drinks selection is great. The upstairs features a large room of comfy chairs and couches. It’s a great place to work, read, yip yap with friends or snuggle with your honey.

  • What I love about SOVA: Friendly and very helpful staff (both at the wine bar and at the cafe), atmosphere is just the way I like it–think: colonial meets H st, and a good mix if seating for parties of all sizes.

    What I wish would improve: the alcohol stockpile– nearly every time I go, I find a drink that can’t be made because of lack of ingredients. While frustrating, everything else completely makes up for it.

  • great tea and bagels. snooty management. i applied to work here and they never even bothered to call back.

  • I’m kind of surprised at the comments re staff and management, because I’ve never found them to be anything but fantastic.

    I can’t speak to their coffee because I don’t really drink it (an exception is made for Grape & Bean in Old Town and their fancy Clover machine) but their teas are excellent and they always have a nice selection of wines and beers.

    They’re also really good about letting local groups reserve space for meetings etc. I have at least a meeting there a month and they’re always really nice and accommodating.

    • You do realize that Clover is now owned by Starbucks. It’s a shame. My theory is that they are just buying new technology to keep the indie places down.

      • Yep. And, you’re absolutely correct. I was chatting with Dave (the owner over at Grape and Bean) about it and that is pretty much exactly what Starbucks was doing by scooping up Clover. There are currently approx. 50 independent coffee shops in the US that have a Clover, and once Starbucks bought it, they will only install them in Starbucks stores. However, they won’t install them in 99% of Starbucks stores because the Clover only brews one cup at a time, which is inconsistent with the Starbucks business model.

        Luckily for those 50 indie shops that were able to procure the machine (at $15,000 a piece) before the Starbucks purchase, the machines can be serviced by a company other than Starbucks. And thank God they don’t have to use crappy Starbucks coffee. (Grape and Bean gets all their beans fresh from Counter Culture, and they’re never more than a few days post-roast when they’re brewed)

        So yeah, Starbucks sucks.

        • From what I have heard, Starbucks is actually planning on opening a line of ‘upscale’ coffee joints, where the clovers will be in full use. Part as trying to aid their image as the mega-coffee chain (they did not always used to be that way) and part as just trying to move in on the segment of the market that actually likes coffee rather than just sweet fatty drinks w/caffeine.

          Starbucks does not, and would not want to, “keep the indie coffee shops down”. That much is clear in places like Seattle, where there is an indie or small local chain coffee shop for every Starbucks. The more there are people out there experiencing coffee and getting hooked on it, the more business they will have when those people are away from their regular coffee joint or in some high rent place like the airport or mall, where no indie place could survive. I would submit that Starbucks has helped bring the ‘coffee culture’ to mainstream america, which makes it so that an indie place can be set up in omaha or H street and still get customers and financing from the bank.

  • Nichole…the question you have to ask yourself is….”Am I a hipster?” Because if you are, you’re entitled to pleasant and accommodating service….

    Of course they’re nice to you, you’re bringing in dependable monthly business…

    I’ll go put on my chucks and my Buddy Holly outfit and see if that get’s me more pleasant service.

    • That’s a good idea! Kind of like a little “undercover” detective work. I’d be interested to find out if that works or not.

  • I don’t know, Ragged Dog. I usually look pretty preppy – I’m way more “Capitol Hill” than “H Street”. But I’ve gone in there dressed in all kinds of ways, and they’ve always been nice.

    I do sometimes where Chucks though, so maybe that’s the key…

  • er, WEAR Chucks… oy.

  • i’m poo poo. i’m a post hipster (the next big thing), and i give this joint a three thumbs up through 2012.

    you’re welcome.

    enjoy while it’s still “under the radar” as you crazy folks like to say….

  • While I like the space and the coffee is good, I am still grossed out by the fact that I saw two rodents running around inside. When I pointed them out to one of the staff, he shrugged and said, “It happens.” I thought his complacency was a bit…alarming.

  • I LOVE Sova. I don’t drink coffee, but the tea is fantastic. The sandwiches are only ok, but the pastries and cookies are terrific. The upstairs rooms with the comfy chairs and couches are great for getting work done, and they play quietish, soothing music, not pumping techno that drowns out my thoughts (I’m looking at you, Big Bear). Truthfully, if I could combine Big Bear’s food with Sova’s atmosphere and put it much closer to my home in Mt. Pleasant, I’d be there all the time.

  • Huge Huge fan. I spent much of the summer there studying for the bar exam. I love that it is not jam packed full of people, and that most of the folks are there to read or study (upstairs anyway). The coffee is excellent, with many different options of both roasts and preparations. The selection of tea is good. The staff is always super sweet and willing to shoot the breeze. The owner is very pleasant and helpful.

    I was really pleased when they began to offer the sandwiches and salads. I love the tuna w/capers, and I think the tabbouleh is pretty passable for DC.

    The prices are in line with what they should be, but the quality is primo.

    I would be there far more often if it was not across town from me.

  • Leslie, I understand being grossed out by rodents (mice). However, I do understand that this happens in buildings where there’s a lot of construction going on. I say this because I’ve seen a mouse or two in other H St establishments. Maybe the employees need to be a bit more understanding, but I don’t think the place is unkept.

    I’m there at least two or three days a week, and I love the place. I get more work done there than anyplace else I’ve tried. It’s quiet enough upstairs that even with 10 or so people, it’s not crowded.

    I actually like the sandwiches. Especially the Fontina and Gruyere with pesto and sun dried tomatoes.


  • I’m a bit hesitant to give Sova a good review just because I love it so much and I want to keep it all to myself! I take the bus all the way there from Columbia Heights, and its worth it.

    But then I’ve been a fan of Intelligentsia beans for more than a decade, beginning with my life in Chicago. Geoff Watts spends most of the year scouring the earth and personally selecting the beans that become part of the Intelligentsia repertoire. It isn’t just my personal opinion, Intelligentsia is routinely ranked among the best beans in the world!

    Their pastries are good, the atmosphere is great. I particularly love the sofas in the back room. Sooo comfy. I haven’t noticed the prices being any higher than any other coffee shop.

  • Great place for a morning coffee and reading the paper. Best coffee in town – fresh brewed intelligenstsia and brewed with care. Free wifi and plenty of relaxed, quiet spots to sit and read or more than a few places to gather with friends to catch up.

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