Dear PoP – Argonaut’s reopened; where are the people?

“Dear PoP,

I was just hoping that you could plug the Argonaut now that it has reopened is ready for business. My wife and I live a few blocks away and have been 4-5 times since they’ve reopened as a tavern. Their upstairs (with a great view of the starburst intersection) and the patio are up, as are their booty beer and summer wheat on draft. They have a great neutella-and-homemade-peanut-butter sandwich, and their gazpacho is refreshing on these hot days.

The owners are such great people, and we’d hoped that more folks would be back to the Argo, given the huge crowds at both their fundraisers a few weeks ago. So far the place has been nearly (or completely) empty when we’ve been. The Argonaut has done so much for H Street that I feel that they could use all the help they could get.”

We talked about the fire at the Argonaut here. Argonaut is located at 1433 H Street, NE and looks like they have some great fish tacos. Get at ’em!

28 Comment

  • Man, there are a lot of great places in the H street area…but it’s just such a pain in the ass for me to GET there. Well, to GET HOME once I’ve had been there and had my fill of beer and whatever.

    • The lack of reliable public transportation is the single thing that’s keeping H Street from becoming the #1 entertainment destination in the District. The streetcars can’t get here soon enough!

    • Man, there are a lot of great places in the H street area…but it’s just such a pain in the ass for me to GET there. Well, to GET HOME once I’ve had been there and had my fill of beer and whatever.

      What an odd thing to say! I’ve always thought that was the problem with Adams-Morgan and Columbia Heights!

      • i don’t get it. why?
        the westbound x2 is unreliable at stopping. it has driven past me at least 4 times. waiting around late at night on the east end of h is both unsafe and unpleasant. the metro is over a mile away from most of the nightlife entertainment.
        thats not the case with either adams morgan or columbia heights.

        oh, and unlike both, h street has no off street public parking.

        • I’ve never had a problem parking down by H Street, and there’s no need to take a bus: there’s a free shuttle. And cabs. It’s every bit as close to the Metro as Adams-Morgan. And finally, I live in NE, so AM/CH is a schlepp and a half.

          Guess where you are determines what you see.

          • Indeed. The walk to the Metro from H Street is a very different journey than the walk from Adams Morgan. And cabs are still a lot harder to find on H than on 18th. Adams Morgan is also much better served by buses.

  • Once again, I think the argonaut’s popularity and the owner’s largesse is overstated. 10 years ago, people might have put up with the oily fried food and the mediocre service because there were no other options….now, there are abundant options and we’ll see whether the Arg was truly a gem, or merely a forgotten stepping stone.

    • “oily fried food and the mediocre service”
      That’s what it is for me. I’ll go there for a beer, but that’s pretty much it.

    • 10 years ago, people might have put up with the oily fried food … because there were no other options.

      Yeah, this – the last time that I had the fish tacos there, the fish tasted borderline rancid and the oil recycled … I got through about two bites. Still enjoy having a beer at the bar there, though

    • DC is a place where people will always put up with bad service (I haven’t been to Argo so I won’t comment that this is a statement on their service) – especially if there is outdoor seating. It was true in 1992 when I moved up here and it is true now.

  • Who cares, seriously?

  • Ive been to Argo once. Dont feel the need to ever go again. As stated previously, food was not in the least bit memorable. The bartender (i believe his name was Chris)was a complete jerk-off. Far better options on H St than this place.

  • I’m always hesitant to go down there because it’s on the far end, but that’s just being a little lazy and not walking the whole extra block from where RR sits.

    That said- after living in the area for a little while now I’ve had a great time every time I’ve gone there.

    The Sunday brunch is definitely worth the trip. I hope they get that going again soon.

  • bfinpetworth

    I’m an Argo fan. Food isn’t top notch, but some of it is quite good – better than your typical bar food for sure. But it’s more than the food – there is a great neighborhood bar vibe there with a little bit of hip thrown in. I don’t think its the kind of place people are going to come to from outside the local area there but if I still lived over there, it would def be one of my hangouts.

  • 1. manage (owner?) Scott (I think) was always a jerk with a chip on his shoulder

    2. food unreliable

    3. poor service

    Reason for no one going back is the quality of the experience, not the fire. I guess people are creatures of habit, so would go there habitually.

    With them being closed long enough for people to find other (better) places nearby, there’s no reason to return.

  • I concur with Magella’s comment. I can only speak w/regard to my personal experience, but I visited the Argonaut three times in as many years. In every instance,I found the service, food, and, most importantly, the attitude of the management and staff to be appalling.

    I am sure that there will be a riposte from an Argo loyalist claiming that I must be too demanding, etc., but the sheer number of accounts of negative experiences that have been shared about the place would hopefully give such patrons and the Argo management to cast the light upon themselves for once.

    Ultimately, it seems to be a place that is run ineptly by individuals who pander to a certain subset of the H street crowd, which in turn defends them because of their implicit inclusion behind the velvet rope.

    However, the velvet rope leads to a place that serves subpar, overpriced food, and that smells like an odd combination of urine, grease and vomit.

  • i’m a fan.
    i’ve had bad service there once. in about 50 times i’ve been there.

  • Ultimately, it seems to be a place that is run ineptly by individuals who pander to a certain subset of the H street crowd, which in turn defends them because of their implicit inclusion behind the velvet rope.

    God, what a douchebaggy thing to say. Have you ever even been to the restaurant in question. “Velvet rope” my ass.

    Anyway, it’s one of the few places on H Street with an integrated crowd and children. Not quite sure why a small but motivated group seems to have a bug up their ass about it. As “2” said, I’ve been there every couple of months for the last 3-4 years, and had bad service twice.


  • I’m probably biased because I’ve lived close to the Argo since it opened. I will say that they have had service issues at times. And sometimes those service issues were pretty bad. But I do love the Argo. And I think the service issues are happening only a small part of the time (based on countless visits). To my mind the Argo (when the kitchen is up and running) has some of the best burgers in town. I also love the calamari. I haven’t been there since they reopened post-fire, but I plan to go soon.

    To me part of the attraction is the friendly vibe. It really is a neighborhood joint. That said, many people from outside the neighborhood, and even outside DC, and some of those are regulars. This is particularly true with Booze Clues (pub quiz) on Wednesdays. The Argo welcomes anyone who behaves well. No need to be fancy, or to be a hipster to fit in there. The Argo has a very diverse clientele. That’s for a reason.

    The velvet rope comment made very little sense to me. But I will say that the mens room needs work. I’ve heard a bit about the rebuilding plans, hopefully these will include moving the mop to the basement. It would really help! But they are planning to put in a larger (part of the speed problem) kitchen. I expect them to come back better than ever. I also miss the sausage po-boy. Please bring it back (at least as a special)!

  • While I’m not the biggest fan of the Argo, it has its charms. I often go there because it is at times the most consistent place on H Street. The burgers are wonderful, and the lobster bisque is to die for, and then there are the fish Tacos. However, more so, its nice to have a place that’s been there a while, a place that’s sorta a touchstone. I was saddened to see them on fire. I’ve not always loved the service, but to be frank they tended to have some of the best service on H. While I am more of a Mayflower/town and Country type of bar goer, I like their rum collection ( and I don’t even like rum that much, but their knowledge and enthusiasm was refreshing). I’ve only had one bad bar tender, most have been great, and frankly, provided they keep selling the burgers, tacos, and bisque I’ll come back.

  • RobbyCU’s comment made me think a bit more about the Argo, and what I like about the place.

    Anon 3:51,
    at one point Argo had a very crappy bartender named Chris. He was a D-Bag through and through, but he got fired. They now have a different bartender named Chris. I assume that you mean the first dude.

    I really want to try the stuff they are serving now. I’ve been on a cold summer soup kick recently, and that stuff sounds awesome to me. I guess the main thing is (as mentioned above) that anyone can walk into the Argo and not feel out of place. Beyond that they have great beers, and a terrific rum selection. Plus, I love the patio.

  • I was just there the other night. Was excited to go for the first time. Had read the owners blog posts about the fire and was eager to support them and check out what looked like a cool neighborhood bar. But, I won’t be rushing back. Bartender/waiter was nice enough. Owners came in and basically refused to even make eye contact or answer a “hello”. I was not trying to be their new BFF or anything, but friendly and the lady acted like I had BO and the husband seemed borderline autistic. Not friendly at all. Dudes, that is no way to be a neighborhood pub!!

    Food was OK at best.

  • The Argonaut was best right after they opened, when the menu was much simpler. Fried catfish, mac & cheese, hot dogs, Buffalo wings. The clientele was a lot different back then, as well. Too many strollers these days.

  • The Argonaut, to me, is a family – and the reason I keep coming back. I have brought many friends here, and all of them have enjoyed both the food and the drinks. I was one of those who supported them at the fundraisers, and will continue to support them.

    I don’t live in the neighborhood, but consider the Argo to be “my” home away from home.

    • It is like a family…a dysfunctional family that you try to avoid and make up excuses to stay away from the reunions.

  • I didn’t have a problem with the service, but the food was awful. They screwed up a basic sauteed vegetable and rice dish (seriously?) and it was replaced with some sort of inedible tofu thing. Rice appeared to have been reheated in a microwave and was sort of crunchy and nasty. I wound up eating my brother’s fries.

  • the onion wings with honey are to die for. good beer selection, I’ve been a few times and will return.

  • ummm, its such a simple formula: fun servers, good food and cold beer. act like you want to be there (and not expect it to be a fine dining joint) and you will be welcomed into the fold!! Argo is my favorite place on H street-great street.

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