Judging Newly Reopened Bars – Toledo Lounge

“Dear PoP,

Can you put out a call for thoughts on the new Toledo Lounge in Adams Morgan? Once my favorite dive bar I loved for the Ohio theme, quirky servers, lack of crowds, perfect grilled cheese sandwich and the “When It Rains, We Pour” happy hour, it is now trying its hand at being “trendy” with an expensive beer list and “small plates.” The Toledo Lounge I love is gone! Interested to know what you and your readers think.”

Toledo Lounge is located at 2435 18th St. NW in Adams Morgan. It was sold back in Feb. ’11 to the owners of the Black Squirrel and Ventnor Cafe. I haven’t had a chance to check out the newly reopened space, but looking in the window it looks like not much has changed.

For those who’ve checked it out – what are your initial thoughts?

55 Comment

  • Agree with OP. Toldeo Lounge is gone forever.

    • +1 to this. They shouldn’t have kept the Toledo Lounge name if they were going to gut the character and good grub out of this place. For shame.

      I’ve also got from a good source that the new Toledo Lounge is also owned by the same guy as Black Squirrel. Looks like Toledo’s getting added to my own personal blacklist of bars.

      • By “good source” do you mean the blog post you’re currently commenting on? Because it’s mentioned above. Your source must read PoP!

        • Ha, I guess I skipped over that part of the post! I heard about this from my roommate a few days ago, actually.

  • Went there last night. The place is trying way too hard. We almost got made at the place. It’s basically a cleaner version o fthe old Toledo. Why did they even bother? Might as well have gutted and made the bar into something different.

  • I’m not even sure the new owners have ever been to Toledo before, because I have, and they don’t do “small plates” in Toledo. It’s a decidedly un-fancy, unpretentious town.

    • Um, maybe they’re now referring to the other Toledo? The original, in Spain, where they always have little plates called tapas? If so, it’s pretty clever.

  • Yeah I won’t be going here. Good dives are getting harder and harder to come by in this city. And don’t say I should go to The Raven because that place is cloaked in something like six layers of irony.

    • If you came here in search of good dives, you’re in the wrong place. Get ready to get your cupcake on.

      • I wouldn’t say in the wrong place, rather in the wrong time.

        The dives are dying, if not dead.

        Raven used to be ….
        Toledo used to be ….


  • RIP Toledo Lounge.

    This was the first place I went to meet my friends when I arrived in DC 7 years ago– straight from the airport with a duffle bag and a laptop.

    The ‘small plates’ news is a dagger in my heart.

  • I like it waaaay more before the renovations. But they do now have Monk’s sour ale, so as a Philly area native they definitely earned some points with that one. And yes, the ‘small plates’ menu is totally bogus.

    I think they should have changed the name and just opened a whole new place. The new menu & decor does not resemble the old Toledo at all. Womp 🙁

  • Already miss the nachos.

  • This used to be me and my friends’ Wednesday night spot, I had a birthday here as well; in other words it was my favorite neighborhood bar. I was really sad to hear that it got sold but thought that I would give it a try. I went in last week and it felt like a Disney, TGIF’s, corporate takeover over my favorite DC bar.

  • They should’ve renamed it Tressel’s Vessel.

  • One beer under $5. Gin and Tonics for $9. Change the name, because that ain’t Toledo Lounge. The nice thing about the old place was that you could go there and drink… without breaking the bank – beginning of the night, end of the night or all night long.

  • My wife and I really liked Toledo Lounge. It had grime. It had character. It had strong connections to Ohio, where my wife went to college. This new place has none of those things; one look through the window on Sunday made it easy to decide we would not be going to the “new” Toledo Lounge. They should have changed the name. It’s just depressing to be reminded of what used to be there.

  • Just out of curiosity, how much $$ was this perfectly grilled grilled cheese sandwich at the old TL? If it was more than $2, it was “expensive.”

    • I believe it was around $3.50 (with lots of fries) on half-price night. $3.50-worth of delicious. Sigh.

  • To the new owners: if something ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Well you “fixed” it, and now it most assuredly is broke. Another boring, could-be-anywhere bar…thanks for nothing.

  • Put me in the minority as someone who doesn’t mind that Adams Morgan is growing up a little bit and no longer thinks of gross beer and grilled cheese as a sustainable business model.

    • Scoot – TL had decent beers as well as “gross” ones. And trust me, you wouldn’t have caught me dead in there on a Friday or Saturday night with the drunken masses, but during the week…it was a beautiful thing.

    • Growing up?

      Toledo Lounge was the antithesis of the Adams Morgan bar-it was where grown up people went to get away from the all the loud and obnoxious drunks who wandered the strip in search of jello shots, jumbo slice, and ass. And it was great people watching…

      Epic epic epic fail.

      • Yes! Maryland weekenders didn’t go to Toledo. College crowd didn’t go to Toledo. Most probably did not realize it was there. It was an opportunity to drink reasonable drinks (price and quality), eat decent bar food and watch and observe the unruliness of 18th St.

        • I’m guessing those folks won’t go to the new Toledo either (they don’t really go to Black Squirrel or downstairs Bourbon either on weekends).

          • No they don’t. I like Bourbon a lot, but I like it when I’m in the mood for good booze and $12 food. Toledo was great for a cheaper evening. Not everyone wants to spend $6-8 per beer and $9 for a mixed. Not everyone looks down their nose at cheap beer (not assuming that you do).

  • I loved the old Toledo Lounge. I haven’t been to the new one yet, but I also love the Black Squirrel, and the Toledo Lounge always struck me as needing some better beer options, so I’m willing to give it a chance.

  • they had the best BLT’s around! I loved that place when I lived in Adams Morgan…such a shame. Why would they keep the same name???

  • Bring Back Tom! And 1/2 priced burger nights. And $2 beers. And get rid of the Salmon Croquettes . . . Croquettes??? Are you kidding me??? Toledo Lounge was one of the only bars in Adams Morgan where everyone truly knew your name (or at least what you liked to drink!). The new owners should have done Toledo regulars a favor and just burned the place down . . . at least that way we wouldn’t have a constant reminder of what will never be again. Once you step inside the place you’ll quickly learn that EVERYTHING has changed.

    • And the way they treated the beloved staff of the original Toledo during the wind-down was completely, absolutely, wrong. No real notice, just let them go after years of service. Eff that.

  • Oh, for just one more blue pig, one more basket of onion rings, one more no-nonsense extended happy hour beer as the summer sun slowly sets…

  • So you guys are telling me you don’t know which bar(s) to go to to escape the chaotic Friday/Saturday night crowds on 18th Street?

    Then I do not want to tell ya.

  • me

    That makes me so sad to hear! I was born and raised about 45 minutes away from Toledo, OH (Sandusky…. Cedar Point? Tommy Boy? Anybody…?) and my family is still there. When I first moved to DC almost 10 years ago (holy crap), I remember getting a discount because I had an Ohio license. It was my go-to place in the area and it was the only place whose grilled cheese rivaled my mom’s. I’ll miss it. 🙁

  • Did anyone else notice they got rid of perhaps the best jukebox in DC (or at least re-vamped the playlist)? Also I’d like my 15% off discounts back on Friday nights for showing my old Kenyon ID. An utter and total failure.

  • The picture on top of this thread is dope.

  • The old place really hadn’t embodied the Toledo ethos for years, either. The owner was from Toledo, but most of the employees had never been far from DC.

  • I tried out the new Toledo lounge last week and the two plates I ordered were indeed small, but absolutely delicious. The beer selection was solid but as others noted, a little pricey.

    While I too like the option to buy a $3 pint, most bars in Adams Morgan already function as a dive bars during weeknights and offer just that. This adds more variety to the neighborhood. It looks like Asylum will be next to follow suit, but as I said, I’m far from worried about running out of dives.

    Also, what exactly is the Toledo ethos? It seems to be nostalgia judging from these comments.

    • Clearly you weren’t a regular at the Toledo Lounge. I actually got to know my server (unlike most other places in AM, or DC for that matter). He was a no nonsense, no “HI!!! Welcome to the Toledo Lounge!!! My name is…” business. He was there to serve you drinks and food as quickly as possible. It was a dive bar of routine… unlike many of the other bars in the area that only serve to extract money from the local college students in the most efficient ways.

      The thing is, the Toledo Lounge didn’t “die out.” It was still going strong when it was sold, so perhaps this is the best way for it to die.

      I agree, they shouldn’t have named it Toledo Lounge if they were going to significantly change the bar. Sure, it could have used a little upgrading, but small plates and $9 G&Ts? Hmmmm.

      That said, I’m a fan of the Black Squirrel. It took that horrible Irish bar and converted it into something worth visiting, and returning to. I really can’t bad mouth the new owners. They know how to run a nice local pub.

  • New ToLo serves uninspired sangria and there isn’t a burger or nacho to be found. Seriously, why?

  • I for one am willing to give this place a chance. I am a huge fan of Ventnor for the reasons you all say you liked the old Toledo – a delicious half price burger night, a regular crowd and bartenders who care to know your name, and regional affiliations and a menu homage (to Philly).

  • Fancy place prices in a dive bar atmosphere such a great concept!. I wish the old toledo lounge some how magically came back . RIP “real” toledo lounge and my other old time favorite Common Share.

  • so, it looks like mellow mushroom is going into the spot across the street that anzu/18th & red/whatever formerly occupied. any updates?

    • Is that confirmed?? J’adore Mellow Mushroom and miss it(I don’t really care for the super-thin crusts pizza’s that are popular in most joints in DC) Mellow Mushroom is the best (crusts made using spring water- can’t beat it)!

  • Dan, if you liked the old Toledo Lounge, you would have loved the old Black Squirrel. T.S. mutley’s was a real dive bar.

    We lost Adams Mill and Toledo in the same week a few months back. It was a sad time! At least we have Bistro 18…

    • t.s. mutley’s was a waste of space, IMO. not a dive bar, just a real shitty attempt as an irish pub. run by some kid who won some money on a reality show, if I recall. like the poster above mentioned, there ARE OTHER chill spots, but if you don’t know, I ain’t gonna tell yah!

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