What DC Neighborhood Would Best Support a Chicago Style Saloon?

Photo by PoPville flickr user Laura_Grageda

“Dear PoP,

One of the great things about Chicago is the quaint neighborhood restaurant/saloon. I was wondering what growing neighborhood in DC you and your readers thought could most use a simple but fun watering hole that also serves decent, reasonably-priced food. Bloomingdale? Hill East? Brookland? Navy Yard/Baseball Stadium?”

Ed. Note: This is one of the most fun things I love about running this blog – getting contacted by business owners who seek our genuine feedback. This business owner is legitimately looking into opening a spot up like this in DC. Obviously many people are simply going to state the neighborhood that they live in (myself included) but let’s try to give a reason why rather than simply saying because neighborhood x, y or z is awesome.

Personally I would love to see one on Upshur St, NW near Domku and Corehaus by Georgia Ave. It is not too far from the metro but is a bit off the beaten path and has a very chill neighborhood vibe. Since Domku is more of a restaurant and there are no other chill bars nearby (Hitching Post would be the closest 7 blocks away) it would fill a significant void. That’s my personal choice but like I said, I’m biased as I don’t live too far away.

Now if I were to answer that question as simply a neighborhood blogger and not a resident – I’d think Hill East would also be very popular. Hill East already has Trusty’s which is kinda like what you describe but I think they could support another chill place on Pennsylvania Ave, SE a bit closer to the Eastern Market metro. Similarly, I think Bloomingdale would eat one up and has a strong neighborhood feel but keep in mind there are few new places already slated to open up there (ie Boundary Stone.) For that reason you might have better luck in the neighboring Truxton Circle neighborhood which is a Saloon desert. I also think one in the Mt. Vernon Square neighborhood would be wildly successful given the lack of chill options besides The Passenger.

I imagine a Chicago style Saloon on a corner a bit separated from other bars.

What neighborhood (and specific street if you can think of one) do you think would best support a Chicago style Saloon and most importantly – why would it?

179 Comment

  • Although I’m not really sure what a Chicago style saloon is, I wholeheartedly second PoP’s suggestion of pusher near Georgia. It’s a quaint little street, Petworthians need more options for the drink, and think a capital bikeshare may be going in there, so, along with the numerous buses that run up there, it should be very accessible (but still tucked away).

    • By pusher, I meant Upshur. Damn you autocorrect

    • I totally agree. I live much further south on U Street, but I love the neighborhood vibe of Petworth and something like this would be a great addition to either Upshur or that stretch of Georgia just south of the metro. I do travel up there a good amount and would do so even more if something like this opened up.

  • I still think Bloomingdale! We’re about to get a lot of new housing in the next year!

    • I’ll second this as a Bloomingdale resident. The intersection of 1st and Rhode Island is quickly becoming a very good spot where you can amble down after work and run into neighbors shopping at Windows, picking up their cleaning, or sitting on the patio at Rustik. The block that runs south from there to Seaton St still has vacant storefront space that would fit perfectly for this. Even with Boundary Stone and the potential wine bar that has been discussed, I would think another small establishment would do just fine.

      • +1 for Bloomingdale and that empty storefront on Seaton and 1st. I’d love to have multiple options within walking distance.

        • nothing will ever happen in that space.

          • Is the landlord that whacked out? Pricing that crazy? I’m curious what your thought process is, not having any direct knowledge of the situation other than the building appears to be in pretty decent shape and the location is great.

          • anon,
            yes, the landlords are whacked and crazy. and don’t agree with each other. it’s a huge mess.

      • bloomingdale doesn’t need another neighborhood bar. it has rustik, big bear, and will soon have boundary stone.

        it needs a restaurant.

    • how is bloomingdale about to get a lot of new housing? theres the flatiron building. then what?

      • There is a lot going into Eckington, which is a short walk away.

        • yes, i knew ab out the new things in eckington, but the poster said bloomingdale. currently eckington needs a bar more than bloomingdale.
          there are two markets that would be perfect. the one on lincoln, and the one on summit.

      • There are a lot of vacant/abandoned houses in Bloomingdale soon. I can count 4 within a stones throw from my house. In addition, there are many homes being renovated which will mean homes that were once vacant are not inhabited. And in further addition to that, some of these single family homes being renovated are being outfitted with in-law suites, which means even more inhabitants. And in even further addition to that, some of these large homes being renovated are being split into condos…which by now I think you get the point that that means even more inhabitants….

  • bfinpetworth

    I’m going to echo Upshur or Ga Ave in the vicinity. Some nice businesses have thrived there (Domku, Corehaus, El trogodorez) a real pld school AmeriCan bar would do very wel. AND make the neighborhood a more friendly space. And (as our curent President likes to say) – Let Me Be Clear- we want a community! Sory for the typos – the iPad don’t work so well sometimes.

  • Truxton Circle seems like the most obvious choice.

    I’d also like to see more East of the River – something near Minnesota and Benning?

    • Think about the NY Ave metro — but not in NoMa proper. The people who ride the redline home to Truxton, B’dale, and Eckington all at least get within spitting distance of N Cap, which is going to be the next noteworthy emerging “hip strip” — in 5 years’ time or less. It’s prob still cheap enough to buy there — big plus. Condo developments are planned near N Cap in Eckington, which would add to your customer base in a couple years.

      Take a walk around NoMa at noon and close to 5pm. Right now, some of the ATF and other office denizens hang out at Tynan for a couple brews. Tynan doesn’t serve dinner, however. Some of those folks would walk 1 or 2 blocks to N Cap above NY Ave, for happy hour specials and wings.

      The other advantage to that location is it’s proximity to Yale Steam Laundry/Yale apartments. As PoP mentions, they might want another bar option besides Busboys or Passenger.

      • You beat me too it. As a Bloomingdale resident I also believe we will have enough bars (we need a full scale restaurant). However just behind the fedex building the largest condo development in the city is in full scale construction.

        A good investment would be a “Chicago type Saloon” in Eckington on the north side of Flordia Ave NE or on N. Capitol (NE side). There are several large buildings that are underutilized next to the North Capitol Main Street office that would reap benefits of the neighborhood in need of a saloon.

        • How about between Florida and NY Ave on N Cap? Central/close to many ‘hoods, offices, metro, etc.

          • it’s not really a neighborhood bar if it’s close to offices, the metro and on a major road.

            not that north capitol doesn’t need a bar, but it won’t be just a neighborhood thing. it will be a destination place.

          • How would a bar that attracts a lot of local neighborhood folks not be a neighborhood bar — even if other people go there as well. But call it what you will.

      • I vote for TC. Earlier this year a store front near North Cap and Bates sold for in the mid 200s. Yes, it probably needed lots of work, but its so affordable relative to other places (B’dale, Noma, etc). Its an entepreneurers dream.

  • Check out the spot at 3rd and P in Truxton Circle. It’s been sitting empty for a year, but would be a great spot for a bar w/ patio. I’d also check out the ‘Majestic Cleaners’ building on R St btw NJ and 5th. You’d get a ton of foot traffic from folks headed to Bloomingdale and Truxton from the Metro.

    • That P Street building is great. Patio is great. Unsure why owner hasn’t let it yet. I mean, building itself is *perfect*. Add a bar and good to go. Definitely the most turn key option.

      • Problem is zoning. It is grandfathered in as a grocery that sells milk and bread. Now if someone can work around that or take a gamble with BZA and some of the teatotlers on that street, then yes, great spot.

        • That’s interesting–didn’t know about the zoning. Still a great spot though. Also worth looking at the place on 3rd and Florida.

        • Huh. Well I guess the question is whether it’s easier to deal with zoning issues vs. gutting/renovating another place. I’d guess the former is the cheaper option. Maybe open as a cafe with the prospect of adding taps later.

          I really think those loiterers will seek other climes soon as something opens there. They seem to hate eyes on them.

    • I’d love to see something at Majestic Cleaners, but the building at the corner of 7th & P with the corner facing doorway seems like a great fit for a neighborhood pub.

      • The red brick building at 9th and R.I. Ave comes to mind as well….

        • I second 9th and R.I. There also are a number of other bldgs in the vicinity that could use a new tenant. Plus, the ‘hood could use a neighborhood bar apart from the crowds on U St/14th St. (The O St. Market project will bring new potential customers as well.)

  • As an expat from NYC in Petworth I’m all for xenophobia, but what the hell is a “Chicago style bar”? One that serves egg-free quiche masquerading as pizza? I like the deep dish quiche from Chi-town, my Mom’s from there, but don’t call it pizza.

    Echoing statements that more drinking holes need to be near that Upshur area by Domku, or west of that and a little further north or south of Derby would be fine for a Des Moines, Albany, Buffalo, Cleveland, or a Chicago bar or just a cool bar that doesn’t need imaginary lines on a map to define itself. Provided it goes nowhere near L.A. for a theme.

    • saf

      “what the hell is a “Chicago style bar””

      Let me second this. How is “Chicago style” bar/pub any different than your general neighborhood place?

      Although I LOVE deep dish pizza, so that would make me happy.

  • Come to Mt Pleasant! Please!

    • Really? You already have several bars that fit the bill. And they aren’t always very busy.

    • There are 3 bars in the neighborhood and one is inside the other so I 3rd Mt. Pleasant…do it.

      • I don’t go to Mt. Pleasant very often, so I’m sure I’m missing something, but offhand, I can think of Marx Cafe, Tonic, and the Raven. All established neighborhood bars, by my accounting.

  • I am just curious if there are any folks from Chicago reading this, and if so, what bar already in existence in DC do they feel best represents the “Chicago Style Saloon”?

    Personally I don’t think any bar can call themselves a Chicago Style Saloon without three TVs over the bar and a Golden Tee machine in the corner. And can I get a Pizza Puff on a menu in this town? Please?

    • Jake’s Pub on Clark St across from the Duke of Perth. Pitchers of beer, don’t give a damn about food, a great juke box that works (or did when I left Chicago 8 years ago) and a pool table in the back. No TVs and no banners for the Cubs or any other sports team. Just. a. bar.

  • Same question here–what is a Chicago-style bar?

  • Somewhere very close to zee’s.

  • Maybe this person only knows Chicago, but I’m not sure it can stake claim to the quaint restaurant/saloon concept. That’s pretty universal. I prefer to give Sydney credit for it. Rather than DC, which concentrates its bars on strips, in Sydney you have a quiet residential area with a restaurant / saloon tucked into a corner where everybody in the neighborhood goes. I’d like to see more of that here.

    • A little closer to home you can find watering holes in almost every neighborhood in Baltimore.

      • That’s exactly what I thought when I read PoP’s post.

      • That is exactly what this city is lacking…Baltimore has neighborhood dives all over the place gives the neighborhoods a lot of character!

        • dc used to have these too.

        • Maybe we’re thinking of different Baltimore dive bars… but the one’s I’ve been to are horrible. I think a laid back neighborhood bar is a totally different concept.

          Perhaps I just don’t appreciate Baltimore’s “charm” 🙂

        • If DC’s rent was as cheap as Baltimore’s (not including the harbor or Fell’s Point) then you’d see a lot more dive bars and other small businesses within the neighborhood.

    • +1. I don’t think “Chicago Style Saloon” is a thing.

  • Chicago transplant here – I don’t think what the OP is describing is unique to Chicago, necessarily. Similar to what Bourne described, but they’re in every neighborhood, they’re a few blocks removed from any other commercial establishment, and they’re dives. If you’ve been to South Baltimore, think of the corner watering holes there. Locals watching the game on TV, cigarette vending machine by the door, “package goods” for sale, Christmas lights along the bar year-round, etc.

    Closest vibe I can think of in DC would be Trusty’s or the Pug, but both are located on main commercial strips. Put a place like that on a random corner like, say, 15th & C SE in Hill East, and you’ve got it.

    Also, GMH, it is indeed pizza. And it’s spectacular.

    • I should have said they’re *often* dives, but they certainly don’t have to be. I doubt the OP’s business plan is to aim low. Just stick an unpretentious place that doesn’t serve small plates in a residential area and you’ve got it. The Hitching Post location, perhaps?

    • These kinds of places aren’t just in South Baltimore. They’re all over Baltimore. They’re open at 8am and there are people in hair nets drinking there at 8am because they work the night shift at the H&S Bakery. Cheap beer, racks of chips behind the bar, a pool table, an old timey jukebox, and video poker. Personally, I’d much rather have them drinking inside than on the curb, but apparently the ANCs feel differently.

    • DC, in my understanding, isn’t really zoned for bars in the middles of neighborhoods. Damn temperence movement.

    • Can we get CTK’s description somewhere along the metropolitin branch trail (mbt)please? There are several nice warehouses along the trail between Ekington to Catholic U. Some being used for art studio’s, Chocolate city brewery, city storage, etc. Some are vacant!!!

  • One more vote for Petworth, specifically on Upshur. I don’t love bars but I LOVE Trusty’s, and if we had a bar like that, my friends and I would go every weekend.

  • I’m guessing (especially after the discussion on the 11th Ave Tryst) that most ANCs would turn into major roadblocks to anyone trying to open a new corner bar in a completely residential block. It’ll be a “Chicago bar in spirit” but a “DC bar in practicality.”
    What would be cool is instead of the requisite Old Style sign out front the bar hung a DC Brau sign. Agree that Georgia and Upshur would be cool – and really solidify it as a great neighborhood.

  • andy

    Who needs it? Brookland.

    Of course, I want it up past Spring Road. But we do already have Red Derby.

    Or is the concept of this different from, say, Red Derby?

    • I’d say in practice it would be similar to the Red Derby. Personally, my childhood memories are of Dad taking me into Walbert’s on Howell Ave in Milwaukee (now there’s a city with corner bars everywhere), circa 1979, where the crusty bartender would make a Shirley Temple for me and I’d eat onion rings and play pinball while Dad had a quick beer. Go ahead, judge Dad for taking a kid into a bar, but I say that was Milwaukee in the 70’s.

    • I’d like Red Derby a *whole lot* more if they had beer on tap! So, I hope this concept is different at least in that respect.

      Add my vote to Upshur/Georgia area.

  • Meridian Hill area! There’s nothing around for blocks!

  • Check out the building at P and 3rd st. Great building, Transforming neighborhood thirsty for a spot to call it’s own. The market is definitely there.

    Also the brass knob space on the Unit block of Nst NW is up for lease … Very large space, one very cool building, and clos(ish) to NOMA but solidly in a neighborhood on a great street.

  • Another for Upshur, or even GA Ave near Fusion and Maroni’s. Things seems to be doing pretty well there. I still have a dream of an Irish bar there. Haven’t had a good Irish Breakfast in years.

  • Wow…this post almost brought tears to my eyes. The thought of a ‘Chicago-style bar’ is something that I would dream for in Brookland. But, besides the fact that I live in Brookland, let me explain.

    My family is from Chicago, have (helped) own bars in Chicago (yes, the local joints (see Kevil’s, my Grandparents wedding pic is still on the bar wall)…

    Now, why Brookland. Several reasons. First, like a good Chicago bar should be…you shouldn’t drive to it. Brookland provides the Red Line train, great bus service to/from H Street, Columbia Heights, Bloomingdale, Petworth, etc. Brookland is also very much becoming a neighborhood for young families and professionals. People who would love to go out for a beer after work or for a quick one or two in the evening, but because of work, kids, etc don’t want to trek all the way over to Columbia Heights or Chinatown. Brookland, and its group of younger professionals, new parents and recent grads, mix very well together and would be the perfect demographic for this type of joint.

    Lastly, Brookland is underserviced…and about to be more so. We have Colonel Brooks, but that is about to close for Development. We have the Brookland Cafe, but that only seats about 10 people. We have San Antonio Cafe (great, btw), but it’s a restaurant…not a great little pub.

    Brookland’s 12th Street would be ideal for this. It has the feel of a small, Chicago like neighborhood area where people shop on their way to/from Metro/work in the morning. It has some draw from Catholic University. And, Brookland is about to start breaking ground on several new development projects that will bring greater density…which means the time is right.

    Ok, that’s enough for now. But, please, please, do seriously consider Brookland. Visit the Brookland Neighborhood Civic Association to get them to help you (http://www.brooklandcivic.org/)

    • Colonel Brooks is definitely as close (in theory) to a humble Chicago neighborhood spot that I can think of in DC. Shame it’s about to go.

  • I know that there was a place advertised for rent on Uphsur street for about $1800/month not too long ago. Fairly inexpensive rent for DC. If it is still available I bet you could negotiate.

    I would be there regularly….. if the food was decent and drink prices reasonable (or at the very least you threw in a buy back or 2 for regulars.)

  • Seems to me that the Upshur and GA Ave fits the bill perfectly. A little walk from the metro, but not too far (7 min?), commercially zoned properties available, recent great-street scaping, some success stories nearby.

  • The SW Waterfront area would be ideal. There’s a large number of residents, plus several government office buildings closer to the Mall, and almost no restaurants to speak of in the neighborhood, and no bars at all. I suspect an unpretentious neighborhood pub there would do a thriving business with zero competition.

    • +1

      I’m in Hill East and I love my Trusty’s, but I have friends who live in SW Waterfront who always have to trek elsewhere for something like that. They’re dying for a neighborhood bar, and no, Cantina Marina and their overpriced, crappy food doesn’t count.

    • agreed. Station 4 is opening soon and I expect it is going to be PACKED. There’s a lot of unmet demand for places to just have dinner or a drink (especially in the winter when Cantina Marina is closed). With that said, there also aren’t a lot of retail locations available, except right next to Subway and the cleaners down the block from Station 4. So I’d go with the Navy Yard–there’s a place on M St. SE that’s for rent as a restaurant. It’s kind of new looking, not old-fashioned like a saloon, but it could work. Yards Park and the DOT would bring folks when it’s not a baseball game night. Justin’s has been really crowded each time I’ve gone, so I think there’s untapped demand in the neighborhood.

  • 9th and Rhode Island NW a natural choice…9th Street is booming and will continue w/ City Market at O Street actually happening now. Great potential..

    • +1 It’s nice to be close to 14th Street and P, but there are no “neighborhood-y” bars in the area. Can’t exactly grab a pint at Churchkey.

      • The Playbill is a great neighborhoody bar! Very friendly people and the food is delicious.

        • if someone is not happy with the neighborhood bars within spitting distance of 14th and p, they will not be happy with anything.

      • 14th and P is probably the most well-served by neighborhood bars neighborhood in the city.

      • what about veranda? that has a neighborhoody feel. sh!te food but cozy in the winter and patio seating for the summer. Be careful in the Logan Circle area…they’ll stove yer heid in for a yoga mat down there.

      • I drop in at Churchkey all the time – for me it’s the perfect bar for a pint or two. Though on weekend nights it’s insanely busy.

        • The only time I have found it quiet is Sundays. And always being treated as a “first timer” by the staff, not to mention their reluctance to switch out many of the same beers that have been on tap for months make it not worth my while. Churchkey is just too big for it to be a nice neighborhood bar where “everybody knows your name.”

      • Stoney’s is pretty close to this idea too.

        • old stoney’s was perfect. now it’s all clean, crowded, and they accept credit cards. lame.

    • +2 Please please please someone do something with the big old “le slum historique” building on the corner of 9th and Rhode Island (stretching to P). Far enough away from U Street and Logan to be a standalone neighborhood bar, lots of new people in the neighborhood, and more to come once O Street Market development hits.

    • I totally agree. It is also central to so many of the other neighborhoods mentioned on here – U Street, Logan, Bloomingdale, etc.

    • I completely agree. There is a huge hole between Passenger at 7th L Street and Nellies at 9th and U Street for a neighborhood bar.

      Many of the food places are cafes that close around 7pm and don’t serve alcohol. Old Dominion at 9th and M (which is still 4 blocks away) is really more focused at Convention goers. Courderoy is upscale- not a place to pop into wearing jeans. Queen of Sheeba and Cafe Eagle are focused specifically on Ethiopian food, which is great when you are in the mood but a specific taste.

      This area gets tons of foot traffic and 9th and Rhode Island would be perfect because you would capture people in a radius from U Street, Shaw, Mt. Vernon Sq. and Logan Circle, Letroit Park, and Bloomingdale as an easy walk.

      O Street Market is going in as well as Progression Place, and Howard Theater so the area is really hot.

    • it’s actually happening? really? Have you walked/driven by it recently?

      i say put a neighborhood bar in that building on 9/O, it’s obviously zoned (or was) for some sort of restaurant. And it’s across from Azi’s and the oh-so-soon-to-be O Street Market.

  • places that are seriously lacking in a good neighborhood bar:
    lincoln park
    fort totten

  • Agree on Upshur/Georgia. Really, that whole stretch between Upshur and Missouri could use SOMETHING. There are several places right near the metro, but nothing of note north of there.

  • I know it would never happen b/c it’s not densely populated enough but I’d love to see someone move into the VIP lounge at 3rd and Rittenhouse in Brightwood/Manor Park across from Peaches.

  • The Florida Avenue Market (AKA Capital City Market) would be a great fit. Right across Florida from Near Northeast, adjacent to Gallaudet, and just a couple blocks from the office buildings and new apartments in NoMa. There are no cool bars, and few eating options, in this area until you hit the H Street bars 10 blocks away. But the area is booming with new (and old) residents who could use a cool hangout. In the evenings there’s tons of parking, and the Metro is just a couple blocks away.

    Most of the storefronts are also in cool old historic warehouse buildings. J Street is the major developer who owns many of the key corner buildings, including many cool ones like the NW corner of 5th and Florida, which is across from a small nightclub and less than a block from the excellent deli A. Litteri’s. There is also a huge variety in the size and condition of the retail spaces so there should be some flexibility to fit whatever the bar’s needs are.

    The chairman of J Street is Bruce Baschuk, and his email is bbaschuk AT jstreetcompanies.com. They’re a big company, but he’s a good guy, and very involved in the neighborhood.

  • I’m another vote for Upshur off Georgia. It’s zoned for business, but still sleepy/slow enough to maintain a neighborhood feel. It’s juuust far enough away from Looking Glass to be the preferred spot for people who don’t want to trek down the hill. And there are other neighborhood draws in the vicinity that are NOT bars that can pull in foot traffic–Yes! Market, Farmer’s Market, soon-to-be-updated Safeway.

    That block is made to be the commercial microstrip where you run into your neighbors at the bakery, the cleaners, the flower shop, the watering hole. Further east on Upshur toward Rock Creek Church could fit the bill, but I’m thinking about the spill over that happens on Friday evenings when people are finished at the farmer’s market but don’t want to go home. And don’t want to go to Domku.

  • Upshur and GA please! Petworth is loverly!

    • +1

  • Chicago Saloons are so much better in New York.

  • Honestly a neighborhood bar would fit in and fill a void anywhere in the city besides U St, Dupont, Logan, Adams Morgan, H St, and Cap Hill. Good luck getting past zoning and the ANCs, though.

  • Even though there are a lot of new bars in the area, I think 14th around Spring would be good as well. The area has sooo much growth, and the new bars around the metro are pretty overpriced, and aren’t that great. I can’t imagine a new bar doing poorly in the area. Now that the Raven in Mt. Pleasant is pretty congested, I would really like to see a good neighboorhood bar, especially in the CH/Petworth area. Also, the bars on 11th street are either chock-full of people/hipsters, or overpriced (meridian pint). Additionally, it would be cool to have some place that’s in between drinking dusty canned beer at Red Derby and having to pay $5 for a bud light…

    • Exactly.

      16th Street Heights is sorely lacking in decent nightlife options. On 14th St, closer to Spring, you see a lot of businesses that cater to the Latino crowd. Moving up, there’s the Red Derby, which wouldn’t necessarily be a competitor because its crowd is so resolutely hipster-looking-for-cheap-beer.

      Keep going up, you hit a serious dry spell until Highlands Cafe.

      I assume the zoning doesn’t permit it, but if they were able to edge closer to 16th, they would become accessible to residents of Crestwood, a really beautiful neighborhood, and the nicer homes going up 16th towards Brightwood.

      Development plans for this area surely mean that the proposed neighborhood bar concept could get in early and establish itself as the area builds up around it.

      • BTW, there’s a neighborhood nomenclature issue, but the post below this one refers to upper Columbia Heights — this is the same area I’m talking about.

  • Upper Columbia Heights to service CH and Petworth. It’s an expanding strip that’s only attracting more neigborhood-sized and own retail, restaurants and bars. I think specifically this building http://www.princeofpetworth.com/2011/04/dear-popville-has-el-salvadoreno-closed/

  • Navy Yard! I would love to have more than one bar in the neighborhood and the seats at Justin’s are always full – baseball game or not.

    • In all seriousness, what is the one bar of which you speak? Other than the bar in the Courtyard Marriott down there?

      • S/he’s probably talking about Justin’s Cafe. It’s pretty good, but often so crowded that the service is slow. I also wish it were cheaper (can the new place have like a $3 menu of snacks? They don’t have to be fancy–I’m talking like mozzerella sticks).

  • We already have one – Billy Goat’s Tavern

  • Agreed, for all of the same reasons. A place for a relaxed drink and snack would be a huge draw for that block. Plenty of foot traffic comes through to the other businesses nearby (and the Farmers Market). As one who lives around the corner know I’d hit up a chill neighborhood bar like this all of the time. And I think most of the other dozen and a half young-ish, bar-going neighbors on my block would feel the same way.

  • I’m surprised no one has mentioned the problem opening up a true “neighborhood bar” in this city without having to get past the ANCs, most of whom are dead set against anything like that in their neighborhood, unless it’s on a “main” strip. And even then, they bitch and complain about it (see Barrick’s Row).

    It’s a deadly alliance between the uptight NIMBY’s who think that a city should be as quiet as the suburb from which they came, or the old school people in the neighborhood who (sometimes justifiably) don’t want to see a return of liquor stores, etc to every corner, and all of the associated problems. The problem for the rest of us, is that these folks seem to disregard reason and have a zero tolerance policy for anything like it.

    • The objection is the type of people who would frequent such a bar in DC. They leave their cigarette butts all over the place, they talk too loud too late at night on the street and they park all over the place instead of taking a cab.

    • I did – especially with the discussion the other day about the new Tryst on 11th.

      My thoughts though are why does it always seem that the first new business in a redeveloping neighborhood in DC is always a bar. Is that the best strategy? Perhaps because of DC culture a coffee shop/cafe/bakery wouldn’t work because everyone works 9-5, or that the universities in the city don’t have a college town atmosphere in their immidiate vicinity.

      That is why I like Ga & Upshur – as it would compliment a quiet and slowly developing off main street commercial district.

      • Why bars? Because they are super-profitable if executed correctly. Your merchandise is non-perishable, and the demand for it is near constant, provided the prices are right.

  • I like the idea of Upshur and Georgia. That block where Domku is has a ton of potential. A place like the Red Derby would do great on that block. It’s pretty close to the metro and the popularity of Domku would help too. I also like the idea of taking over the Hitching Post if you are willing to open further from the metro.


  • I usually hate “hey DC sucks why can’t it be more like…” statements, but I kind of understand and agree with this one. If you’ve spent a lot of time in Chicago’s residential neighborhoods like Lincoln Park, Lakeview, Roscoe Village, Southport – then you kind of get it. Corner pubs/bars/saloons (whatever you want to call them) that are NOT part of “entertainment districts”, but stand alone spots that serve locals – not destinations for people looking for an Adams Morgan/U St/H St night out. To me it all boils down to how turbulent DC was in the 20th Century, losing a lot of population and neighborhood consistency. With that you lose community bars. That and the churches gained way too much power as a lobby. But those things are slowly but surely changing – the “Chicago style taverns” are blossoming.

    • Lincoln Park? Lol.

      Dude, neighborhood bars are an anachronism that I suggest not bring back. The days of neighborhood chums spending all their non-working, waking hours inside some dank, dark bar trying to bury whatever memories and numb whatever pain are not really something that we should consciously try to replicate in many places. It’s really a blue collar, happenstance thing. Here’s a neighborhood, here’s a no-frills bar. And even then, it’s not as white trash chic as people think. Maybe too many people watched Cheers growing up?

      Besides, DC has better weather than Chicago. So, if a “Chicago style” bar were instead an awesome DC bar with nice patio space, now, that’s something to desire.

      Just my two cents!

  • Another vote for Upshur & Georgia Ave. near Domku! There’s actually a nice looking corner storefront on the northeast corner of Upshur & 9th (I think).

    Walkable from the Metro and also walkable from the neighborhoods to the north. A neighborhood spot would do really well there. Plus, as someone mentioned, we should be getting the new bike station which will increase foot traffic.

  • ECKINGTON!!!!!

    Fourth and RI has so much great saloon store front. Near the metro. Near buses. Totally underserved neighborhood.

  • Those of us drinking at The Pug and Jimmy Valenines laugh at your desire for a neighborhood pub.

  • We’ve got enough places on the hill like Trusty’s, Jimmy V’s, the Argonaut and Red and the Black. They all serve about the same demographic with about the same economics. They all degenerate to the same level of obnoxious 20 year olds and those still acting like 20 year olds. They’re mostly pretty filthy and every drink comes with a pretentious hipster bar keeper tax. The places I’ve been to in Chicago are clean and come with a fairly welcoming staff.

    What DC needs is an older person’s bar –minus the baby strollers. The downside is the demographic that would frequent such a place is small in DC. When they do exist, they’re out working, taking care of their families and doing adult responsibility things. It’s a losing economic proposition, which is why every bar eventually succumbs to the 20 year old hipster paradise model.

  • What is a “hipster bar keeper tax”?

  • 7th and Q – southeast corner…perfect building for a TRUE neighborhood bar…

    Funny how people’s definitions differ on what seems to be a fairly straighforward concept…

  • The old El Limineo spot on Upshur would be good, though there maybe too many nasty folks around there right now. I never cease to be amazed by the woman who wanders out in to traffic at Rock Creek Church and Upshur to beg.

  • +1000 on Upshur! I’ve been thinking for a while that that row needs a great neighborhood pub.

  • Corner of 9th and S St. where that stupid vacant building with the checkers club sits.

  • I vote for Upshur/Georgia too! I’d love to have a bar like that to drop in for a few with the neighbors and friends!

  • I’m going to get hammered for saying this, but Wonderland is probably the closest thing to a Chicago-style neighborhood bar in DC–based purely on how it sits in the fabric of the neighborhood. There are a hundred little corner stores and dry cleaning joints on Hill East that would make great bars, but you’d never be able to get them permitted.

  • Over 125 posts and still no meaningful definition of a “Chicago style saloon.”
    A “neighborhood” bar? Not sure what that is either. Technically, any bar in a given neighborhood is a neighborhood bar.
    The kind of bar that only locals go to? Which locals are we talking about – the new locals or the old locals?
    The kind of place where people start drinking at 8 AM? Well, I guess that marginally better than drinking a 40-ounce on the corner.

    The OP should have just asked where to open his or her new bar.

  • Neighborhood bars are an anachronism that I suggest we not bring back. The days of neighborhood chums spending all their non-working, waking hours inside some dank, dark bar trying to bury whatever memories and numb whatever pain are not really something that we should consciously try to replicate in many places. It’s really a blue collar, happenstance thing. Here’s a neighborhood, here’s a no-frills bar. And even then, it’s not as white trash chic as people think. Maybe too many people watched Cheers growing up?

    Besides, DC has better weather than Chicago. So, if a “Chicago style” bar were instead a bar that strives for great outdoor/patio space, now, that’s something to desire.

    Just my two cents!

    • I’m also a Chicago transplant. What makes a Chicago-style bar is the fact that it’s in Chicago, nothing else. No point in making D.C. something that it’s not.

  • So something like Dietle’s in Rockville/White Flint/Bethesdaish? Not really tucked into a neighborhood, but it’s a true dive.

  • New Jersey and Q … there are two buildings for lease next to the little market there. Would probably be best for a cafe/bar considering all the morning and evening commuting traffic via bike and car. Would preferably see something like this: http://www.lookmumnohands.com/

  • Brookland! Please Brookland, because we have NO options at the present of the quality that I cannot make at home. Check out that Rhode Island Avenue development currently under construction and ready to sign leases. YOU WILL MAKE A KILLING. Seriously check it out.

    • Or the 12th Street corridor in Brookland as someone above stated. Anywhere in Brookland really.

  • I would like to see a nice neighborhood bar on the stretch of 14th St. between Webster and Decatur near the bus depot. There are alot of folks there that would definitely patronize the place.

  • EVERY neighborhood in DC needs these (corner taverns, Chicago is just one example). That is one of my biggest issues with this town. OK, obviously not THE biggest, but something that we lack for the most part. And I totally disagree with the poster above who indicated that these corner bars are anachromisms and suitable only for “blue collar chums”. Go to Chicago (or Baltimore or Philly or any other major city where they abound) and you’ll see lots of suits and ties unwinding after work, and even *gasp!* parents (with their CHILDREN! NOOOOO!!!!) hanging out with their neighbors. If we had more places like this I would guarantee there would be less class-based neighborhood strife in this town. Except for the part where the snobby newcomers wouldn’t deign to enter a “blue collar” establishment and the long time resident churchies wouldn’t be caught dead in a den of sin. So, yeah, maybe that wouldn’t work 😉

  • My vote:


    Unfortunately this was recently bought and converted into a private residence. 🙁

  • upshur just doesn’t have enough of the right foot traffic to support a bar. there is a reason why all the bars in the area are opening up just south of the metro. the area is getting denser, and with the type of people that will go to bars like this. plus it doesn’t seem quite as “up there” to the typical dupont/u-street/shaw yuppie.

    • There *are* bars opening up just south of the metro — that’s good. That also means there’s room for one further north, near Upshur. A neighborhood bar would, by definition, serve the neighbors, so it wouldn’t matter what typical dupont/u-street residents might think about its proximity. There is foot traffic there too but I don’t know what ‘type’ it is.

      • a bar in petworth isn’t going to be prosperous just by serving neighbors. the neighborhood has relatively low density and low household incomes. bars like red derby rely on neighborhood regulars, but it has become really popular as it has started pulling in patrons from surrounding neighborhoods and beyond.

        • I’m not so sure. First of all, there are a number of viable businesses in the area, and there seem to be more on the way. Second, I see a LOT of new faces in the neighborhood these days, and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least for them to gather, on occasion, at a local watering hole. They already do so at places like El Torogoz and Domku. Third, there are large apartments/condos currently being built of planned along Georgia Ave., just north of the metro, so there will be even more foot traffic to come. Within a block of my house, there are currently three houses being renovated and converted into condos, rather than single-family homes. I don’t know if that’s a sustainable practice on the part of developers, but it has opened my eyes to the growing popularity of the neighborhood.

  • I see a lot of people mentioning the Upshur/Georgia area.

    Personally, I’d love to see a bar closer to the Georgia Ave.-Petworth Metro station… maybe in the section of Georgia just south of the Metro, adjoining Park View.

    Or even if it’s north of the Metro, a little closer to the Metro than Upshur is.

    • Well, we already have the Looking Glass, Blue Banana, and another bar going in next door, all just south of the metro. Just north of the metro, the new “Marvin” is supposed to go in eventually.

      Yes, locals go (or will go) to those bars, but those bars also attract folks from other neighborhoods. As a Petworthian who happens to live near Upshur, I, for one, would prefer to mingle with my neighbors in a low-key atmosphere closer to home. And, yes, I would go there a lot.

  • The ANC in Bloomingdale does not want a bar unfortunately..

    • That’s not true. Read the Bloomingdale blog. They fully support the new bar coming in on N Cap, and would be happy for other (alcohol serving) restaurant businesses as well.

    • Where do you get your bad info? from some halfbrained letter written by a “restauranteur” who seems to be in the process of ruining 2 projects simultaneously? Hell of a source.

  • 100% support something like this just north of the GA Ave metro!…either on Georgia or on Upshur as others have suggested. There are so many people living in close proximity to this location that happily embrace such an establishment. If I had the money, I’d do it. In long run, a great investment area!

  • I vote for GA Ave near Fusion and Maroni Brother’s or Upsher.

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