End of an Era – Asylum Being Absorbed by Smoke and Barrel in Adams Morgan

Well, they had a legendary 20 year run but last week brought the final drink at Asylum located downstairs at 2471 18th St, NW in Adams Morgan. Back in late Sept. ’11 the upstairs section of Asylum turned into a bbq joint with craft beer and bourbon called Smoke and Barrel (sister restaurant to Meridian Pint). [Ed. Note: Meridian Pint and Smoke and Barrel are PoP advertisers.] However the basement space remained Asylum. Owner John Andrade explained “all great things come to an end and with every end there are new beginnings.” He anticipates that the change downstairs will be gradual over a two week period. The downstairs will be renovated to match the decor upstairs. Like Meridian Pint, the upstairs will remain bar and dining focused while the downstairs will feature tv’s and games.

Anyone here remember Asylum from back in 1991?

59 Comment

  • This REALLY sucks, but Asylum hasn’t been the same since the upstairs changed over to Smoke Barrel a few months ago. I guess it’s just a sign of the times in Adams Morgan.

  • Many a long nights in that basement. Sigh…

  • Kalorini

    Once the old menu was gone, Asylum had already been absorbed. I’ve really only been there a few times since Smoke and Barrel arrived, and after the unapologetic, GOD AWFUL dining experience I had upstairs, I wasn’t looking forward to giving these owners my business anymore. Plus, once you install skee ball, you could stick a fork in Asylum.

    Anyone looking for good veg food should swing by Mellow Mushroom across the street. I just had the tofu half-sub last night and it was incredible.

  • Damn. As an Adams Morgan rezzie, I am disheartened to read this as I always wanted to check out their brunch — now I will never get that chance.

    • They still have brunch; regular & unmeated, and IMO it’s better thanks to the vegan BBQ (and I’m not even vegan). I’ve had mixed luck for dinner but brunch is still great there!

  • I’m definitely disappointed. I had really fond memories of Asylum, it was a unique place, and will be missed.

  • LisaT

    I KNEW it. That sucks and blows and stinks and everything else. This, combined with no Airing of the Grievances leaves precious few reasons to ever to go AM.

  • Truly the end of an era. From 50 cent pints of shiner bock/high life/natty light on Saturdays to having a porno filmed in its basement, Asylum was a strange place.

  • But…the vegan brunch!!!

  • This is really sad I have been going there for a long time. I guess I really have no reason to go to Adams Morgan anymore.

  • PDleftMtP

    Sad…but if I’m honest, I hadn’t been in years. At least S&B is somewhere I would actually go in the Jumbo Slice/puking suburbanite wasteland.

  • DC’s other classic punk establishments have had to change with the times, and though I loved that time in DC, it’s over. It’ll probably hit me more when Smash eventually closes.

  • They serve a vegan brunch upstairs, and I disagree — the service is wonderful and the food delightful — even better. I loved the old asylum, but there are still vegan pancakes, a tofu scramble, and, even better — vegan bbq eggrolls. Sad to see an institution go, but glad the place is still serving the vegan community.

    • +1 Totally agree. The service and food is amazing. Tons of tasty veg options. The decor, beer and bourbon list, and amazing BBQ sauce make this the standout spot in AM. It stinks that Asylum will be gone, but S&B is worth it.

    • LisaT

      They do still have some vegan brunch items, but not as many (or as desirable IMO) as Asylum.

  • noooooooooooooooooooo

    will the new place still have 50 cent beers on saturdays???

  • I guess Asylum is back in Exile

  • Let’s be real….Asylum hasn’t been the same since Boo left…nonetheless sad to see it go…but its tough to stay true to your roots when you are overrun by douche bags…it happened when Smash, Jinxproof and the likes were run outta Georgetown…now all thats left is Madam’s to hold onto the counterculture history in SadMo…it’s a shame

  • went there once for a Shiner Bock countdown, ended up at a gay biker party in Petworth, being hit on by an albino biker named angel who wore white denim. good times. never went back.

  • brookland_rez

    That sucks. I haven’t been since they remodeled the upstairs. I’ve spent many cold winter nights there getting drunk.

  • It was always a good place to go even Fri/Sat nights when the rest of Adams Morgan was insane. Most of the d-bags avoided it, never that crowded. Plus Sunday brunch and getting drunk at the bar all afternoon.

  • worst news ever. and smoke and barrel just does not compare. overpriced take over of a fabulous low-key establishment

  • I am really sick of the gimmicky-bar trend. Asylum is a good bar because it isn’t a gimmick. I always enjoy myself and feel at home amidst the raging frat bro/douche-bag party that is always going on outside and down the street. I mean, really, changing the interior to match the upstairs?! Barf. I happen to like how Asylum looks, thank you very much, because it has a character and a history to it. Ugh, I could go on and on about how much this pisses me off but its not like the owners are going to change their minds because of my rant. Farewell Asylum and thanks for the memories!

  • I only lived in DC for a year, and generally hated it. Half of that year I didn’t have a job, was broke, living in my good friend’s studio apartment a few blocks from Asylum. Buying him a nati light at Asylum was one of the few ways I could repay him, and going there always felt like a true escape from the bad time I was having. It lived up to its name. When life got better, I didn’t often go back, but after leaving DC, I always felt that Asylum was one of the few places I’d want to visit upon returning. Damn.

  • the end of progressive Sat HH starting with .25 steiner bocks. that is when assylum truly took the turn.

  • I live in Kalorama and didnt even know this place was there. Is everything on 18th street as bad as reef?

  • LMAO at the slams on Adams-Morgan being nothing more than Jumbo Slices and puking suburbanites. Seriously, have you ever visited the neighborhood at any time other than 1 AM on Saturday? Or are you just repeating the same line you’ve heard your friends say when they bash the neighborhood to make Columbia Heights seem cool?

    • +1! And although I won’t set foot on 18th street between Friday and Sunday, the rest of the week it’s still my neighborhood with the people I know and love.

      And how come nobody ever mentions Bedrock when they discuss Adams Morgan institutions with credibility? Or Pharmacy? Both totally unglamourous places that are wonderful places to drink with normal neighborhood folks…

    • people that trash adams morgan (either figuratively or literally) are precisely the same people you find in line waiting for jumbo–that’s all they see, it’s all they know.

  • I was at the original Asylum on 9th the night it opened.

    Holy crap. I’m old.

  • Been going to Asylum since 1994. Now that it is closed, I guess I can try and get a girlfriend. I just ask that the place continues to play punk, and they try and limit the amount of douche tards into the new place. I still plan on going and embarrassing myself though. Suckerrrrrzzzzz.

  • I used to go to punk shows at the old Asylum all the time in the 90’s. Miss those days.

  • I remember playing upstairs at the old Asylum with my band. And thinking while I was playing that I could have been home watching TV. Best part was getting hassled by scumbags while another woman and I were packing our stuff into our cars.

  • Asylum still exists!! It’s just a little harder to get there!

  • Most of the old Asylum folk now hang out at MiG Bar down the street. Very similar vibe to pre-Smoke and Barrell Asylum. It’s only drawback is it’s hard to find. I walked past it maybe a thousand times before I knew it was there (no sign, and it’s upstairs above Rendezvous Lounge).

  • I used to book hardcore matinee shows at the Original Asylum on 9th street in the early 90’s. I loved that Jim the owner was cool enough to let a bunch of rowdy hardcore kids – many under 21 – come into the venue….they didn’t make much money but did it to support the scene. I was first introduced to the wonderous joys of Ethiopian food there! Of course everyone knows that Boo ‘aka’ The Professor kept the place going along with Rebekah and host of other notables! I had the pleasure of visiting Asylum Roatan, Honduras a few years back….no douchebags and a much better view!

  • The first time I went to Asylum was on 9th street, afternoon show. I think I was 15 or 16- I used to love Asylum in Exile, and I remember seeing the Quincy Punx play a July 4th show there, although that could have been the original on 9th street, I can’t remember since I’m old! I had plenty of great nights drinking there, and did a little stint barbacking and serving upstairs tables on Saturdays several years ago.
    When the longtime crew started leaving I mostly quit going. Great bar for many years, I wish Jon the best in his next venture.

  • Just face it. Adams Morgan has turned into a septic dumphole for hipsters and the too-cool set. It’s a human zoo Thursday thru Saturday night with drunken knuckleheads roaming the streets. I worked at the Diner for 3+ years and finally couldn’t take it anymore. By 2007, Adams Morgan made me hate DC.

    I live in CA now.

  • I actually enjoyed the dive bar, Asylum for almost the entire run! From art work of my bod on the walls ((destroyed before official opening), to moving and polishing furniture, learning to shoot pool (“No, _____, you just don’t completely suck!” Go team SMP! Truly, though, hearing from others at 9th and 12th (and most assuredly 18th) street locations , slowly, but surely turned its back on those of the regulars that were their bread and butter who brought Asylum its success. Poor choices, bad decisions and bad manners after 20 years has brought this wonderfully ,almost always welcoming, cheery, and jovial meeting place to a non-social, uninviting “the bathrooms are broken”, don’t recognize a sole” emptiness. When it was good, it was fantastic, its bow out is sad, but, unfortunately, it is time. Start again from whence you came and I will be there with boots on!

  • This is the first time i have ever felt compelled to comment on this site. This is a travesty for so many reasons. Jason whatever his name is is a total ahole, I don’t care if this gets deleted the world needs to know the truth!!

  • Good riddance,place was a boring dump w/ bad music and full of intoxicated philistines.Not that 18th st has much else to offer but this place was about as counter-culture clueless as you could find.Just because your not yuppies doesn’t mean you have to be stupid and uninformed and soporific.

  • So sorry it’s closing. Back in 2006, I used to ride my motorcycle up there every Sunday morning from Arlington and have brunch with my buddy who lived nearby. I’d park right out front with no issues, go in and always find a seat by the window. There was one omelette that had my name on it but I forget the name. The heavyset waitress with piercings was fun too. Say no to boring gentrification!!!!

  • If there is no more naked photo hunt/ jukebox on the downstairs bar, then this place is dead to me. I don’t care that I get 5 United Airlines miles for every dollar I spend (yes Johnny, Im VIP in the dining program thanks to you. Jealous much?). Oh, but those espresso rubbed beef brisket tacos, ill admit, are really yummy. Had’em for breakfast. Way better than the 50cent crap they used to serve during happy hour.

  • Last Call for Asylum… Farewell To Goodtimes that Came and Went at this Landmark of DC’s Punk Rock scene. Very Nostalic to see it go all together but, it had already lost it’s magic years ago. From the old regulars fading away as the years came and went to the new faces that you wouldn’t recognize behind the bar.
    Farewell to a Bygone era that will be missed dearly by many. Thank You for the Years Asylum, Thank You!

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