Eating Around Town – Boundary Stone

116 Rhode Island Avenue, NW

This edition of Eating Around Town was written by Abbey Becker. Abbey previously wrote about Stachowski’s Market and she lives near Eastern Market.

Boundary Stone Public House (116 Rhode Island Avenue NW) is everything I imagine a neighborhood bar should be. Living on Capitol Hill, we’ve got Tune Inn, but then you’re mostly relegated to ordering a burger or something fried. Tunicliff’s fills the “local bar” slot perfectly–I’ve seen people of all ages, cops, and firefighters there at all hours of the day–but the food isn’t anything to write home about.

If you’re going on a weekend night, good luck getting a spot to sit. It’s great that it’s doing so well, but if you plan to eat, be ready to hover (at a distance, of course) and slip into a seat just as the last person gets up. Those that aren’t inclined to wait long may want to try brunch on the weekend or a weekday dinner. Even if you can’t sit right away, you can sip a beer or whiskey near the bar until something frees up.

Speaking of drinking, you can do it well at Boundary Stone. The whiskey, bourbon, rye, and scotch lists seem pretty extensive. (I’m a gin drinker, so I’m just making an assumption based on what others have told me.) There are always a couple of local beers on tap, and there’s a good selection of cans. If you’re there for weekend brunch, they’ve got $12 bottomless Bloody Marys or mimosas, and when I went last weekend, the bartender was quick about refilling an empty glass.

Continues after the jump.

It’s clear that the owners didn’t drop the ball when it came to the menu. The main menu stays the same, but I love that there are at least ten specials every day. When I went on Sunday, I had a tough time deciding between Welsh rarebit, a short rib sandwich with roasted peppers and fontina, steak frites, lettuce wraps, and tomato fennel soup.

I ended up with the 13th Street Meats chorizo, over easy egg, Chihuahua cheese, and roasted tomatillo salsa breakfast sandwich on a buttery sesame bun, which came with a side of home fries. The chorizo was spicy and porky, egg was perfectly custardy and runny, and the tomatillo salsa gave the sandwich a zingy freshness. Awesomely messy. The home fries were pretty great, though a few of the bigger potato cubes were a little bit undercooked.

If you don’t like beets, get the Bleu Burger. As much as I want to like them, they usually taste like dirt to me–except on this burger. The pickled beets lend an earthiness that’s tempered by the blue cheese and balsamic caramelized onions, so that it’s more about a hint of flavor and a unique texture than the overpowering and disgusting taste of the red devils. If I have to eat beets, I’m ordering this burger.

The arancini are made with “seasonal vegetables,” so they change often. On Sunday, the “vegetable” was roast beef and crème fraiche. As a carnivore, I love this. I’ve also seen butternut squash, though. The bruschetta are incredibly light and perfectly toasted, and last week, the toasts were topped with a whipped ricotta and artichoke mixture, then drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with micro greens.

I am a big fan of buffalo wings, and I’m disappointed in most of the wings I’ve had here in DC. When I saw that Boundary Stone’s menu had honey hot wings, I did not have hope. I am a buffalo wing purist–nothing but Frank’s, in my opinion. But the honey actually mellows out the heat, allowing you to actually eat a wing and not blow out spicy air and gulp down half of your water. If you’re looking for a wing that’s more flavor than heat (but still has some of that, too), you’ve come to the right place.

Here is one thing that I don’t like about Boundary Stone: their homemade ketchup. I appreciate that they’re creative with their dishes and use fresh, local ingredients when they can. But their ketchup goes a bridge too far for me. When you expect the taste of Heinz and get the taste of slightly spiced tomato sauce…well, it’s not ketchup to me. Hey, if you like their version, that’s great, but I was glad to know that you can ask for Heinz on the side and they’ll bring it over.

That being said, Boundary Stone may be the best neighborhood bar in the city. Most people seem to know each other, and the bartenders are often chatting with regulars. This is the kind of place where no one’s going to judge you if you sit at the bar on a Sunday and drink bottomless mimosas all day, and that’s what I plan to do next weekend.

38 Comment

  • don’t tell everyone! it’s INDEED the best neighborhood bar in the city… just ask any of the neighbors 🙂

    you should guest bartend again!

  • I love the love for Boundary Stone! Ditto Anonymous — no doubt this is the best neighborhood bar in the city. Tough to beat all the good stuff they’ve got going… Friendliest owners and staff. Fantastic juke box. Amazing whiskey selection. Heavenly Irish coffee. And the wings are out of this world.

    So happy I’m within stumbling distance.

  • i’ve never had anything bad here. the bartenders/servers are fantastic and are great about telling you about new and different spirits to try.

    the food is better than most pubs, but i too avoid the ketchup and just ask for another sauce. ALL of their other sauces are great.

    downside: it’s too good and freaking everyone knows it.
    at least its open for lunch.

  • Phenomenal place that we’re proud to call our neighbors!

    On the ketchup note, I hear you. When they first opened I had the same reaction that I just wanted regular ketchup. Then about the third time I had it, I turned into a convert. Now, I LOVE it. I was in Korea for 2 weeks for work recently and craved a bleu burger upon my return and realized I wasn’t just craving the burger, I was craving the ketchup too. So don’t give up on the homemade condiment quite so quickly! 🙂

    Nice job on the extensive write-up Abbey.

  • food has definitely matured… a little pre-season salt on the fish before it gets fried (fish n chips) might be nice

  • Guys – these are all lies, dirty rotten lies. Nobody really likes this place short of a few locals who only come here for the convenience. Seriously, do yourself a favor and try the new up-and-coming Ri Ra Restaurant in Georgetown if you want the full townie experience rather than this yuppie trash.

  • Love the atmosphere, but I’ve always found their food a little bland. The burger and the pulled pork sandwich both failed to do it for me.

    • novadancer

      +1. I want to love the place but the food is definitely a miss (I actually don’t think it’s one of the better pubs with food either). I stick to drinks and the deviled eggs…

      • what do you consider pubs with better food?

        • novadancer

          I actually think shaw’s tavern has better items (yet another place where I don’t love the food). I expect at a minimum for the burger at a pub to be decent. But i’ve had rare burgers (always asked for well done), fish and chips have NO taste. Even my hubby who eats anything left his pretty much untouched.

          • i guess different tastes for different folks. i LOVE the fish and chips at boundary stone ( though i could use a better hot sauce)

            i like shaw’s tavern too.

            but i’m not a foodie, i go out for the company.

  • Matt the bartender is so hot right now.

  • The food has never blown me away either. And I love that the awful ketchup gets a shoutout.

    Besides being really crowded weekends, its a pretty nice spot, and not terribly overpriced with a real nice beer selection.

  • They have a big selection of whiskey, which is cool, but a pretty limited beer selection, which is not. The food is decent, but nothing to rave about. All in all, a good little bar, but not anything to get overly excited about.

    • Limited beer selection? When’s the last time you were there? Outside of dedicated beer bars like Meridian Pint, Churchkey or RFD, I think their selection is pretty awesome.

    • To be fair, do you like anything about Bloomingdale, though? “A good little bar” is actually high praise from you.

  • yup. the only terrible thing about Boundary Stone is the ketchup.

    best neighborhood bar!!!

  • Love love love this place as a drinking hole. Ryes are awesome. Cleanest taps around. I go there at least twice a week. That being said food needs inprovement. Aracini beet risotto balls have to go. DC Brau chicken sandwich has to go. Burger buns that cannot hold the burger have to go. And all things cauliflower need a rest. Everything else I have had has been great. Love Boundary Stone!

  • I absolutely love this place. Yummmm bread pudding…

  • I’m sorry but I just cannot respect your opinion after you called yourself a buffalo wing purest and then mentioned Frank’s Red Hot. Shameful

  • Boundary Stone swept the following awards last night from the Washington City Paper’s Best Of Poll: Best Bar, Best Neighborhood Bar, Best Place to Eat at the Bar, Best Wings and Best Jukebox.

    Just saying …

    • i’m so proud of these guys! the praise of this place couldn’t fall on more decent, kind, hardworking, honest people.

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