79°Mostly Cloudy

Polly’s Cafe – Thumbs Up or Down?

by Prince Of Petworth September 22, 2008 at 2:00 pm 21 Comments


Polly’s Cafe is located at 1342 U Street and was one of the earliest establishments to open on the now super popular block. So I’m long over due in asking this question. I have friends who love this place and who absolutely hate it. I like it as a bar and I had a killer grilled cheese sandwich but I do find the food a bit pricey for what you get. I also ordered a captain and coke that I’m fairly certain was a formaldehyde and coke (although they were kind enough to redo the order for me). I do dig the vibe of the place, very small and chill. I only wish the outdoor area were a bit larger. So what do you think, thumbs up or down?

  • Anonymous

    I agree with your assessment. Great vibe- ridiculous prices. Food AND beer come to think of it.

  • Adams Morgan

    Back in ’96 when we had the giant snow storm and one snow plow for the whole city lots of places weren’t able to get deliveries and I remember going to Polly’s about four days after the storm and essentially they were like “look, this is all we’ve got so these are your options.” But at a time like that who cared? The fireplace was kicking, it was all friends from the neighborhood and no one was working.

    Things are different at Polly’s now (not necessarily good or bad, just different), but I’ll always have some totally great memories of that place.

  • fancypants

    I’ve always thought that this place deserves props for being one of the first places to go to U street before everybody else came. It’s a nice and cozy space, too. But truthfully, the prices are ridiculous, the food is mediocre, and the service is horrendous.

  • El Puma

    Ive never been but looking at the two dollar beer special yo como que ahora me voy a echar una pasadita por ahi!!!

    Cheers mates!!!

    El Puma

  • Anonymous

    Last time I was there I got a grilled cheese and the cheese wasn’t melted. All of the beer was flat and tasted disgusting. I agree that it used to be cool but the food has totally gone downhill.

  • Anonymous

    Thumbs down. I don’t believe this place accepts credit cards. What kind of bar/restaurant with high prices in such a busy area would only accept cash?

  • anonymous

    Haven’t been since 2000/2001, but I thought it was crap back then. And I am what you might call a “hipster” (so take my opinion with a grain of salt—either to bring out the flavor, or cover up the bad taste).

  • ET

    fancypants I feel that way about most places in DC. It never ceases to amaze me that for DC folk – outdoor seating seems to make up for ridiculous prices, mediocre food, and sub par/horrid service. The Hill’s version of Polly’s is Tunnicliff’s (at least to me).

  • I also fondly recall the Polly’s of the 90s (including in the 1996 snowstorm as mentioned above) but I gave up on Polly’s a few years ago (which is no longer owned by the original owners BTW). There are other choices now and we don’t have to put up with the prices and indifferent service.

    Thumbs down!

  • Anonymous

    Any retail business today that doesn’t accept credit cards typically has a cheap owner who doesn’t care about offering convenience to customers.

  • chachito

    THUMBS UP! i think their prices are just fine especially the bloody mary at brunch. their brunch is always my back pocket go to. also, i find the staff colorful, and thats a good thing in dc. it may not be the perky service you find at starbucks, but i’ll take these guys over much of the competition.

  • Started going to Polly’s when I moved here in March of 1996. By 1998, you would have to wait in line for 30 minutes to a half-hour just to get a table for brunch. Went in there this Sunday for the first time in a year… got my old brunch favorite: an omlet with homefries, a half-pitcher of Bloody Mary, and a cup of coffee.

    The Bloody Mary is still great. I would put it in the top 5 best for the city.

    The omlet and homefries are smaller and $3.50 more expensive, my coffee only got refilled once. It was nice not to have to wait in line for brunch, but I would have preferred that to the experience that I had.

    I’ll never give Polly’s a thumbs-down because I have too many good memories there. But, I don’t feel like giving it a thumbs-up today.

  • Ooops, I meant “Thirty minutes to an hour”

  • ColHeightsChic

    Thumbs down! I only went there once. Ordered a burger and asked for salad instead of fries. You’d think I asked the server to sacrifice her first born. And that burger and few bites of salad….. something like $12 or $13, if I recall. That is definitely nowhere near a cheap-eat. I wasn’t pleased. No, I certainly wasn’t pleased.

  • Irving Street

    I think Phil has it a little wrong. I was living at 13th and T in the early 90s and there was a line for brunch the first Sunday it was ever open (maybe it calmed down a little by ’96 — I had two small kids and didn’t brunch much). Pierre and Elizabeth (who also own(ed?) Coppi’s and the excellent but closed Vigorelli’s in Cleveland Park) were real pioneers. The city had only just repaved U Street, which had been an open trench for several years during subway construction, and it was the only place to get a beer for many blocks. I was in recently and pleased to see that it still retains its intimacy and funkiness and I had a fine pint which — since it was only one — didn’t seem expensive to me.

    Thumbs up.

  • AlphaTango

    I have to admit it’s been awhile, but I love Polly’s way back when. I love the atmosphere mostly. I have to give it a thumbs up. Yes it is a little pricey. But there aren’t too many places like it.

  • Morgan

    Up–this place is really good. On a cold winter day, the fire is awesome. I highly recommend. It has a nice little bar in back too.

  • Chris in Eckington

    Thumbs up. Like Morgan said, it’s especially inice n winter, when they have the fire going. It used to be THE place to go for lunch on U Street because there wasn’t anything else around.

  • anon

    Wait – nobody else tries to go get Saturday afternoon drinks there, like, once every 6months/ a year, only to discover that it STILL smells like urine?

  • Donkey Hotey

    ALWAYS smells like urine. Good happy hour deal for those of us who work on U street ($2 rail gin n tonics), but if you can’t get one of the 4 seats outside, the urine stench is unbearable.

  • Anonymous

    poor pollys, its on a long slow skid now more off days then on. maybe they will read some of the comments and step it up.


Subscribe to our mailing list