Friday Question of the Day – Favorite “Hidden” Restaurant/Bar in DC (Redux)

by Prince Of Petworth March 3, 2016 at 10:22 pm 94 Comments

1356 Okie Street, NE

In the Ivy City post earlier this week a few folks mentioned the Ivy City Smokehouse as a hidden gem and with word of the Scotch Bar closing I thought it was time revisit our favorite “hidden” restaurants/bars in DC. Are there any “hidden” spots still left? It’s funny to look back on our answers from 2008.

  • Near Northeaster

    Cafe Mozart is an oldie but a goodie. Still feels hidden in plain sight.

    • Kukki Bakemono

      I love Café Mozart (even with it being tarnished ever so slightly by taking a failed date there last year). The sign on the front of their sweets counter, “A Balanced Diet Is A Cookie In Each Hand” is basically my overall lifestyle philosophy.

    • Ally

      +1. Still feels small (in a good way). Hands-down my favorite date spot with the hubbie.

  • zartan

    Jimmy Valentines and Showtime.

    • Dadric

      I know that “hidden” is poorly defined for the purposes of this exercise but I can’t think of any way that Showtime would qualify.

      JV’s is a great shout though.

      • textdoc

        Heh, Jimmy Valentine’s is definitely hidden! (Or at least it was last time I went there, which was a while ago. I assume there’s still no signage?)

  • steve

    Izakaya Seki

    • emvee


    • Anonymous


    • Anonymous

      Really? It has a big picture window facing the street. Not hidden at all.

      • Jo

        Hidden on a side street.

  • Kukki Bakemono

    Café Mozart, Canales’ Deli in Eastern Market: South Hall (specifically for the pulled bbq chicken sandwich I’ve been getting for 7 years from the same women), and Harold Black.

    • Kukki Bakemono

      Does Bub and Pop’s still count as “hidden” even though it was on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives? If so, my vote goes to them for sandwich shop.

      • Anonymous

        I love B&P, but it’s not hidden at all. Especially when there’s a line down the sidewalk to get in. Hell, it’s next to a strip club!

    • Aglets

      I love their pulled port bbq sandwich so much. I remember it was such a treat to get the sandwich, a can of soda and a bag of chips for $3.50 back in the day.
      I miss those days.

  • Nerrrrrrrrd

    Laughing Man tavern on G st is great if you need to get out of the office and have a drink (or two) over lunch without being spotted by your coworkers.

    • kl00t

      …But is a terrible place to watch sports if they’re hosting a watch party for one of the college teams they “support” – I know they are the “official” bar for Duke and UCLA basketball, unless you’re rooting for one of those teams I wouldn’t recommend going there for those games.

  • dcd

    Not sure if this qualifies, but I’ve been going to Parkway Deli, just over the line in Silver Spring, for 20 years. Still see some of the same waitresses. The matzo balls have gotten a little smaller, but the soup is still just as good as it was then.

    • dcd

      Also, Stachowski’s in Georgetown for sandwiches

      • anon


    • SHHHHHH… Parkway Deli is crowded enough on weekends. Don’t tell more people about how awesome it is!!!

    • SS2DC

      Parkway is the only thing I miss about living in Silver Spring.
      those cakes…..

  • DCReggae

    Libertine in AdBro. Never crowded, chill bartenders, a wide variety of absinthe if you’re into that, solid playlist, and amazing mussels.

    • Philippe Lecheval

      Don’t call it “AdBro.” It’s not even clear whether or not you’re calling it that ironically.

    • OP Anon

      Libertine may be the chillest spot in Adams Morgan. Great drinks and they make a mean skirt steak.

  • bric

    MGM Roast Beef near Home Depot. Great sandwiches.

    • Nicky

      I love that place. The sandwiches will knock you out (both literally and figuratively), and the crowd is a neat mix of Gallaudet folks, NE workers, cops, and others.

      • Taylor streeter

        So they will punch you in the face and leave you unconscious? They will figuratively knock you out or you’d have a real problem on your hands and so would they.

    • Dadric

      Nice. Good to know that it’s solid. I’ve passed it a dozen times and always intended to stop and check it out, but never have.

    • anon

      another vote in favor of MGM! And their breakfast is really great and really inexpensive too! love this place!

    • Anonymous

      That place is awesome. The hand carved turkey is also great.

    • jumpingjack

      I’ve been wanting to try this place forever. Their hours make it hard for folks who have M-F 9-6 jobs and don’t live nearby – Saturday lunch is my only option and I keep forgetting. Thanks for reminding me!

    • M

      That was my vote! Love this place!!!! And they added salads to go with their killer fries.

  • K

    My favorite hidden(ish) gems are: MGM Roast Beef, Cafe Mozart, Thai Orchid (in the Twinning/ Fairlawn area), Capitol Hill Crabs (anacostia), and Mama’s Kitchen (Anacostia).

    • K

      Also, Tony’s Breakfast on H st. It is totally not a hidden but it gets overlooked for the trendy breakfast options on H st.

  • jim_ed

    Deli City on Bladensburg since its tucked into an industrial part of town and has the best Reuben, El Sol in Columbia Heights, since it has the best tacos in town and a surprisngly good brunch deal but is nearly indistinguishable from the dozen subpar Mexadorean places around it, and Highlands in 16th St Heights for being a great casual place for a good breakfast.
    Bars on the otherhand? Since its super trendy to be intentionally hidden at this point, I’m not sure any qualify. Maybe Stan’s downtown for a great place to get recklessly drunk after a hard day at work?

    • MsSunshine

      And Post Pub!

    • MtP

      Have you tried Tacqueria Habenero just up the street from El Sol? Honestly, I like it even better. The tortillas really make the tacos there. And it is an authentic Mexican place too.

      • andy

        Habanero really is the best and we are there 3-4 times a month, but people really should get to El Sol more, especially on the weekend. Their brunch is really great – if you want full-on (American-style) Mexican food made well, El Sol is really great.

        Ah, how nice it is to live in my neighborhood!

      • jim_ed

        I’ve had Habanero and I think it’s good, but I think overall El Sol has better tacos, and since they’re so close we always end up at El Sol instead.

    • Anonymous

      I’ve always wondered about Deli City. Every time I’ve driven by, they’ve been closed. I think they keep odd hours (M-F only, 6am-3pm or something like that). Is it that good?

      • jim_ed

        Yeah the hours are focused on the workers at the WMATA yard and old timers who hold shop inside, and it’s cash only. But the pastrami and corned beef are superb. The meat is super juicy and it soaks into the rye and it’s incredible. Give me their Grill Reuben over DGS any day.

    • timmyp

      Highlands is the balls. They actually open early enough to eat breakfast not brunch and it couldn’t be less pretentious. Great call.

  • Dadric

    Tough to tell what qualifies as “hidden,” but Dew Drop Inn and Church & State are great and neither has been especially busy when I’ve been there. I feel like both are reasonable well-know though, so I don’t really know.

    Good to see Ivy City Smokehouse get a shout-out though.

    • d

      +1 to Dew Drop Inn.

    • Hill Denizen

      I’m convinced Church & State is a front for some unsavory type of business. Every time I go there is hardly anyone in there, yet they somehow manage to stay open. Don’t get me wrong, I love it and their cocktails are awesome, it just totally weirds me out.

  • Truxton Thomas

    Does Litteri’s qualify? I want a mortadella sandwich.

    • Dadric

      I feel like everyone I know knows of it, but maybe living in the area has given me a skewed perspective. If it qualifies, then hell yes.

    • Anonymous

      I think it does. It’s a gem and way better than anything in Union “Market”

  • AMDCer

    Sakana in Dupont Circle. Feels like a neighborhood restaurant in Japan.

    • whatchamahoosit

      +1. Adore that place in every way.

    • SparklyKittyTacos

      +1 to Sakana. Love that place.

  • Anon H St

    How about the Atlas Room on H St NE? The unassuming exterior hides really great food and cocktails. I walked by it dozens of times thinking it was some sleazy lounge before I realized what a great spot it is.

  • Pixie

    Not sure what counts as “hidden” but I really like the Olive Lounge in Takoma Park (MD) and the Dew Drop Inn. Great places, great people, and never too crowded.

    • Pixie

      Oh and for food, J&J’s Carryout has the best tacos in the district! A little place up on Georgia Ave and Sheridan

    • I came to the comments to specifically mention Olive Lounge. My husband and I just joined the mug club this year. The staff are seriously the best, the taps rotate frequently, and the food is incredible (as is $6 burger Tuesdays!).

  • Anonamom

    Simple in Brightwood. It’s not so “hidden” since it’s on Georgia Ave, but since it’s in Brightwood I don’t think many people know about it. Wilfredo and his crew are awesome, and I love the food.

    • strawberrymaj

      Last I saw, Simple was boarded up, but I’m not sure why (was driving, not walking.) I hope it’s still open though. Great bar with great food and service!

      • chellefish

        I think a window was broken. As far as I know they’re still open.

    • neighbor

      I want to like that place because it’s the only thing in the area, but it’s just not good and over-priced. Which is probably why it closed. Definitely not hidden or worth coming from another neighborhood for.

      • timmyp

        Yup, not a fan. Tried to like it a few times but gave up. Still better than the Pitch in my neighborhood. How about a thread for biggest disappointments PoP?

      • Anonamom

        It’s not closed. They were vandalized and are replacing the windows.

    • KenyonDweller

      I went there once. It reeked of bleach and the food was mediocre. Never went back.

  • dcgator

    I really ought not to have clicked on this post before eating breakfast…..

    • Gbird


  • Dogg

    Subss by Carl. Have only been once since I used to go a decade or so ago, but assuming its still pretty low key and nothing has been built up too much around it. On Rhode Island and not too too far from MGM RB that others have mentioned

  • OP Anon

    The Well Dressed Burrito (though the quality has dropped in recent years)
    Pit Masters Back Alley BBQ in upper NW
    A Litteri
    MGM Roast Beef
    St. Arnold’s for mussels happy hour (I’m constantly surprised at how many people do not know this place exists)
    Kotobuki in Palisades for the best affordable sushi in DC

    • CODEL

      I’m curious about how Well Dressed has dropped in quality. That used to be my go-to for a cheap lunch when I worked on K Street. It was amazing!

      Also, love MGM Roast Beef as well.

    • steve

      +1 for kotobuki. The lunch chirashi bowl is an unbelievable deal.

  • anon50

    pitmasters back alley bbq (owned by wagshal’s)

  • anon_bdale

    Crabs Your Way for a bag of crabs to go and Silvestre Cafe in Brookland (just ignore the cleanliness and decor). Also a +! to MGM Roast Beef and A Litteri.

    • BRKLND

      Silvestre closed! It looks like the whole building is being renovated?

  • I wouldn’t quite call them hidden, but I think the awesome food that Sushi Capitol and Queen Vic put out is often overshadowed by their neighbors.

    • Dadric

      Yes yes yes yes yes to the Vic’s food being underrated. Most people just assume it’ll be typical mediocre “pub” food and some of the stuff on their set menu is underwhelming, but everything I’ve had off the specials menu has been excellent and the Sunday roast is off the chart. There’s a lot of great food on H NE, but the Vic absolutely holds its own.

  • Aaron

    Mignot on Georgia Ave.

    Great Ethiopian food, plus drinks if you want them.

  • F ST NE

    Bistro Italiano on Capitol Hill

    • Jill

      Fascinating, I’ve lived in Capitol Hill for five years (and worked in the area five years before moving there) and have never heard of Bistro Italiano.

      • AJSE

        Yes to Bistro Italiano! It is kind of hidden on D St.

    • louc

      This X 1,000. Best pizza on the Hill.

      I also liked Toscana’s a few blocks away at 2nd and F, though its menu and ownership has changed recently and I’m not as confident of it.

  • Mojotron

    Most of mine have been mentioned (Cafe Mozart, Litteris, Canales Deli), but will add:
    Spicy Delights in Takoma Park (Jamaican)
    Grand Trunk in Chinatown (Pakistani/Indian)
    Burrito Bros in International Square (Mexican)
    Shawafel on H (Lebanese)
    Korean food cart on K NW between 14th & 15th

    All are excellent and almost never have more than 3 people in line.

    • Dadric

      All respect to Shawafel, but I’ll take Micho’s every day.

    • Pixie

      Is Spicy Delight really that good? Every time I walk by they’re closed. They only seem to be open for lunch on weekdays.

  • Renee

    OKI Bowl – 1817 M St. Definitely hidden and a sweet little gem but shhhh…don’t tell anyone.

    • Anonymous

      My friends went last weekend and were really disappointed. They said Sakuramen is still better. I guess they have a bigger menu, so more options. But it’s a tiny spot and the waits are ridiculous.

  • Jill

    Café Kimchi– it’s way down at the southernmost end of Barrack’s Row so I don’t think many people know about it.

  • zeeeeee

    Bedrock Billiards in Adams Morgan. I’ve always thought of it as hidden, not sure if others do. Good beer list, reasonable prices, friendly bartenders, good jukebox.

    • AMDCer


  • hiphop anonymous

    Subbs by Carl on RIA NE.
    Public Option
    CF Folks

  • Dru

    Does anyone remember the English Pub near Connecticut Ave and Calvert where the only way to get to it was to go through Tippy Taco’s past the restrooms and down the fire escape? I wish that I could remember the name, and I’m assuming that it’s no longer there as Tippy Taco’s disappeared many years ago.

    • anonymouse_dianne

      I remember going there — I think they hosted darts teams. It had an English name and served Harp’s on draft.

  • EOTR

    I encourage everyone to try Pimento Grill on Bowen Road deep in southeast. Jamaican fare that takes the term hidden gem to a whole new level.

  • Raya

    Cafe Ole in Tenleytown. Great neighborhood spot (17 years), affordable and tasty “fusion” Mediterranean, best hummus in all of D.C.

  • Glen

    The Gibson on 14th St NW near U St NW
    2 Birds 1 Stone on 14th St NW near S St NW


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