Food

5 New Bars to Try Now

An outdoor beer garden, classic cocktail den, and spot for wine by the jug.
The Speak pours classic, unfussy drinks like a Moscow mule with homemade ginger beer and plenty of crushed ice. Photograph courtesy of the Speak.

The Speak

1413 K St., NW (downstairs entrance)

We know, another speakeasy, but thankfully former One Lounge owner Seth McClelland doesn’t rely on cliches: no rules, no hidden phone number, and vermouth-haters can opt for Tecate cans spiked with lime and house-made hot sauce (he recently lived in Mexico). That’s not to say the unmarked, subterranean bar below K Street forgoes all prohibition-era whimsy. The low-lit, 100-seat space centers around small-batch liquors, house-made ingredients, and classic drinks like the Moscow mule. They’re just trying to avoid being precious about it. As McClelland says, “We don’t have Grey Goose, but if you want a vodka soda, we’d be happy to serve you a vodka soda.”

Open Tuesday through Friday, 5 pm to 2 am; Saturday 10 pm to 3 am.

Jug & Table

2446 18th St., NW

Roofer’s Union transforms its sidewalk-level bar into a separate spot for sipping wine and snacking on grilled cheese sandwiches, starting Friday, May 29. Barman Theo Rutherford crafts cocktails and curates an unusual wine list that includes eight varietals on tap, 20 by the glass, and large-format “jugs” that pour over two bottle’s-worth of wine for groups. Prices are fairly reasonable; vino starts at $6 a pour—down to $5 during daily happy hour—and the jugs go for $20 to $25. Chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley creates a menu of grilled cheeses that originally won a following at Ripple—think melty cheddar with bacon jam and tomato—plus fromage and charcuterie boards, and trendy-yet-convenient jarred snacks.

Open 5 to close, Tuesday through Saturday; daily happy hour 5 to 7.

The sidewalk-level bar of Roofer’s Union becomes Jug & Table, a grilled cheese/wine bar. Photograph by Andrew Propp.


Wunder Garten

150 M St., NE

NoMa gets a 300-seat seasonal beer garden lined with umbrellaed tables, just in time for summer sipping. German lagers, wheat beers, and pilsners make up most of the brews, plus a few local options like Port City Optimal Wit. Sustenance comes in the form of no-frills snacks—chips, pretzels—and also from a rotating lineup of food trucks such as Rocklands and Federal City Bros. The bar’s other outside collaboration is with outdoor recreation company REI, which plans to open a store nearby. In the meantime, the business runs active summer outings that leave from Wunder Garten. A post-hike Hofbräuhaus may be in order.

Open Monday through Thursday, 4 to 10; Friday 3 to midnight; Saturday noon to midnight; Sunday noon to 10. Closed during inclement weather.

Caboose Brewing Co.

520 Mill St., Vienna

This railway-themed spot is part brewery, part restaurant, part bar, and all great for spending a few hours over fresh beer and seasonal fare. Brewmaster Chris Mallon, formerly of Heavy Seas, is behind the rotating lineup of beers that are available by the pint and take-home growler, such as an imperial stout, American IPA, and European-style farmhouse saison. The dinner menu from chef Brandon McDermott goes well beyond pub burgers—think deviled eggs with beer-candied bacon, rabbit pot pie, and foraged ramp hushpuppies. Bikers can expect ample parking, and an outdoor patio.

Tap room open Tuesday through Thursday, 4 to 11; Friday and Saturday, noon to 11; Sunday noon to 9. Dining room open Tuesday through Saturday, 4 to 11; Sunday 4 to 9.

Caboose Brewing Co. offers a rotating lineup of beers made on premises, and seasonal fare. Photograph via Facebook.

The Pub & the People

1648 N. Capitol St., NW

True to name, this welcoming Bloomingdale watering hole is designed with neighborhood drinkers in mind. Beer arrives cold in cans, a solid selection of whiskeys can be made neat, or you can combine the two—shot-and-a-beer combos go for under $6. A wallet-friendly from chef Dan Dalcin (formerly of BlackSalt) offers the likes of pork belly banh mi, DC Brau-steamed mussels, and a house-made veggie burger.

Open Sunday through Thursday, 5 to 1:30; Friday and Saturday 5 to 2:30.

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Anna Spiegel
Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.