Cafe Asia DC

A trendy, social pan-Asian spot.

The Food: Cafe Asia’s menu reads like a greatest-hits medley of Asian cuisines. From Thailand, there’s satay and drunken noodles; from Vietnam, spring rolls and lemongrass chicken; from China, crab wontons and Szechuan pork; and from Japan, udon and soba noodle soups and sushi.

The Scene: Downstairs is the starkly modern place to be seen. White walls and tables get a tiny splash of color from a few orange benches. During rush hours the large room is packed, and with an open-atruim ceiling and nothing to absorb the noise, it can sound like a cafeteria. A stainless steel bar has Sapporo and Kirin Ichiban on tap, as well as some domestic brew. Both the downtown Cafe Asia (where a DJ booth is perched on the second floor) and its sister location in Rosslyn are known for a surprisingly happening bar scene.  

What’s Nearby: Lots of downtown law and lobbyist firms are housed nearby, and the White House is three blocks away. Next door are two bars: a neighborhood joint, the Bottom Line, and a hipper bar/lounge, Eye Bar.  

Insider Tips: The energy of the downstairs/bar area is appealing, but the short, backless stools aren’t conducive to lingering. For something a little more intimate and comfortable, ask for a table on the second level, overlooking the first floor, or head to the third floor, which overlooks I Street.

Happy hour, which runs Monday through Saturday from 4:30 to 7:30 PM, offers nigiri at $1 a piece, half-price sake and beer specials.