5 New Things to Look For at Bar Pilar

One of our favorite 14th Street spots is about to reopen. Here's what to expect.

Popular 14th Street spot Bar Pilar will re-open in the next few weeks. Photograph courtesy of Bar Pilar via Facebook.

The good news: Though it’s still under construction, you can once again grab drinks at Bar Pilar. The bad news: There’s still no working kitchen. The 14th Street spot is several weeks away from reopening for dinner and brunch and debuting the new second-floor dining room. We stopped by to check out the new digs and get a taste of what’s coming.

1) You’ll be able to get a table for dinner.*

Drinkers and eaters alike are drawn to Pilar, which is great for a Cheers-like vibe, bad for your chances of settling down to a quiet dinner. Now there’ll be less competition for space: The 40-seat upstairs dining room will be reserved for those grabbing a bite—whether it’s a cheese plate or a full meal—while the downstairs bar area will remain a prime spot for those long sipping sessions with the same open-seating policy. No reservations are taken for upstairs, but there’ll be a hostess to organize the fray and possibly summon you by text if downstairs gets packed.

2) Big plates!

We’re not talking Carmine’s, but the upstairs dining room will have a menu that includes regular appetizers and entrées. Grazers shouldn’t fret—there’s still the ol’ small plates menu available on both floors—but you may just find yourself devouring a steak for two versus nibbling on crispy potatoes with malt aioli (or, most likely, ordering both). Many of the favorites are making a comeback, so expect to be feasting on that pork trencher again soon.

3) Cocktails galore.

General manager Jonathan Fain—formerly the mastermind behind the Champagneson and other concoctions at Saint-Ex—is working on a list of 20-plus new cocktails for Pilar. You may or may not see Champagne and Jameson together again at last, but look for lots of house-made ingredients such as bitters, limoncello, and ginger beer for Pilar’s oh-so-delicious Dark and Stormy. The seven-seat bar upstairs will be the epicenter for more-complicated creations, while the lineup downstairs will focus on quaffable drinks that could start off your night of bar-hopping.

4) Late-night noshes.

Looking for a place to grab some eats post-midnight? The upstairs dining room will have a late-night menu available until around 1:30 AM on Friday and Saturday, and you’ll be able to dine in (relative) peace without worrying that your table will get taken over for dancing before the food arrives.

5) More wood! More murals!

While not in the kitchen, chef Justin Bittner—who worked with his carpenter father for years before turning to chefing—has been busy contributing to the build-out. New tables are fabricated from wood sourced from his father’s farm, and beautiful maple boards have been brought in for cheese and charcuterie. StudioSmith has ensured that the second story blends well with the first, featuring the same exposed brick walls, painted murals from Beth Ross, and a wall of antique wooden doors that play on the tradition of oak paneling. Just don’t have too much limoncello and try to open them.

*Or at least your chances will be better.

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.