Exclusive Preview: Penn Commons (Photos and Menus)

Take a first look inside chef Jeff Tunks’s latest venture.

Penn Commons, the newest eatery from chef Jeff Tunks, brings American eats and ample brews to Penn Quarter.

One restaurant’s bad fortune is another’s good luck. The eatery that was supposed to open at 700 Sixth Street, Northwest, was a beer-centric project called Townhouse Kitchen—but before it could be completed, the money evaporated. The space became available, and business partners Gus DiMillo, David Wizenberg, and chef Jeff Tunks saw an opportunity to expand their empire. (The team also owns DC Coast, Acadiana, PassionFish, and Fuego Cocina, among other local spots.)

The Haight-Ashbury, a falafel-like veggie burger, is one of the many items borrowed from the Burger Tap & Shake menu.
The 290-seat restaurant strikes a rustic look with wood finishes and deep leather booths.

Penn Commons, a sister restaurant of District Commons in Foggy Bottom, will still serve plenty of craft brews through 40 draft lines when it opens Monday. Just as many seats fill the large bar area, a boon for an eatery within blocks of the Verizon Center. A snacking-friendly lounge menu offers the likes of dips and spreads with grilled bread, pulled-pork hand pies, and crispy fried oysters. Also suited for pregamers is a selection of house-ground chuck and brisket burgers—plus veggie and chicken alternatives—taken from Tunks’s menu at Burger Tap & Shake.

The bar is outfitted with 40 draft lines for an array of local and craft brews.
Old-school desserts include boozy floats and hot fudge sundaes.

The dinner—and eventually lunch and brunch—offerings closely mirror District Commons. New American and Southern influences dominate, from Korean-style pork chops with spicy barbecue sauce to shrimp and grits. At 10 each night, a bell rings for homey, family-style meals served at a communal table. The main difference on the menu here: a Thursday night “sausage fest” with a mix of grilled Stachowski’s meats, homemade kraut, and pretzel bread. A good bet to cap off the evening is a dessert menu with boozy milkshakes and three kinds of sundaes.

At 10 PM a dinner bell rings for family-style feasts at a communal table, such as platters of fried chicken or Stachowski’s sausages.
(Left) Oversize onion rings on the bar menu are one of the many snacks perfect for before or after the game. (Right) Exclusive to the menu at Penn Commons are a variety of dips and spreads, served with grilled bread.

Penn Commons. 700 Sixth St., NW; 202-905-2999. 

Find Anna Spiegel on Twitter at @annaspiegs.

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.