Best Bar Food: Skewers, Finger Foods, and More

Millie's lobster quesadilla. Photograph by Scott Suchman

To see the rest of our Bar Snacks package, including where to get beer cheese, ham croquetas, and foie gras waffles, click here.


Jack Rose Dining Saloon (2007 18th St., NW; 202-588-7388) boasts wall-to-wall whiskey, so it’s no surprise that brown liquor makes its way into the kitchen’s smoked wings. Old Crow bourbon is reduced to a sticky glaze with roasted habaneros and honey, then lacquered onto the meaty drumettes.

Spiced Cashews

Bar nuts are often gratis, but it’s well worth shelling out $5 for the version at the cocktail den 2 Birds 1 Stone (1800 14th St., NW; no phone). Spiced with bird’s-eye chilies, kaffir lime, and fried garlic, the cashews are the perfect complement to pretty much whatever the bartender is mixing.

Stuffed Clams

At the Salt Line (79 Potomac Ave., SE; 202-506-2368), chef Kyle Bailey upgrades classic clams casino with big, juicy topnecks and, instead of bacon, the smoky Portuguese sausage called linguiça. They’re terrific with a squeeze of lemon, even better with a beer.

Okonomiyaki-Style Skewers

Daikaya (705 Sixth St., NW; 202-589-1600) takes all the flavors of okonomiyaki—savory Japanese pancakes—and applies them to pork-belly-and-Brussels-sprout skewers. The izakaya snack is dressed in Kewpie mayo and sweet okonomiyaki sauce, plus bonito and seaweed flakes.


Leave it to Millie’s (4866 Massachusetts Ave., NW; 202-733-5789), Spring Valley’s unofficial prepster clubhouse, to luxe up the humble quesadilla. This slightly flaky tortilla holds hunks of sweet lobster, roasted tomato, zucchini, and a restrained layer of Monterey Jack.

Deviled Eggs

We promise—our love for the eggs at Jackson’s Mighty Fine Foods (11927 Democracy Dr., Reston; 703-437-0800) isn’t all about the strips of candied bacon that come with them, though they don’t hurt. Really, it’s the scattering of crunchy pecans that lift this rich, tangy-yolked appetizer to greatness.

Garlic Knots

If your experience with garlic knots consists primarily of the greasy breadstuff at strip-mall pizzerias, get yourself to Shaw’s All-Purpose (1250 Ninth St., NW; 202-849-6174). Chef Michael Friedman brushes strips of Pugliese-style semolina dough with garlicky lemon butter, then spirals them like cinnamon rolls. They get both baked and fried and swabbed with more butter (“We’re filthy people,” he says), and are set atop Parmesan fonduta—which tastes like Alfredo sauce on steroids. Friedman’s secret tip: Order them tossed in Caesar dressing.

This article appears in the November 2017 issue of Washingtonian.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.

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.

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.