There’s a lot more than brews and brats on tap at The Garden, a 100-seat outdoor bar and restaurant that opened last week in Del Ray. Owners Jeremy Barber and chef Justus Frank, the duo behind adjoining Charlie’s on the Avenue sports bar and nearby Southern restaurant Live Oak, wanted to build a beer garden that would appeal to the whole neighborhood. To that end, there’s a kid’s menu, dog’s menu (coming soon), and regular menu filled with summery items like draft grapefruit crushes, soft-shell crab sandwiches, and sno-cones.
Unlike a lot of beer gardens that cater to evening or weekend crowds, The Garden opens daily at 11 AM except for Saturday when it opens the gates at 9 AM for freshly baked beignets, Swing’s coffee, and jazz over the speakers. Barber says the lengthy hours are partly to maximize warm months (it’ll close in winter) and partly a response to the Metro shutdown, which he says is keeping a lot of his Del Ray neighbors close to home. The space has WiFi for teleworking and corn hole for playing—plus a separate little activity area for kids. The kitchen has been handing out free watermelon for children in addition to the lineup of $6 dishes like sliders and chicken fingers.
Chef Justus’ all-day menu leans light for the weather with lots of seafood options like rockfish ceviche, peel-and-eat shrimp, fish tacos (fried or blackened), and a crispy soft-shell crab sandwich on brioche with slaw, avocado, and Old Bay aioli. Being a beer garden, there’s also a smoked Logan Sausage brat and a house pretzel—here revisioned as a roll stuffed with braised beef, Swiss cheese, horseradish, and beer mustard. Patrons can pick between 16 draft beers and ciders, largely local (think breweries like Port City, Ocelot, Aslin, and 3 Stars) as well as canned California wines, draft spritzes and margaritas, or simple mixed drinks like vodka-soda and gin-and-tonic.
The team is currently working on a pup-friendly menu of snacks. Service is from a counter, or patrons can order and pay for food and drinks on their phones using GoTab. (It doesn’t require an app, just simply scan a code at your table and a server will run the food out.) Barber says he first saw the technology at Caboose Brewing and thought it was ingenious for the neighborhood.
“Del Ray, it’s nothing but babies and dogs, and at any moment, a baby can hit that wall—when it’s time to go it’s time to go.”
The Garden. 1503 Mt. Vernon Ave., Alexandria. Open Monday through Friday and Sunday, 11 AM to 10 PM; Saturday open at 9 AM.