Fall is in the air, but for the team behind newly opened Vagabond in Dupont Circle, it’s beach season all year long. Co-owner Eric Heidenberger and his partners at the DC Restaurant Group (Shaw’s Tavern, 801, Madhatter) created a bar and restaurant that channels their love of surfing in coastal destinations like Mexico, Portugal, and Hawaii. The bright, beach-y space opened with weekend hours and a limited menu earlier this month, and is gearing up for an official launch tonight.
Heidenberger and his partners transformed the former Rebellion space, replacing the dark whiskey tavern decor with ocean tones, greenery, and beach umbrellas on the front patio. The revamped roof deck currently seats 16 guests (they’re waiting on permits to open a rooftop bar), and there’s room for nearly 100 throughout.
A speakeasy-style basement bar opens for drinkers this Friday on the later end (10 PM) and is accented with a huge Patrick Swayze mural by local artist Randi Kontner. While it’s not an official Swayze speakeasy (Sweakeasy?) per se, the basement space takes some cues from Point Break and Road House. The movies “encompass the vibe of the surfer and traveler,” says Heidenberger, a huge Swayze fan. In addition to drinks with names like “Utah, Get Me Two!”—a beer and shot combo, naturally—the bar will pour Utica Club beer, made famous in Dirty Dancing.
In the beach-y bar and restaurant above, chef Roberto Ascencio is behind a globe-trotting menu that draws from Mexico, Portugal, Hawaii, and beyond. A wood-burning grill turns out dishes like grilled Caesar salad, roasted octopus over polenta, or wood-fired prawns with Portuguese seafood rice. Patrons can also drop in to the bar for coastal cocktails like rum punch or house-made pineapple vodka martinis, alongside snacks such as slow-braised quesabirria tacos or tinned Portuguese sardines and crackers.
Once Vagabond is surfing along evenly, the plan is to open for weekend brunch and weekday lunch.
Vagabond. 1836 18th St., NW,