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reliable weekend bar dining in DC

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I will be in DC for a conference and am looking for a good place to sit at the bar and have an excellent meal (as opposed to, not that I mean to defame such fare, chicken wings and so forth). I am staying in Woodley Park, but am open to taking a cab elsewhere.

What I am hoping for is a place where I can fairly reliably arrive during the dining hour and get a seat at the bar, as opposed to a place where the bar is very crowded and I cannot expect to sit.

Thanks in advance.

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  1. If you head up to Cleveland Park you can dine at the bar at one of the best restaurants in the city, Palena. I eat there by myself quite often and always have an enjoyable meal. If you are looking for sushi and Asian cuisine I also like Spices in that neighborhood.

    In Adams Morgan (not that far from you) I like Cashion's for dinner. A great neighborhood spot where you can sit at the bar and enjoy a nice, seasonal meal. Much more casual and cheaper would be The Diner also in Adams Morgan. Typical Diner food but friendly service. It's open 24 hours. When I lived in the area I dined there about once a week. I also would go to Bourbon for dinner quite often, but on the weekends it might be more crowded, especially later in the night. Their crab cake sandwich and seasoned fries are great though.

    Other places to check out in the city for dining at the bar: Central, Sette Osteria, and Hook.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Elyssa

      Nothing to add to Elyssa's right on suggesitons -- except I'd just say, if you want the more casual/less money you could go to Open City, right in Woodley Park, instead of the Diner (same owner but I think slightly better food). Palena and Cashion's are both great and walking distance for you.

      1. re: mselectra

        MATCHBOX might be a very good option! There mini burgers w/ crispy fried onions, pickle and cheese are AMAZING...I also love their apples/bluecheese/pecan salad.
        Their bar is very pleasant to sit at-and I have done so a number of times. They are also supposed to have great pizzas, and I know there are seafood & meat entrees on the menu, as well.

        1. re: chicken kabob

          It's probably ok during the week, but that place gets very crowded on weekends, unless you are willing to eat early.

        2. re: mselectra

          MATCHBOX might be a very good option! There mini burgers w/ crispy fried onions, pickle and cheese are AMAZING...I also love their apples/bluecheese/pecan salad.
          Their bar is very pleasant to sit at-and I have done so a number of times. They are also supposed to have great pizzas, and I know there are seafood & meat entrees on the menu, as well. Also, Bardeo in Cleveland Park may be an option. I have not eaten there, but Ardeo (next door) is very good- same owners.

      2. If you want to go more downtown than Elyssa's suggestions (though I do agree about Palena), also consider Zola, which has a very nice bar menu right now (you can see it online), or The Source, which has amazing bar food.

        3 Replies
        1. re: katecm

          oh my lord i second that motion — zola's tuna sliders are fantastic and the restaurant is lovely; also the source bar has some amazing kobe beef sliders. so good! The source isn't necessarily in the most hopping part of DC, but it is a pretty area, with the gorgeous national archives and newseum towering all around.

          1. re: littlew1ng

            Zola has tuna sliders now as well? Are they like PS7s??

            I always liked Zola's tuna tartar. Perhaps they are copying PS7s ideas of tuna tartar sliders.

            1. re: Elyssa

              I think the poster may be mistaken, or they changed the menu. Just the other night we got the shrimp and lobster sliders, which are excellent.

        2. Cafe St. Ex, on 14th street South of U (U Street metro). It's kind of divey like a bar, but the food is absolutely top-notch.

          1. Circa and Urbana in Dupont, Zengo, Rasika or Ella's in Chinatown