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Are there restaurants or bars in DC with historic NYC style?

  • j

I've just moved to DC (been here a week) from New York and I sorely miss the historic design aesthetic of many restaurants and bars there. For instance, tin celiings, brick walls, large windows, woodwork, dusty old mirrors, edison bulbs, the occasional chandelier - a sort of eclectic style that reminds you of a bygone era. I walked by Marvin's the other day and that seemed to have potential. Are there any others?

In New York, some examples would be Ten Bells, Supper, Ruby's, Cafe Colonial, Epistrophy, Balthazar, Home Sweet Home. Or in Brooklyn, the Richardson, Hotel del Mano, Fette Sau, Greenpoint Coffeehouse, Enid's, Five Leaves. Or if you know LA, Citizen Smith, Bar Marmont and the Edison were beautiful examples. I attached pictures of Ten Bells, Greenpoint Coffeehouse and Epistrophy for reference.

Or, if DC doesn't do NYC style much at all, maybe it has its own unique aesthetic going on?

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  1. There's a bunch of that in Baltimore, but that doesn't help you much.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Hal Laurent

      Hal, I'll take Baltimore recommendations too. I will be going there in the future.

    2. I'm a big beer fan and thus love the Brickskeller. Probably the biggest beer list in town and has been there since 1957: http://www.lovethebeer.com/brickskell...

      1. I just ate at Cafe Colonial today. Great food and cute atmosphere. DC definitely does not have many places that replicate that style. You might want to check out Tabard Inn, Mansion on O St, 1789 or 18th St Lounge though. I used to live in NYC and definitely miss the variety of all the restaurants and atmospheres, but DC has improved a lot these past few years.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Jacey

          Or not improved, at least as far as places with the kind of atmosphere that the OP seeks.
          The places you mentioned are all located in old buildings of the type that developers keep ripping down to build nice new ones that are more profitable. Then design teams spend a couple of million bucks on shiny new interiors for stylish restaurants that last a few years before - poof! they're gone or redecorated for the next trend. How many incarnations has Melrose/BlueDuck had?? Now Butterfield 9 will be Galileo...

          These great old places are found in cities and towns all across America but they're becoming more and more rare in downtown DC. Maybe the economy will lead more people to use existing old buildings for new small restaurants instead of doing expensive build-outs for big places in new office towers.

          1. re: MakingSense

            Let's see..Harry's Bar in the Hotel Harrington. Martin's Tavern at Wisconsin and Prospect. The bar at the Hay-Adams Hotel. The National Press Club bar, which used to be for members only but will now admit anyone in shoes. But you're right, the wrecking ball has done for most of the old-time watering holes and the corporate decorators have done for the rest.

        2. Cafe St. Ex might be to your liking. For some reason that was the first place that came to mind (do they have a tin ceiling?).

          1 Reply
          1. re: Elyssa

            Bar Pilar is another place you might like. It reminds me of Uva on the UES (not food wise).

          2. places that came to my mind are old ebbitt and even though its only a bar, the round robin in the willard?

            1. What about Darlington? Rather unique.

              The Mansion on O is really unique.

              A lot of the old clubs still have these features, but you would have to go with a member. The Georgetown Club and Washington Club are especially cool.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ktmoomau

                Of the private clubs, my favorite was the now-defunct Gaslight Club, five floors of debauchery of every description set in an exquisitely appointed Georgian mansion.

              2. Granville Moore, Argonaut (sort of), 1905.

                1. Hey thanks everybody! I will certainly check out the recommendations.

                  Restaurants may not compare, but DC does boast some impressive victorian and federal architecture that you could not find in NYC.

                  1. Paolo's in Georgetown kind of reminds me of NYC. I'm sure there are others along the M st. strip that are comparable also, like J.Pauls.

                    Check out Dean & Deluca also in Georgetown on a nice weekend morning.




                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Chownut

                      They're disappearing as well. Nathan's just closed up after 40 years and word is more will follow.

                      1. re: Chownut

                        The Georgetown Market, a.k.a. Dean and Deluca, was one of Washington's historic market buildings, like Eastern Market and the O Street Market. Years ago it was restored by the city, but the market failed and it went through a couple of operators before closing completely for a time, and then Dean and Deluca took over, turning it into an expensive specialty grocery store. That's apparently the only concept that will work there.
                        What is there now is nothing like the old historic market which had individual stalls like Eastern Market, the only surviving Market in DC.

                        1. re: MakingSense

                          Are you surprised. Rent is a lot higher in Georgetown compared to Eastern Market.