Today’s Tip: Bar Pilar
During my tenure in Washington, DC I can’t tell you how many times the words “where should we go for dinner” came out of my mouth. In 2006 when I first arrived there, the pickings were pretty slim, but this bright star of a neighborhood bar came to the rescue over and over, and when I go back to visit its still top of my list of place to go.
Bar Pilar was one of the first new places to set up shop on 14th street in the U Street Corridor, when the neighborhood began its exhaustive gentrification period over 10 years ago.
The small bar offered a fresh take on the ‘small plates’ menus that are now beyond commonplace in the nation’s capital, and is now surrounded by upscale, hip and trendy coffee shops, tapas places, wine bars and brunch spots created at least partially in its image.
But I think Bar Pilar, (along with nearby Café St Ex opened by the same people) is still one of the best in the area. They have a nice, varied, menu of reasonably priced, small plates, good wine and beer and the bar feels cool and cozy at the same time.
They have recently opened an upstairs with more restaurant seating, which I am not so sure about. It does solve the problem of a constant lack of seating downstairs, but the renovation has changed the feeling of the restaurant a bit as well as the tried and true menu.
They still have the citrus and beet salad, which is worth a trip in itself, and the herb cured olives served with goat cheese toast points – although apparently the addition of an upstarts has somehow made it impossible to heat the dish of olives like they used to do.
I’d recommend staying downstairs and grabbing a perch at the bar. Go during the week or early on a weekend, order a nice glass of red wine and soak up the atmosphere.