It’s about time DC caught up with NYC and LA.
Let me preface this review by saying that a few months ago Neil and I got turned away from Buddha Bar, because Neil was wearing a hat. Not a busted-ass Nats cap, but a pretty expensive Hugo Boss hat. Yet, armies of meatheads wearing $20 black loafers from Payless Shoes and solid-color button-down shirts w/ blazers from J.Crew were entering in droves. I didn’t realize that “trying too hard” was the accepted look these days.
Any respectable bar or lounge in NYC or LA doesn’t play like that. They actually respect an individual’s personal style. I mean, I’m not for allowing people in with sweatpants and sneakers, but if you can rock a t-shirt and cap and make it look good, what’s the difference between that and wearing a cheap-ass blazer and Levis jeans?
Barcode finally got it right. No red velvet ropes. No dress code. No VIP nonsense. It has set itself apart from other restaurant/clubs by positioning itself as a lounge, and not a restaurant-turned-club, after hours. It’s unique to the city right now. It makes late-night eating “cool,” which NYC and LA have been doing for years. Most importantly, it understands that not forcing a dress code might actually bring a more style-savvy crowd into the bar.
They also have a decent amount of TVs in the bar area showing games. That’s a breath of fresh air, considering so many “trendy” bars in DC turn off their TVs after 10 PM (Masa 14). Why DC has deemed it uncool to watch a game at a “trendy” bar is news to me. Don’t get me wrong, I like Public Bar, too, but I don’t always want a frat-bar atmosphere when I’m watching a game. Barcode certainly walks to the beat of its own drum.
The food isn’t great, but it isn’t bad, either. It’s a pretty sizeable menu and not very expensive, considering the vibe. The burgers are the best deal at only $9 ($11 if you add bacon and cheese), and the entrees vary from $14-21. That’s cheaper than the entrees at Redline, a sportsbar in Chinatown. The pizza, usually referred to as a flatbread (see Churchkey review) in most foo-foo places, isn’t great but better than most. My favorite dish on the menu – the avocado appetizer. It’s under $10 and is really good. The meatball sliders are ok, too, but the bread they come on kind of sucks. The antipasta plate isn’t bad, but it’s slacking a bit on the cheese offerings. The fries are terrible. Straight out of Wendy’s. Either way, you can get drunk and eat for about $40, and that’s a good deal in DC. Speaking of good deals – Tuesday is half-priced wine night. That makes for a better ratio of girls to guys. Plus, an $18 bottle of Chianti Classico will put a smile on my face any day of the week. They’ve also extended their happy hour Monday through Saturday 4PM – 8PM (Half off drafts, wine and rail drinks) and attract a pretty decent sized crowd.
Good deals. No hassle. That’s a trend worth setting.
|Address:||1101 17th St., NW (L St.) Washington, DC 20036|
|Parking:||Street and Valet|
|Serves:||Lunch (Monday-Friday); Dinner (Daily)|
|Specials:||Monday-Friday (4-8 PM): half-priced beer, wine and rail drinks; Tuesday (Dinner): half-priced bottles of wine|
|Go for:||Avocado dip; Barcode burger; half-priced wine night|