Tag Archives: bar

Across the River at Uniontown Bar and Grill

There’s no doubt that Anacostia is slowly changing.  Currently an almost entirely residential neighborhood, it has recently begun to at least show signs of success in drawing businesses and economic development to Ward 8, which the Washington Post called a “a long-neglected area of the city” in February.  Perhaps the most important bellwether of this change is the opening of one of Anacostia’s first (if not the only, depending on what your consider “Anacostia”) sit-down restaurants and bars, Uniontown Bar and Grill.

Uniontown takes its name from Anacostia’s original name.  The Uniontown neighborhood was incorporated in 1854 and was one of DC’s first suburbs.  The history of the area is very interesting, and full of demographic changes, including covenants against selling to members of certain races and ethnicities—see this National Park Service primer for more details.  Uniontown the bar homage to its past, with framed black and white photos on the wall from Anacostia’s olden days.

The restaurant captures the perfect combination of both trendy and neighborhood-y feelings.  It is filled with young professionals who seek happy hours after work, and almost all of the patrons when I visited were local.  This is a far different experience than that of most watering holes in DC, particularly in places like Adams Morgan and Farragut, whose bars beckon those from miles around to drive in and spend money.  Uniontown is better for it.

The food is southern inspired—the crab dip and sweet potato fries are certainly worth sampling.  The bar options lean heavily towards cocktails (a.k.a. “hip sips”), with just a few beer options.  Also impressive is a “create your own salad” option—bar food taken up a notch!

The owner of the restaurant, Natasha Dasher, is often on hand to chat with patrons, make personal inquiries, and welcome anyone and everyone to her establishment.  I was lucky enough to visit Uniontown with an Anacostia resident, and Natasha seemed to know him and everyone else in the bar, preserving the feeling that this place is “a hub in the community,” as she was quoted in an interview describing her hopes for the place.

As the Washington Post stated in its review of Uniontown, the spot is a symbol of Anacostia’s “potential to have the same services and amenities found in more affluent areas of the city.”  Head to Uniontown soon not only for its good vibes, but for a glimpse at history being made in a neighborhood that is right in the middle of some very important changes.

To visit:  2200 Martin Luther King Ave. SE, 202-678-8824, Monday-Thursday 11am-9pm and Friday/Saturday 11am-2am.  It is a 10-minute walk from the Anacostia metro stop, or the 90 bus from NW/Capitol Hill.

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Hanging Out Up on 14th at The Highlands Café and Grill

The Highlands Café in Petworth (not to be confused with Highland Origin Coffee in Silver Spring) is a charming neighborhood spot that is unassuming on the outside and colorfully artsy on the inside.  Located on 14th Street between Crittenden and Decatur, this is one of “it” spots in the 14th Street Heights neighborhood.  Didn’t know that there was a 14th Street Heights district in DC?  Neither did I, so that’s another good reason to go up there and hit some of the other local staples along the way—Districto Federal, the Red Derby, etc.

The most memorable quirk about this coffee shop/restaurant/bar is its long mural on the southern wall, depicting the life-cycle of coffee from the berry-picking to the barista-ing to its enjoyment by friends.  Along with its mainstay beverage The Highlands also boasts brunch and dinner menus that seem a bit ambitious for such a small place, but the results are great—hearty, Southern-style meals with a smattering of vegetarian options.  I was a fan of the towering smoothies!

According to the mission on its website, The Highlands is trying very hard to not just be another relatively funky coffee shop in our city, but a place where patrons can interact with management and feel ownership over the location.  I can only speak to my Saturday afternoon visit, but I was very impressed with the variety of clientele, from older men reading newspapers to young Millenials rubbing the sleep out of their eyes, but the best thing is that they all clearly were residents of the neighborhood.  In my opinion, this kind of community-oriented local watering hole is just what DC needs more of!

To visit:  4706 14th St. NW, 202-829-6200.  Moderate walk from Petworth or Columbia Heights Metros, or the 52 and 54 buses will drop you outside the door.

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Filed under Deals and Steals, Local Food, Restaurants