48 Essential Coffee Shops Across the DMV

This article first appeared in Eater.com on Aug 9th, 2017

In the past two years, there has been a major influx of independent coffee shops opening in Washington, which means caffeine lovers have more places than ever to get their pour-over or nitro brew fix. Local success stories such as Compass Coffee continue to multiply, while outside operators are getting in on the action too, with ongoing expansions around the city by San Francisco-based Philz Coffee, Philadelphia-born La Colombe, and, most recently, Oakland-based Blue Bottle Coffee.

Here are four dozen (and counting) of the DMV’s best coffee shops:


43 Takoma Beverage Co. (In Alphabetical Order)

Takoma Beverage Co. features pour-overs and espresso drinks made with North Carolina’s Counter Culture Coffee beans. Though the atmosphere is coffee house, there’s plenty in the order of light tartines, cocktails, and draft beer.

Where To Eat and Drink in Takoma Park

This article first appeared on Eater.com on July 27, 2017

Locals have long known what other area diners are just figuring out: Takoma Park — the town of bungalow homes, eclectic street art, and free composting — has a downtown food scene that is quietly expanding. And local, funky, and eclectic tend to be what suits this neighborhood best.

When Starbucks wanted to come to Carroll Avenue, one of Takoma Park’s main thoroughfares, residents initially balked, lobbying to keep the community filled with independent operators.

Takoma Beverage Co.

Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, this family-run coffee shop/bar serves gourmet fare including fried pork belly, tartines, and meatless meatballs alongside more traditional salad and sandwich options. Don’t miss the Harper Macaw hot chocolate, made in house with 67 percent cocoa drops straight from D.C.’s own chocolatier. Also worth trying: the Takoma Breakfast sandwich featuring poached egg, apple butter, country ham and cheddar cheese. Co-founder Chris Brown, a former science teacher at Montgomery Blair High School, has trained former students to serve as baristas, while his partner, cousin and Northside Social alum, Seth Cook, instructs staff about the particulars of good coffee-, tea-, and espresso service.

New Restaurant With Arcade Games Will Replace Boundary Road on H Street

This Article First Appeared in Washingtonian Magazine

 

Chef Adam Stein will oversee the menu with clam chowder poutine and “monster spaghetti”
New Restaurant With Arcade Games Will Replace Boundary Road on H Street

H Street restaurant Boundary Road is getting a makeover. The new American spot from Karlos Leopold has closed and will be rechristened as Bar Elena in late August, featuring an expanded menu and bar as well as classic arcade games.

Leopold tapped Adam Stein to be the new chef and managing partner of Bar Elena. Stein, who is currently heading up development of The Eleanor (a 7,000 square-foot bar and restaurant complete with indoor bowling lanes in Ivy City), is no stranger to the restaurant. He became close with the staff while helping to open the Big Board across the street.

“It kind of became this whole neighborhood thing, everybody was rooting for everybody. We were a little bit of the new guard, all the way down at the west side of H Street,” Stein says. “I couldn’t really turn down the opportunity to go to a place that I loved for years…and a chance to do a re-launch. It sort of made perfect sense.”

In the back of the new Bar Elena, you can expect skeeball and pinball machines as well as a few nostalgic arcade games. With these additions, the restaurant may soon rival other game-heavy bars down the street, such as Atlas Arcade and H Street Country Club. “It’s good business sense,” says Stein of the additions. “You’re getting another revenue stream, you’re getting a reason for people to come in.” And, he adds, “It’s more fun when you bring the kids in to have dinner at 5:30.”

As far as food goes, the team will continue serving seasonal dishes, with the addition of a shellfish section featuring roasted oysters, stuffed little neck clams, and “monster spaghetti” made with Maine lobster. Other new menu items include clam chowder poutine and a dry-aged beef burger.

For the bar, Stein plans to bring in a lot of local brewers from Virginia and Maryland and build even stronger connections with the breweries and distilleries in DC. The restaurant will keep its craft cocktail menu as well. “I’ll certainly be pushing for the DMV first,” he says.

Keep an eye out for the revamped Bar Elena at the end of the summer.

Bar Elena. 414 H St., NE

Have Your Latté and Drink Your Cocktail at Takoma Park’s New All-Day Cafe

This article first appeared in Washingtonian Magazine on June 20, 2017

 

People who like good coffee are often the kind of people who like good wine and cocktails. That was the thinking behind cousins Seth Cook and Chris Brown’s first restaurant, Takoma Beverage Company, which opened Sunday. The shop serves up coffee and pastries in the mornings, then transitions to cocktails, beer, and wine in the afternoon and evenings. A full food menu, ranging from avocado toast with a poached egg to a crispy pork belly, is available throughout the day.

While Cook, the former coffee director at Northside Social, is the brains behind the morning menu of espresso drinks and pour-overs, Brown brings a world traveler’s approach to food. Beyond visiting 25 different countries and 40 U.S. states in his lifetime, Brown worked as an agricultural extension officer in Tanzania while in the Peace Corps. During his time there, he gained an appreciation for organic farming and fresh vegetables, which is reflected on the the veggie-heavy menu.

For Cook, the important thing about the menu was that each product have a story—whether it’s the coffee beans passed directly from the farmer in Ethiopia to his shop in Takoma, or it’s kale from a local farm ten miles away used in the shop’s version of a Caesar salad.

While the menu highlights local products for food (designed by chef Liam LaCivita of Bar Civita) and pastries (from bakery Souk), Cook and Brown sourced most of their beverages internationally—“just to make sure we had the best and most beautiful examples out there of each drink we were serving,” Cook says. To do so, he brought on sommelier Sonja Eberly, mixologist Tim Higgins, and beer expert Drew Lemberg to hand-select options for the drink menu, like the pinot noir from New Zealand and the pilsner from the Czech Republic.

Overall, the drinks menu is purposefully short because Cook plans to change it up often. Expect three draft beers, four wines, and eight cocktails, including several summery drinks like the “Rose of Mary” (gin, lime, rosemary, honey, and sparkling water) and the “After the War” (gin, Aperol, orange juice, simple syrup, and Angostura bitters).

Counter Culture supplies the shop’s coffee. Beyond the lattés and espressos, the storefront will soon sell retail bags of the roaster’s beans, coffee brewing equipment, tea bags from Rishi, and even alcohol.

As of now, the Takoma Beverage Company shop is pretty small. The narrow set-up fits only the bar and a few tables lined against the opposite wall and window. But at the end of the month, the shop will expand into the next-door unit when the current tenant, vintage clothing store PollySue’s, relocates down the street. By August, the additional area will be home to a long communal table that will double as an after-hours events space. Coming up first are free coffee cuppings and classes led by Cook.

The events fit into the owners’ vision for the shop to be something more than a place where you do work on your laptop or grab a cappuccino to-go. On the tentative events docket is a social awareness program to recognize Ugandan NGO, Grassroots Reconciliation Group, founded by artist, Sasha Lezhnev, whose photographs line the shop’s walls.

Takoma Beverage Co. Taps Into Everything

This article first published on Eater Washington DC on June 19, 2017

 

Takoma Beverage Co., a combination coffee shop and bar pieced together by two first-time restaurateurs, is now mixing up drinks and offering pour-over service in Takoma Park, Md.

The all-day cafe and drinking establishment comes from cousins Chris Brown and Seth Cook, who previously worked at similarly themed Northside Social in Arlington, Va. Sonja Eberly, another Northside Social alum who’s currently working at a vineyard in New Zealand, serves as sommelier. Sehkraft Brewing alum Drew Lemberg is the resident beer director.

Total capacity at this neighborhood eatery is pretty modest, with eight seats at the bar, a couple stools along the front window, and a scattering of tables. There’s also a curbside patio.

The caliber of caffeine is pretty high; a custom espresso machine built for the restaurant is fed a strict diet of Counter Culture Coffee. The main bar hosts 10 draft lines and serves up a full slate of signature cocktails. A front counter with a white quartz top features a display case and is stocked with pastries and other impulse buys.

The menu was composed by yet another Northside Social alum, Bar Civita chef/owner Liam LaCivita. Offerings include the Spicy Pig ($7), a breakfast sandwich featuring fried pork belly, maple sage hot sauce, poached egg, and cheddar, while the midday menu includes an “All Kale” Caesar salad($8), and evening ushers in a lineup of tartines ($8-$10).

Status: Certified open. 6917 Laurel Ave., Takoma Park, MD.; website.