Welcome to the home of beer-loving locals. There are more than 500 beers at Birch & Barley restaurant and its sister bar upstairs, Churchkey. From your four-top downstairs, watch kitchen staff whirl around behind a beer organ – a set of copper tubes through which beer from kegs two floors above travels. Many of the drafts – take Castille Triple, for instance – are rare finds in the U.S. Of course, beer tastes better when paired with market-driven menus of simple, yet scrumptious items like seared lamb loin and crudo of scallop. When there's a wait in the small eatery, Churchkey's got a rock club meets theatre vibe to gear you up for the experience. Sip your rare pilsner from plush, high-backed mustard yellow booths on the street-facing end of the dimly lit room. Or if you find yourself in one the comfy red vinyl bar stools, ask a barkeep about the counter's inlaid skeleton keys.
Estadio means “stadium” and it's perfectly suited for this Spanish restaurant, considering the abundance of large tables with ample seating for a lively celebration with family, friends and coworkers. There are also plenty of finger foods for sharing. Small plates of cured meats and cheeses accompany a fine selection of 10 hard ciders and freshly made tonics. The manchego cheesecake has a devoted following.
This is what you call chill. Beginning at 5 p.m., the indoor/outdoor bar in this Kimpton Hotel brings out burgers and $2 PBRs for guests to enjoy on wooden patio furniture under purple string lights. The secluded space – lodged between the hotel and another residential building – is a great breakfast nook (try the organic French toast with sauteed bananas and orange syrup) and retreat from 14th Street hustle and bustle in the early evening. But come dusk, the lounge is a happening place for young professionals to sink into metallic blue sofas and chrome chairs.
The coolest thing about this casual seafood restaurant is not the street-side bar counter (that's still pretty cool), but the opportunity to reserve the chef's table. Up to five people can sit in the center of the kitchen action, which is surprisingly quieter than the cozy, nautically rustic dining room. It's also the only table you can reserve after 6:30 p.m. The wait is worth it. Sample 10 different oysters including some raises exclusively for chef Jeff Black. When you're not sure which oysters to choose, trust the recommendations of servers, who taste them before each shift. Be sure to head upstairs to Blackjack, a bar with a retro cool vibe. Many unique pieces, from old, wooden stadium seats in the bocce ball court to an old cigarette machine that now dispenses trinkets from artists, came from Miss Pixie's, a vintage resale store down the block. You may even catch films on the projection screen behind red velvet theatre curtains.
Zentan means “spy” in Cantonese, which is fitting since the Asian restaurant is located within the Donovan House's secret intelligence-themed walls. But this place is no secret, with celebrity chef Susur Lee at the helm of one of the more delicious sushi places in the District. Inside, savor your Redskin roll (spicy tuna, red tuna, pickled radish and tobiko) or Buddhist Delight (tofu skin, asparagus, spinach and sesame miso) in a dimly lit, romantic and sophisticated atmosphere characteristic of Kimpton restaurants.