By ERIN DONAGHUE and SHANI PROVOST
This week, the American Observer begins its lifestlye series recommending the best places to eat, drink and chill out – all just a short walk from the Red Line metro. First stop: Cleveland Park.
3515 Connecticut Avenue N.W.
Metro Proximity: Less than one block
Price Rating: Three out of Four $$$
Foster Brothers is the perfect place if youâ€™re in the mood for a warm cup of cocoa or chilled bottle of Corona! Thatâ€™s right, this cozy coffee house with plush earth-toned retro seats and comfortable padded booths also provides a full-service bar. Quiet jazz and contemporary music can be heard upon entry of the lamp-lit coffee house and the arching ceiling structures embossed with thought-provoking quotes are reminiscent of a train station. Yes, WiFi is here and three computers are available to surf the internet or work on a project. Foster Brothers is the perfect setting for studying quietly on any one of the couches while eating a scone or socializing with friends at the tiny but elegant bar.
Slant: A coffee shop/bar is always an unexpected treat. Foster Brothers has it all â€“ the coffee, alcohol, and computers all make for delightful distractions. It is a perfect place for an afternoon cocktail with your paper (or with another afternoon cocktail).
Pick: If you’re in the mood for coffee, try the Zebra Mocha â€“ a super sweet mocha made with white chocolate and whipped cream. A small will run $3.20, the same price as a medium latte or cappuccino, but it’s the perfect drink for a fall afternoon. For a cheaper alternative, you can try a cafÃ© au lait for $1.90, also available iced. If you’re hungry, grab a panini â€“ most run $6 or less.
Crowd: Although the Foster Brothers atmosphere is a homier counterpart to the overbearing Starbucks across the street, the people are fairly similar â€“ young professionals and their laptops dot the crowd of thirty-something couples and student types. The reading-room feel, however, draws an intellectual group. (Beret sightings=1). Come here on a Sunday afternoon to read the latest copy of Harpers or parouse the metro section.
AU Ups: Foster Brothers offers a nice alternative to Starbucks and the option of ordering a coffee and a beer simultaneously is too good to pass up.
AU Downs: No, the wireless isn’t free. To log in, you will have to enter a credit card number and fork over 20 cents per minute. For a list of free wireless hotspots in D.C., check out http://www.wififreespot.com/dc.html
3333 Connecticut Ave N.W.
Metro Proximity: About 2.5 blocks
Price Rating: Two out of Four $$
Spices is the perfect place to impress your friends if you’ve finally mastered using chopsticks. This hip Asian restaurant offers an array of cuisine, including Japanese, Thai and Chinese â€“ but sushi is the biggest crowdpleaser here. The atmosphere is ultra posh, but the seaweed-colored walls and low tables make for a relaxing, low-key eating experience.
Slant: From Shrimp Tempura to General Taoâ€™s Chicken to Stir-Fried Basil Leaves to Suicide Curry, your choices are limitless. The Pad Thai chicken is delicious; itâ€™s a stir-fried noodle dish with bean sprouts, eggs, and peanuts. But if youâ€™re in the mood for sushi, take a seat at the long banana colored sushi bar. As you make your selection, take a moment to watch sushi culinary at work as your entrÃ©e is prepared in front of you.
Pick: The Maki-Sushi section on the menu is moderately priced and provides an extensive variety. The spicy crunchy shrimp roll is excellent and light yet filling, but be careful because it does have kick.
Crowd: It is a lively place, with a diverse crowd perfect to bring a date or a group of friends. This stylish sushi bar and restaurant is a definite recommendation on the red line, and yes, Spices delivers and caters too!
AU Ups: On Sundays they offer great half-off discounts on drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.
AU Downs: The dinner menu is a little pricey, but two entrees under $12 is enough for three people.
3421 Connecticut Ave N.W.
Metro Proximity: About two blocks
Price Rating: Three out of Four $$$
With its red walls, fiery brick oven and roof-top bar, The Cleveland Park Bar and Grill is a great sports bar for hanging out with friends. The roof top is an unusual intimate setting with candlelit round table tops for a romantic evening for two. It overlooks various landmarks of the Cleveland Park area including the historical Uptown Movie Theater. For game night, gather a couple of buddies to enjoy the flat screens located both up and downstairs. The atmosphere is fun and energetic.
Slant: The Cleveland Park Bar and Grill is an unusual hybrid of Italian restaurant, sports bar and posh roof deck. But it’s the identity crisis that makes it unique. The boys can grab some bar food and watch the game while the girls mingle at the tables outside. And the sports theme isn’t overbearing â€“ the sleek flatscreens and lack of garish game-gear displays make for an atmosphere that’s more tasteful than your typical sports bar.
Pick: Try the Amaretto Sour â€“ fruity and tart with a kick at the end – and at about $4.50, it costs the same as a beer. But be warned, these go down a little too easy. If you’re more of a beer drinker, try the Widmer Hefe-Weizen, a hearty, unfiltered wheat beer. And, if you’re hungry, you can try pizza two ways â€“ wood fired or dessert-style, with fruit, sugar and ice cream topping homemade dough.
Crowd: Cleveland Park Bar and Grill isnâ€™t the best place to chat at the bar. The crowd is made up of mostly young, hip couples and slightly older sports fans. Expect a lively group on game nights, but the earlier dinner crowd is more subdued. Bring your girl/boyfriend early on in the evening and invite the gang to meet up later.
AU Ups: We love that you can always catch a glimpse of the game on one of the bar’s many flat-screens, whether you’re enjoying a sit down meal in the restaurant or drinking under the stars on the deck.
AU Downs: The food can be expensive, so if you’re on a budget, eat first and come for the reasonably priced beers or cocktails.
CLEVELAND PARK QUICK FACTS:
-Cleveland Park was named for President Grover Cleveland after he renovated an area farmhouse into a summer White House in 1885 to share with his fiancÃ©, Frances Folsom.
-On Woodley Road, you’ll find the Twin Oaks mansion, owned by the Government of Taiwan.
-Because Cleveland Park was a wealthy District suburb, it was once described as the “Queen of Washington” suburb.
-The historic Uptown Movie Theater, located on Connecticut Avenue, opened Oct. 29, 1936.
-The 4.5 mile trail through Rock Creek Park extends into the Cleveland Park area.