City Paper is not for tourists.
In D.C., it seems like many of the people you meet are originally from somewhere else. Three restaurants and bars that opened in 2017 pay homage to a specific city or state, hoping to lure transplants in for a taste of home or introduce folks from other places to traditional fare without a trip. Head here to get out of town, if only for a drink.
Boston: Dirty Water
816 H St. NE; (504) 296-6180; dirtywaterdc.com
Named for the song played after Red Sox victories at Fenway Park, Dirty Water is a temple to Boston sports. Sam Adams Lager drafts and Narragansett tall boys are $4 whenever the the Bruins, Red Sox, Patriots, or Celtics are playing on the bar’s 10 televisions. When no one’s playing, you can still get New England beers like Harpoon IPA on the cheap and you can pair them with a warm cup of clam chowder this winter. Don’t be alarmed if you hear a big honk from time to time. Budweiser rigged the bar with a goal horn. “Every time the Bruins score a goal, the horn goes off,” says owner Chris DeFelice. “We don’t even have to hit a button, it’s hooked up via Wi-Fi.” Half the bar is exposed to the elements on a patio where DeFelice encourages patrons to play beer pong and flip cup, creating what he hopes is a true sports bar atmosphere.
Maryland: Free State Bar
501b G St. NW; (202) 601-7216; freestatebar.com
Free State may not have a kitchen to crank out Baltimore’s famous pit beef, but they do sell packaged snacks that will remind you of summers at the beach in Maryland, like Otterbein’s Cookies and Fisher’s Popcorn. “We always have the orange crush on the menu and hand squeeze the oranges,” co-owner Hilarey Leonard says. She’s referring to Maryland’s signature cocktail that typically combines OJ, vodka, triple sec, and lemon-lime soda. The bar’s signature shot should also speak to Baltimore natives. It features Viryta, a Lithuanian honey liqueur. “There’s a big Lithuanian population in Baltimore,” Leonard explains. Her husband and business partner Brian Leonard grew up drinking it. Free State’s spirits list includes booze from Maryland, like Lyon Distilling’s rum, and the bar offers $2 off Maryland beers during Ravens games.
Wisconsin: RARE Steak & Seafood/The Tavern at Rare
1595 I St. NW; (202) 800-9994; raresteakandseafooddc.com
Ask for the Wisconsin Old Fashioned at this establishment, which has a casual first floor tavern and an upstairs steakhouse, and you might get an explainer from your server. That’s because it swaps out more traditional bourbon or rye for Korbel brandy, combined with either soda water, Sprite, or sour mix. “It’s not drunk anywhere outside of Wisconsin,” says Justin Abad, the director of operations. “It’s a sugar bomb.” At the tavern you can also try cheese curds and a soul-satisfying plate of sliced Wisconsin brats mixed with pickled cabbage and creamy spaetzle. The only disappointment is the beer list because, save for Miller, there’s not much in the way of Wisconsin brews.