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From across the street, you can almost peer through the glass storefront at The Passenger and imagine a dimly lit Nighthawks. I have to admit, I’m feeling a bit of a stewing loner myself as Tom Brown keeps his hands busy at the bar. The cocktail I ordered has left a bad taste in my mouth, and I’m pining for a beer.
Some visits to The Passenger make me miss the days when Tom used to man the bar at Cork Wine Bar. Back then, it seemed he had more time to devote to each of his custom cocktails, and when you have Tom’s attention, he has a way of making you feel like the only person at the bar.
Still, I’ve enjoyed many of the drinks here, and the canned beer menu requires little hand holding. Order. Pop the top. Enjoy. It also goes well with the kimchi hot dog, which is the reason I stopped here in the first place.
While U Hall’s pho dog is still my favorite, the Asian hot dog at The Passenger was the first one I had ever sampled in the District. Perched on a bed of spicy fermented cabbage and topped with a toned-down Sriracha, the smoky link set me back $10 and came with pickles and chips.
The price seems steep, but the links are handcrafted by Red Apron’s Nate Anda. I’ve personally watched Nate and other area chefs bang out small-batch hot dog varieties. Believe me, the cost is warranted.
The Passenger also offers a half-smoke crowned in chili, but the topping is heavy and redundant with a link that already bears a higher than usual fat content. The acidic kimchi on this dog, however, cuts the richness that might otherwise blanket my palate. It’s a marriage of ingredients worthy of a toast. With beer.
The Passenger, 1021 7th St. NW, (202) 393-0220