Bar Review – Justin’s Cafe
I’m really torn here. Part of me wants to behave like Bill Murray in Rushmore who deliberately talks down a woman to his friend so he can go for her himself. I want to write a horrible, scathing review of Justin’s in the hope that no one else ever goes there; I want to keep it all to myself. The other Part of me wants to pull a Jerry McGuire and storm into a room announcing that “you complete me.” I feel like the entire world needs to know how incredible this place is. Justin’s Cafe opened a year ago down in a very revitalized SE. And it’s incredible. I’ve tried over and over again to find one thing even slightly wrong with this bar, and I just can’t.
Justin’s only has 4 beers on draft, but they all meet Pyzocha’s dream of no macro-brews. Racer 5, Lagunitas, and Bell’s Oberon, and GL Eliot Ness are all available. The draft list is complemented with a solid bottle/can collection including two choices from Oskar Blues, Two Hearted, North Coast, Duck Rabbit and more. While it’s not necessarily the most extensive beer list, it’s unbelievably solid and there is something for everyone there.
But hey, there are plenty of bars in DC with a good beer list – what makes Justin’s so good? Staff and ambiance. The staff at Justin’s is unbelievable. Joe, Eric, Liz and the rest of the staff I’ve met have all been unbelievably friendly, helpful and nice. Despite a somewhat bustling bar, Eric took the time to introduce himself to me on only my second beer. Liz found a way for me to somehow order 7 drinks in about 50 minutes. Joe shared a bottle of GL Holy Moses just because he could, and remembers what people are drinking – when they leave the bar and come back 3 hours later.
Justin’s is just that neighborhood bar. It gets a ton of transient ballpark traffic, but also plenty of locals and other beer aficionados that aren’t just there to drink, but to enjoy people’s company. Sitting by yourself at the bar isn’t a lonely experience at all – I’ve talked hops, SE, Wrigley Field, and women with people I’ve sat down near at the bar. Between the staff, the beer, and the atmosphere, Justin has created a place that really feels great to spend time in.
The food is similarly solid. The brunch, wings, and buffalo burger Pyzocha and I have had there have all been really solid, and I haven’t even had their signature brick oven pizza.
The only possible issue is size and crowd. The cafe isn’t huge and before/after games can get pretty packed in, impacting the overall ambiance. Popularity unfortunately has it’s downsides, but I’ll live with them.