Bar Review – The Argonaut (Guest Post)

This week many of us at J Street Beer were on hiatus in Italy (I wasn’t… I’m bitter).  Anyway, since we’re too busy to write, we’re lucky enough to have friends who do have some time.  In this guest post, we bring in JBass (@JBassDC)to give a little insight to an H Street NE point of interest.  Here’s his take on The Argonaut! -Tonzi

On June 20th, 2010, a fire burned down the kitchen and half of the bar downstairs at The Argonaut on H Street in Northeast DC, causing the restaurant to close.

But we all know that good beer can put out any fire.

Less than a month after the fire, the upstairs was reopened while the work began on rebuilding the kitchen and making the bar even better. On January 15th, a mere seven months later, The Argonaut reopened fully.

The Argonaut is quite an unassuming place from the outside, so much so that when going to meet friends there the first time I actually walked right past trying to find it.  A simple sign and a subtle exterior on H St. NE may not catch the eye initially, but once you walk in, any thought of calling this spot simple goes right out the door.

The area is not huge, by any means, with around 15 tables and seating for around 60 with a nice bar that has about eight seats. Even though it is not too spacious the place is still very relaxing and somewhat quiet even on a Friday or Saturday. Several TV’s are positioned around the bar, making this an excellent place to watch a few games especially since the staff is more then happy to change the games to what the customers want.

Now I know the first thing I do, once I’ve walked into a bar and gathered my bearings, is take a look at the taps and I’m never unhappy with what I see at The Argonaut. Upon first inspection of the 12 taps a smile should warm your heart since Bud, Miller, and Coors handles are nowhere to be found. Above the bar is a chalkboard with the current draft options, which frequently rotate. In my few visits I’ve been delighted to find gems such as River Horse Triple and Flying Fish Grand Cru, which I have not seen on tap anywhere else, and I go to Churchkey a lot. This is also the only bar I have seen with Goose Island’s Matilda on tap regularly, and this was true before the unfortunate recent sale. Other breweries I have seen on tap include Bells, Avery, Allagash, Great Lakes, Firestone Walker, and the Argonaut’s always-popular Booty beer aka Longhammer IPA.

The bottle selection at the Argonaut is no slouch either with a couple dozen options to choose from, if you tire of the drafts. Offerings from Lagunitas, Anderson Valley, Victory, Bells, and North Coast have caught my eye as well as one of my favorite beers from the west coast: Bear Republic’s Hop Rod Rye.

One of the most enjoyable surprises at the Argonaut is their food. I usually like to keep it simple and am always satisfied with what I order. They do an excellent job with their Cuban sandwich, which means a lot coming from me having spent four years in Miami, and make a burger that usually hits the spot. The fries, regular or sweet potato, are thicker cut and less crispy then I prefer but are very tasty nonetheless.

There are a few things on the menu that sound and look great that I have not gotten around to yet, unfortunately. The wings look good and come in three flavors including a chocolate stout sauce. A big draw at the Argonaut is the seafood with steamed platters of shrimp and clams always available and a rotating daily steamer special often announced on their twitter (@argonautDC), and everyone I have seen eating these platters leaves with a smile on their face. The fish tacos, only two dollars each on Tuesdays, also look mouthwatering.

The Argonaut really is a place that can be enjoyed for any sort of day. If you are someone capable of just coming by and having a beer or two with dinner then this is a great spot. If you are more like me and want to enjoy a burger and several beers with a basketball game it works great too.

For anyone who lives in the area the bar is a must visit simply for some of the deals they offer. Thursday is local night giving 10% off the bill to anyone with a 20002 or 20003 zipcode. For dog owners they have an Argo-Mutts Happy Hour Saturday which allows everyone to bring their dog to the patio from 12-5 pm with the mutts receiving water and the owners get a dollar off drafts and rail drinks.

The Argonaut may be a bit off the beaten path down H Street NE, but is without a doubt worth a visit anytime you find yourself in the area.


The Argonaut is located at: 1433 H Street, NE

About JBass:

There are few things that I enjoy more than drinking a good beer and talking about anything related to the beer world. Having a persuasive older brother who loves craft beer and often visited Dogfish Head, I had no choice but to try countless beers. Once my curiosity was piqued I spent my time in college at the University of Miami trying out as many new brews as possible. In the rare moments beer thoughts aren’t racing through my mind I’m usually focused on sports, but as any DC native knows that often ends up leading me back to beer to soothe the pain after yet another Redskins meltdown.

One response

  1. Josh

    Smith Commons has Matilda on tap, and I don’t think they rotate it out. I believe it’s a staple.

    May 3, 2011 at 6:51 pm

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