The Arlington area is known as a great hotspot for young professionals to drink and have a good time. It’s also known as a suburban hellhole. Rosslyn ends up being all of the latter, and little of the former. I remember when I first started working in the Rosslyn area and had such a difficult time finding somewhere to drink, I was actually excited when I finally made it to a TGI Friday (before they went crafty). Really there is absolutely no reason to ever go out drinking in Rosslyn. However, there are a ton of office buildings in the area, and if you find yourself frequently working in the here, as Shintern and I do, you might occasionally find it useful to have somewhere to drink.
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.
Look, I love living in Old Town Alexandria. BUT, being under the age of 35, I don’t really belong here, especially when it comes to the bar scene. Going out here on a Saturday night, you are 100x more likely to run into a single 55-year old woman than a 25-year old woman. It also makes finding a good local watering hole tough, though the introduction of Pizza Paradiso and Red Rocks adds some good options.
With the announcement this week that Brickskeller will be closing its doors in the next couple weeks, it seemed fitting to take inventory of what we still have in DC. J Street Beer has had a day or two to think it over and we added a bit of a twist. The question is not just what our favorite DC bar is, but what we would change about it if given the chance. Enjoy our thoughts and throw in your own picks, disagreement, or soul-crushing criticism in the comments section:
I finally made my first trek out to The Black Squirrel. I was told many good things, and the buzz about it was hard to deny. After dragging my feet about going (I don’t like Adams Morgan much), I decided I needed to go. Would it live up to the hype? Would it be worth going into Adams Morgan? Good? Bad? Picklebacks?