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Capitol Cuisine: Revisiting the Classics

Can you believe the Dubliner Pub, located at 4 F St. NW, is a half century old? Founded by Danny Coleman on St. Patrick’s Day in 1974, the venerable saloon follows a long tradition of Gaelic watering holes. Coleman’s Irish immigrant father opened his Coleman’s saloon in 1933 atop Tipperary Hill in Syracuse, NY.  (It was no coincidence that 1933 was the same year that prohibibution ended its 12-year grip on thirsty Americans.) Several years ago, Danny Coleman passed the Dubliner’s reins to his son Gavin.

(Early on, the Dubliner’s co-owner was Irish-born Hugh Kelly, who sold his share to Coleman in 1978 to open The Irish Times next door in the former Luau Hut. Kelly died in 2022; his son Brendan now owns the Irish Times.)

Husband Peter and I first darkened the Dubliner’s handsomely paneled doors on April 2, 1974—less than two weeks after its grand opening. As we recall, the lower-level bar was almost empty as we sipped a Guinness—or was it an Irish coffee? We then asked: “Will this place make it?” Did it ever!

A hearty shepherd’s pie is among menu favorites at the venerable Dubliner.

Over the decades, we continued to eat, drink, and enjoy traditional Irish music at the often-packed Dubliner, as well as at the Irish Times next door. The Dubliner became so successful that Coleman eventually purchased the old Commodore Hotel and renamed it Phoenix Park Hotel (after the spacious Dublin public park). Among the Dubliner’s many celebrity guests was President Barack Obama who “dropped by for a pint” on St. Paddy’s Day in 2012.

Fifty years later, in spite of the Covid shutdown and other challenges, the Dubliner is still going strong. We recently enjoyed a delightful Sunday brunch in the cozy upper-level dining space. Peter enjoyed one of the best shepherd’s pies he’s had in DC, he said, while I consumed a delicious, generous corned beef on rye. Among other menu Dubliner favorites are fish-and-chips, Irish beef stew, corned beef and cabbage, chicken pot pie and roast chicken. At our brunch, our waiter Jack regaled us with nostalgic tales of the Dubliner’s rich history. Hoisting our spicy bloody Marys, we toasted a half-century of success.

Open daily, The Dubliner Pub is located at 4 F St. NW. For hours and more information visit www.dublinerdc.com.

Bullfeathers still going strong

And speaking of venerable restaurants and pubs, the other day Peter met a colleague for lunch at Bullfeathers, 410 First St. SE.  Founded in 1979 by Gordon King, Bullfeathers—named after President Teddy Roosevelt’s favorite expletive—ranks among Capitol Hill’s longest reigning culinary establishments. Thanks to its proximity to the US Capitol, the 45-year-old watering hole is especially popular with Members of Congress, Hill staffers, lobbyists, neighbors, visitors, and tour guides and tourists. Bullfeathers is conveniently situated across the street from the Capitol South Metro station.

A recommended Bullfeathers dish is fish-and-chips, accompanied by coleslaw.

Heading the menu are two-fisted burgers, crispy calamari, assorted wings, grilled salmon and fried chicken. At Peter’s recent lunch, he savored excellent fish-and-chips (cod with fries), served with a piquant lemon-dill aioli in lieu of the usual tartar sauce. Fries were nice and crisp, coleslaw was savory—not too gloppy–and the accompanying malt vinegar added  just the right amount of punch. He thoroughly enjoyed the hearty, good-value dish. His vegetarian friend ordered French onion soup and a Greek salad—replete with tomatoes, cukes, pepperoncini and plenty of feta cheese. All in all, Bullfeathers offers better than average pub grub. Lunch for two (sans alcohol) came to $52, before tip. Service was prompt and efficient.

For Bullfeathers hours and more information visit www.bullfeathersonthehill.com.

Old to New—Tex Mex

A margarita in the dead of winter? Definitely! Los Caballeros Restaurant has opened at 308 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, where La Lomita Dos used to be. On a snowy mid-week afternoon, Peter and I checked out the Tex-Me newcomer. The bright, welcoming dining room was fairly busy and many diners were speaking Spanish. I ordered my margarita, which arrived in a handsome, salt-rimmed glass. As we noshed on tortilla chips, guacamole and salsa, I decided on shrimp quesadillas (other choices were steak, chicken or spinach). Accompanied by guacamole, sour cream, shredded lettuce and pico de gallo, the half dozen triangles were full of plump shrimp and plenty of gooey cheese.

Peter’s fajitas arrived sizzling, as usual. The breast meat strips were moist and succulent, but unfortunately, they were smothered with too many green peppers, onions and oddly, celery. The hearty dish arrived with a side of refried beans and Mexican rice.

Sizzling fajitas (steak, chicken or shrimp) head the menu at Los Caballeros.

Among other menu options are burritos, enchiladas, tacos, chimichangas and house combinations. There’s also mariscada, (shellfish combo), grilled salmon, chicken and mar y tierra (surf and turf). Margaritas lead the drink lineup, as well as other cocktails, wine and beer.

Los Caballeros is open daily for lunch and dinner, plus a Monday-Friday happy hour. For more information visit www.loscaballerosdc.com.

More Pizza, Hopefully

On Capitol Hill’s Senate side near Union Station, coming soon if not already is Pupatella Pizza, 301 Mass. Ave. NE. The former site of Romeo & Juliet and before that, the Indian restaurant White Tiger. This Pupatella has been on the drawing board for several years; various code violations and red tape have slowed things down. Pupatella (“little doll” in Italian) is expected to specialize in red and white Neapolitan pizzas, salads, arancini (fried stuffed rice balls), paninis, and eggplant parmesan. Several other Pupatella outlets are scattered around the Washington area. For updates visit www.pupatella.com.

Gone

The H Street corridor has lost two establishments recently. DC Harvest, 517 H St. NE, departed late last year after nearly a decade in business. The restaurant was known for its bottomless brunches, vegan eggplant BLTs and three-cheese fritters.

Nearby, Pursuit Wine Bar, 1025 H St. NE, has poured its last glass of vino. Like neighboring DC Harvest, Pursuit was a 10-year neighborhood fixture. (However, in 2019 Pursuit had moved a few blocks west to a bigger space.)

Ciao for Now!

As we do every year, Peter and I are spending the month of February in the warm and sunny (We hope!) climes of Florida. See you in April!

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