Kevin Diedrich, the bar manager of Jasper’s Corner Tap & Kitchen in San Francisco, grew up in Northern Virginia, 15 minutes outside of Washington D.C. He recently made a trip back home. Here he shares his favorite old haunts, plus a few new finds.
“The Passenger has a dive bar ambiance, with a great back bar. This bar is always on my list to visit if I’m in town. The cocktails change practically every day as they don’t have an actual menu. The bartenders write drinks on a chalkboard for the evening. My wife opted for what seemed to be a French 75 variation with Thai basil, my friend got a cocktail heavily flavored with allspice, and I ordered an Old Fashioned. If you’re not in the mood for a cocktail, you can always get a can of beer with some whiskey.” 1021 7th St., Washington DC, (202) 393-0220, passengerdc.com
Jack Rose Dining Saloon
“This bar only opened in the last year and is already on my list of must visit spots. It’s known for having a massive whiskey selection and a cocktail on tap (just like at my bar!). It’s located at the end of Adams Morgan, a huge strip of divey bars, lounges, and clubs, which I spent most of my younger years frequently visiting. It’s tucked away from the madness of what happens in Adams Morgan. An outdoor, upstairs section of the bar offers a smaller cocktail menu of about 12 drinks, a great mix of classics and house specials. One caught my eye, the “Trailer Park Bride” which had Coors Light in it—I just had to order it.” 2007 18th St., Washington DC, (202) 588-7388, jackrosediningsaloon.com
“The menu at this authentic Japanese restaurant changes constantly. This place is legit authentic Japanese, they even make you take off your shoes and wear their slippers … or wabaki (as I learned from the greatest movie of all time, Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift). Men have to wear a button-down collared shirt, so be ready. You can order from their menu a la carte, but the thing to do is make reservations and get their tasting menu. This is what we do every time and it never disappoints. The tasting menu is about seven to eight dishes depending on what the chef decides to send. The meal is unforgettable. In signature Japanese style, the dishes are small, but compact with tons of awesome flavors. One dish actually inspired a cocktail on the fall menu for Jasper’s. You’ll have to come in and guess which one!” 4822 MacArthur Blvd. NW, Washington DC, (202) 298-6866
“Fairly new to the DC area, but NYC based, this is the best place to spend $16 for a lobster roll—not just a lobster roll, but a lobster roll that is jam-packed with lobster meat. With every bite you have lobster falling out. They also offer a crab and shrimp roll, but the lobster roll steals the show. Definitely grab a frequent buyer card to get stamped, as these rolls aren’t cheap and it takes at least two to get you full.” 624 E. St. NW, Washington DC, (202) 347-3355, lukeslobster.com
“No visit to DC is complete without a visit to Bourbon Steak. There will always be a special place in my heart for this bar as I helped open and train the bar staff here. They consistently turn out amazing cocktails and I couldn’t be more proud of the team there. Not to mention the food is always, always spot on. The cocktail list is pretty long, with more than 20 cocktails, but it has several categories to break the menu up. Located in the Four Seasons in Georgetown, the bar is always filled with socialites and beautiful people. It’s a great spot for people watching, but even better for drinking.” 2800 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington DC, (202) 944-2026, bourbonsteakdc.com