Many people know the (almost) hidden neighborhood restaurant located on 18th street, Bar Charley, for their brunch or happy hours – but did you know it is probably your best option for an exemplary Steakhouse in the neighborhood too? Camouflaged by the cellar tiki bar theme, Bar Charley offers delicious and still cheap option for all things drinks, bites and beef.
Chef Adam Harvey may as well be the king of beef. “I love all beef. No matter what, beef is one of my favorite things” says Harvey himself. That is why Bar Charley’s menu is centered on steaks while pairing delicious bites and cocktails to enjoy with your entree. Harvey has always had a passion for rustic and simple cuts of beef, and now Harvey brings unique and tasty steak and potatoes to Bar Charley with steak prices ranging from $19.95 to $27.95 or the ‘giant porterhouse’ for $49.95. These prices are nearly half of what you will find at other steakhouses, for the same (or even better) quality.
If you are a cocktail person (like me) you will agree that the other best part of Bar Charley is the extensive cocktail list. The vast array contains 5 tikis on tap, 5 other tiki drinks, 8 martinis, 10 manhattans and 19 other cocktails plus beers and wines (of course). And more.
Some of the cocktails are tasty as well as fun. The Charley Scorpion Bowl, served lit on fire and in a big tiki bowl, is a fun drink for all those at the table to sip and savor together. The giant colorful straws make the whole experience that much more fun. Because it’s what you do at a steakhouse right?
If you are looking for something more serious and not served in a tiki mug, don’t worry they have that too. For example, The Stepdad cocktail has a four step table-side preparation to reach full flavor potential. First, a piece of cedar wood is torched at the table to burn. Then, the glass the is placed over the smoke to capture the cedar flavor. Tobacco bitters, black iced tea, and Kelt VSOP are mixed together in a small pitcher. Then all the magic comes together – they flip over the glass, add the large ice block, and pour in the cocktail for you to enjoy. Watching the drink prepared before your eyes makes it taste that much better. The smoky flavor really comes through in the drink and makes it great for a fall or winter night cocktail.
The food menu is extensive. For those aren’t steak eaters or are vegetarians, don’t worry, Bar Charley offers much more. Many of ‘the bites’ on the menu are perfect to order and share. Cheesy corn dip, brussels sprouts, mussels or tuna tartare are just to name a few. They are the perfect snacks to munch on before the entree because once the entree comes you won’t be able to move your fork away. The main entrees also include a burger, portobello confit, and a fish option either salmon or tuna.
The Pu Pu Plater is fun to share with the whole table. Bringing lots of variety and flavors and a unique way to try different things.
One of the fan favorites, and honestly a must get, is the ‘catalan fries’. You can not go wrong with a big bowl of french fries with chimichurri sauce, romesco (nut and red pepper-based sauce), cheese and a fried egg on top. Take cheese fries and patatas bravas and add them together for catalan fries. And an egg on top makes everything better.
One of the best parts about the restaurant are all the feels you get when you walk inside. It is kind of a rush of emotions that all lead to a great experience. It’s dark, in a basement with leather booths which feels like you just walked into a jazzy speakeasy. But on every table are bright neon colored tiki drinks, and the menu has big green tropical leaves reminding you that everyone is here to enjoy the awesome food and have a good time.
The steak I had at Bar Charley was the best I have had in a while. It was juicy and (literally) bursting with flavor. Put the exploding flavors together with the unique ambiance, and I actually forgot I was in DC for a moment. With a bite of steak in my mouth I felt like I was in Europe at a cool cellar dive restaurant eating the best steak and sipping on awesome cocktails. When I came back to reality I was even happier knowing I was in my own neighborhood and I could come back again.
Next to try, Bar Charley’s bottomless brunch!