The rush of new bars and restaurants continues. Already in 2012, we’ve looked at new arrivals Boxcar, Irish Whiskey Public House, Town Hall, Fuel and St. Arnold’s Mussel Bar, and previewed Unum and Society Fair. Two others that have opened recently include Mova Lounge, the gay happy hour hotspot that has relocated from P Street to the 14th and U corridor, and Southern Hospitality, a new restaurant and bar breathing life into the old Adams Mill Bar and Grill. Here’s my early review of both.
When Babak Movahedi closed Mova Lounge in December 2010, he claimed that the club would reopen soon somewhere other than its prime P Street location. This was a bold claim, since the gay bar’s closure was preceded by, among other things, Movahedi filing for bankruptcy and being sued by his landlord for unpaid taxes.
Thirteen months later, Mova is back in a rejuvenated two-level building near 14th and W streets, just up from Busboys and Poets. It’s a modernist lounge with dark leather ottomans around coffee tables, exposed brick walls behind a long metal bar and a small room with a DJ booth. Up a long flight of stairs is the rooftop deck, a secluded and comfortable spot that offers views of nearby condo buildings and the Fast Gourmet restaurant at the gas station across the street.
Okay, so it’s not P Street -- that space is now occupied by the popular Number Nine -- but it feels similar, down to the same signature happy hour: two-for-one drinks at happy hour, every day between 5 and 9 p.m. (My two margaritas with Cuervo and Cointreau cost a grand total of $11.) There are familiar faces among the DJs as well as the barstaff: Matt Bailer of the Mixtape and all-’90s Peach Pit parties spins at Thursday’s weekly Tronic dance night, where $10 buys a shot of tequila and a beer; and Edward Daniels, who has hosted both karaoke nights and retro DJs nights around the area, runs Sunday’s Motown Fun night, with $4 beers and $5 Finlandia cocktails. Wednesday is “Ladies Night” hosted by Nikisha Carpenter.
It will be interesting to see how well Mova does now that it’s farther away from the usual Dupont/Logan Circle axis of gay bars. But the proximity to U Street already seems to be luring a more diverse crowd than in the P Street days.
It’s safe you say you won’t see kickball teams doing shots on the old Adams Mill Bar and Grill patio in Adams Morgan. The building’s new tenant, Southern Hospitality -- no relation to Justin Timberlake’s New York spot -- is pushing itself as a restaurant that has a bar, late-night cocktails and yes, a huge patio. The owners, whose resume includes the two Circa restaurants in D.C. and the old Lupo’s Italian Chophouse in College Park, seem to have left dirt-cheap booze off the agenda.
Former Busboys and Poets chef Hugo Bonilla is in the kitchen, turning out plates of fried okra, rockfish risotto fritters and (my favorite) warm spicy pecans. The lunch and dinner menu is peppered with Southern-style entrees, including fried chicken with mac and cheese and collard greens, all smothered in gravy; a classic meatloaf.
While mojitos have generally been disappearing from local drink menus -- or become a token item, like the lonely cosmo -- Southern Hospitality’s menu has multiple iterations, from “classic” to “strawberry vodka,” shaken with house-infused booze. More interesting is the menu of coffee cocktails (sambuca, grappa and espresso? Yes please!) or the original cocktails, such as the Deep South: a savory mix of whiskey and molasses in a rocks glass.
And how much will that set you back? The entire menu of house cocktails is $9. Ten beers are on draft, from Miller Lite to Delirium Tremens, for $5 to $8.
With its exposed brick, caramel-colored wood and roughly finished bars, this isn’t the kind of Adams Morgan restaurant that turns into a nightclub at 11 p.m.: There’s no dance floor, and tables aren’t removed when the kitchen closes. But it can still fit into your 18th Street bar-hopping plans. It works equally well as a place to fuel up early or as a late-night destination for a few drinks, and it’s a fine addition to the growing number of Adams Morgan bars and restaurants targeted at a more mature crowd.